What is D2C Fulfillment? 10 Reasons Why D2C Brands Need a Fulfillment Partner

Nowadays, e-Commerce logistics businesses are more convenient for both customers and sellers, and the modern world has already started to adopt this means of selling. In 2022, the benefits of D2C fulfillment by selling directly to the consumer are well known, such as better supply chain exposure, stronger customer relationships, and no middlemen involved. Also, there are numerous positive stories about D2C brands that have succeeded in getting a fast start. However, the quicker your company grows, the more critical it is to ensure that your D2C fulfillment operations can scale efficiently and capitalize on growth opportunities.

What is D2C Fulfillment? 

D2C fulfillment, also known as direct-to-consumer fulfillment, is an e-commerce shipping model in which a merchant sells directly to the end consumer through digital channels rather than relying on intermediaries such as retailers, distributors, or wholesalers to reach their target market. The involvement of these intermediaries may reduce your profit level and take more time to get your targeted customers. D2C brands are responsible for handling their stock and fulfilling and shipping orders that they can do in-house, such as through dropshipping or by outsourcing the process to a 3PL.

What are the Processes Involved in Direct to Consumer Fulfillment?

The process begins when a customer places an order and concludes when they receive it. If the buyer needs to return a product, direct-to-consumer fulfillment will also handle the return logistics procedure. Here is the list of processes in direct to customer fulfillment:

Receiving Inventory

The initial step in the D2C fulfillment process is receiving inventory from the company warehouse or from whole sellers. You should be very careful in counting the incoming stock lists to avoid future issues. Once you count the entries of the inventory, you need to inspect the quantity and quality of merchandise to ensure that you have received the proper amount of stock. Bar codes on incoming products are used in the receiving and storage processes and later, in the retrieval of goods from internal storage.

Storing Inventory

When goods arrive at the fulfillment center, they are inventoried and distributed immediately or sent to short-term or long-term storage. The next phase would be the proper storage of inventory. It is a good practice to store the appropriate goods, in relation to their demand, instead of hoarding vast amounts of inventory in the anticipation of future sales.

Processing the Order

The picking and packing process of a product is dictated by an order processing management system for every newly received order. Order management software integrates with an eCommerce website’s shopping cart to automatically initiate order processing in the online marketplace.

Picking the Relevant Product

One of the most important processes in direct-to-consumer fulfillment is picking the right items ordered by your customers. The process of picking the required item will either be automated or performed by a dedicated picking team, based on the packing slip’s instructions. Product size, color, and number of units are some of the metrics mentioned in the packing slip, that are used to determine the right product to be picked

Packing the Order

The next interesting process after picking the required items is packing them properly. The packing team or robots will select the packing materials. Because space on delivery trucks is limited, optimizing the dimensional weight (or DIM weight) is critical for expediting transport while potentially lowering shipment costs. Return shipping material will be included by the packing teams when customers want to exchange or return the item for a refund.

Shipping the Order

The order is routed through a transportation channel or shipping aggregator before being delivered to the customer. Shippers and carriers calculate the billable costs of freight based on the volume. Even if the actual weight is low, as in the case of garments or other similar products, packing it to achieve the least DIM is often worth it to keep the packaging from significantly increasing the overall package weight and thus, the cost of the entire shipment.

Delivery to the Final Customer

The final process is delivery which means handing over the product to the customer. Shipping routes frequently use multiple carriers. For example, the carrier may pick up a package at the fulfillment center that will later be delivered to the customer’s home by another carrier. These hybrid shipping methods are used for a variety of reasons such as delivery estimates and costs provided by each carrier.

Why do D2C Brands Need a Fulfillment Partner? Top 10 Reasons

The final stage of supply chain management is D2C fulfillment. Direct to Consumer fulfillment enables products to be delivered to the desired location. Below is the list of benefits that D2C brands experience by collaborating with a fulfillment partner:

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

DSC Fulfillment companies devote their efforts to providing quick and efficient order fulfillment services. Working with a fulfillment company provides you with skilled staff and warehouse management systems. Your orders will be expertly packed and shipped, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

Obtaining Valuable Business Expertise 

Companies need to value insights offered by their D2C fulfillment partners to be successful. When you find the perfect fulfillment partner and build a strong working relationship, the fulfillment company can be critical to the growth of your business. Furthermore, your partner is a valuable resource for queries about inventory planning, packaging, shipping, and other fulfillment-related topics.

Adaptable Warehouse Space 

Expansion and growth are crucial for any eCommerce company. However, the sudden increment in demand and supply may force you to scramble for additional warehouse space and fulfillment capacity. When you work with a direct-to-consumer fulfillment company, especially one that uses a variable cost model for the fulfillment, you can quickly and easily scale up or down your fulfillment requirements, based on demand.

Differentiation From the Competition

In today’s competitive market, it is nearly impossible for D2C brands to differentiate themselves just on the basis of pricing or product offerings. However, by focusing on providing a stellar customer experience during the fulfillment process, your brand can differentiate itself from the competition and establish a much stronger emotional bond with its customers.

Increasing the Value of Your Offerings

Every touchpoint in the order fulfillment process, especially the moment of delivery, must be streamlined if you want to be perceived as a premium service. It is much easier to justify high-end pricing when buyers believe they’re getting an exclusive experience. According to a study, more than 75% of customers are willing to spend more at a company that provides a superior customer experience.

Increasing Your Scalability

The most difficult aspect of D2C fulfillment is scalability. Order fulfillment services are a fantastic way for brands to improve customer experiences, but they also pose one of the biggest obstacles in 2C fulfillment, because eCommerce shipping firms with a high volume of orders face unique challenges. D2C brands have a big edge over traditional stores through their ability to manage the entire consumer experience. 

Improving Customer Service 

It is often simpler to keep customers than it is to find new ones. Most order fulfillment companies offer phone or email support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing for simple returns and exchanges. A D2C fulfillment partner can also provide you with assured delivery dates or same-day delivery services. It helps to improve the overall customer experience.

Minimizing Operating Costs

It is expensive to ship your packages, hire employees, buy packaging supplies, sustain quality control, and rent space. You can avoid these overhead costs by partnering with a D2C fulfillment company and sharing resources and space with other sellers. In short, 3PL fulfillment services will minimize your operating costs by outsourcing fulfillment for D2C businesses where you wouldn’t hire or supervise any staff or worry about fulfillment logistics.

Reducing Shipping Costs

Many people will ignore outsourcing fulfillment requirements because they perceive it as an additional cost. However, D2C fulfillment service companies can save you money in various areas, including shipping costs. To begin with, a direct to consumer fulfillment partners may have fulfillment centers and shipping partners located throughout the country and even abroad. They ensure that your goods are closer to your buyers by balancing your inventory across this vast network of fulfillment centers. 

Accelerating Delivery Speed

The impact of being able to access numerous warehouses scattered across the country extends to reduced shipping times. Outsourcing fulfillment lets you deliver faster by locating inventory closer to your buyers. It is a huge benefit for retail businesses. Most consumers expect their purchases to arrive in two days or less. You may need a strong D2C fulfillment partner to meet those high demands and compete with the country’s largest chain retailers.

What are the Key Services Offered by D2C Fulfillment Companies?

Inbound Logistics 

Products are delivered in bulk to the warehouse, and inventoried, according to their demand, expiry date, and other metrics.

Warehousing 

Storing inventory is mandatory to deliver them securely to your customers. Your products are stored at the fulfillment center until they are shipped to the consumer.

Inventory Management

Once you have stored your inventory in a D2C fulfillment provider’s warehouse, they will manage it for you. They will monitor and maintain optimal inventory levels to avoid understocking and overstocking. 

Distribution Centers or Direct to Consumer Fulfillment Centers 

D2C Fulfillment companies will offer distribution center services where the required goods will shift from the warehouse to these distribution centers to initiate the delivery process to the end customers.

Packing and Moving 

Sending orders in generic, lifeless brown boxes creates an unpleasant and impersonal client experience. The D2C fulfillment partner takes care of this by efficiently packing the orders securely with premium materials and attractive designs so that they can be shipped as soon as possible.

Last-Mile Delivery

Customers prefer to have their orders delivered to their homes rather than shopping in large crowds and queuing for payment, particularly during the pandemic. As a result, this requirement forces online retailers to invest in last-mile delivery management software to manage their last-mile delivery services, which are provided by d2c fulfillment partners.

Returns and Outbound Logistics 

Returns, also known as reverse logistics, are an essential component of direct-to-consumer fulfillment. Shippers and carriers pick up packages from the warehouse and deliver them to customers. Setting up an efficient returns process for your customers will increase your sales and reduce wastage.

Route Planning and Optimization 

Evaluating the most cost-effective route and mitigating any roadblocks and delays is known as route planning. It is more difficult than simply determining the shortest path between two points. D2C fulfillment companies also offer this effective service.

Tracking Solutions 

Customers who shop online expect real-time updates on the status of their orders. D2C fulfillment partners invest in cutting-edge technology to provide tracking solutions. It assists in ensuring efficient order mapping and timely communication with customers via fulfillment statuses.

Centralized Delivery Planning 

Fulfillment companies put a lot of focus on providing centralized delivery planning. Centralized delivery planning entails making decisions holistically at a higher level rather than independently at the local level.

Automation 

Automation eradicates the need for manual data entry, resulting in a more streamlined order fulfillment process that can process higher volumes of orders with fewer people involved.

Four Different Ways of Fulfilling Direct-to-Consumer orders

There are various ways to fulfill the demands of the D2C brands, and here is a list of  the 4 most prominent solutions:

In-House Fulfillment

In-house order fulfillment, also known as self-fulfillment, occurs when a merchant completes all the steps of the fulfillment process internally without the assistance of a drop shipper or fulfillment company. At this stage, in-house fulfillment typically consumes a significant amount of valuable time that could be spent on obtaining more customers, developing new products, and launching marketing campaigns. Both warehouse space and warehouse management are required for in-house fulfillment.

Fulfillment Through an External Partner

Fulfillment through an external partner is when a third-party order fulfillment company handles the shipping, storing, and order or refund processing. Employees of the fulfillment company will take on the entire fulfillment process, from receiving inventory from manufacturers to delivering products to the end customer. Inventory is stored in a 3PL-controlled warehouse, which means that companies that use outsourced fulfillment do not need to invest in their own warehouse facilities. Companies that do not have enough storage space or personnel may opt for this option.

Independent 3PL Fulfillment

Third-party fulfillment companies are experts in direct-to-consumer fulfillment. When you work with a 3PL, you have complete control over the entire process. You can select which 3PL warehouse locations you should use for storage and shipments. Your products can be shipped in your own brands’ packaging, and your 3PL can add package inserts to customize and personalize the customer experience. Furthermore, fulfillment centers also provide various services to assist you in growing your business. 

Hybrid Model

A hybrid fulfillment model is used by a company that uses a combination of the above order fulfillment options. A company, for example, may process some orders in-house, such as specially made items or easily perishable goods. Some businesses use drop-shipping for infrequently purchased items or that they would not want to store in-house, such as huge or expensive items. It is ideal for businesses requiring more flexibility or experiencing rapid growth.

Factors to Consider when choosing a D2C Fulfillment Service

You cannot randomly choose a D2C fulfillment service for your business, and the wrong choice may bring a poor reputation and significant losses to your brand image. There are a few factors that you should consider when choosing a D2C fulfillment service, and these are listed below:

Price

Hard-earned money is extremely, especially for a budding eCommerce retailer., As a business owner, you need to think about your requirements and available budget while choosing a D2C fulfillment service. Fulfillment services are a huge process for your business, and it is necessary to enquire about charges for various services. Try to compare the prices of 2 to 3 companies and pick the more reasonable and cost-effective option. It is not a good idea to opt for the cheapest service which may not be professional.

Operational Network

Apart from price, you need to consider various other things, including investigating their shipping network. If you plan on expanding your business operations, you would need a fulfillment company that already provides services in locations that you would want to expand to.

Flexibility and Location

Customers have grown accustomed to same-day delivery as even more eCommerce businesses strive to reduce the time between ordering and receipt of the product. When choosing a fulfillment service, the goal is to ensure that the products arrive at their destination as soon as possible and their services are flexible. The shorter the required time for delivery, the happier your customers will be. As a result, location is important when selecting a provider for your company, and don’t forget to consider their flexibility.

Inventory Management and Daily Reporting

The next essential factor to consider is their inventory management and daily reporting services. Details about inventory levels are necessary for your business, and it is the D2C fulfillment provider’s responsibility to analyze and report them on a daily basis. Look for a fulfillment provider who handles inventory management and provides regular and accurate reporting on your inventory levels to save time. It allows you to easily manage your stock levels and ensure a smooth order flow.

Quality of Fulfillment

Quality of fulfillment is an unavoidable factor to consider when selecting a fulfillment service provider for your business. There is a study that shows 50% of customers will not shop again on the same platform if they had a bad experience such as a delay in delivery, poor packing and damaged packing, etc. They expect to have a smooth delivery, customer support, and return options, which are not possible in self-fulfillment. Check the quality of the D2C fulfillment service by enquiring about previous client encounters, quality control procedures, etc., and choose the provider once you feel satisfied with their quality control levels.

Existing Client Base

The final factor to consider by you for choosing a fulfillment service provider is their existing client base. Knowledge about the experience that previous and current customers of the fulfillment company can equip you with all the tools that you need to determine if they are the right fit for your requirements.

Why Should You Choose WareIQ as a D2C Fulfillment Partner?

Delivering the orders to your customers directly without intermediaries is not an easy task without the help of a fulfillment service. If you want your D2C brand to shine better in this competitive world, hire the best fulfillment service company after considering the factors involved in developing your business. Check every detail listed above, such as the process involved and the benefits of hiring the fulfillment service company.

WareIQ stands apart from the rest as one of the best D2C fulfillment partners for businesses of every size and domain. 

WareIQ, a Y-combinator-backed startup, has rapidly grown to be the leading full-stack eCommerce fulfillment company for some of the most reputed brands in India. WareIQ offers a full-stack platform for eCommerce companies to enable same-day delivery and next-day delivery to customers – an Amazon Prime-like experience but accessible to everyone.

WareIQ has empowered brands to sell more, sell faster & sell everywhere due to:

  • Access to WareIQ’s strong nationwide network of fulfillment centers, micro-fulfillment centers & urban dark stores near their customers
  • Access to all major national & hyperlocal last-mile couriers at discounted rates for making same/next day deliveries possible
  • Easy integration across multiple online platforms & marketplaces enhancing multi-channel selling
  • Access to a superior centralized tech platform for eCommerce operations
    • ML-based prediction engine for efficient warehouse network design & smart inventory placement
    • Centralized platform for core fulfillment & shipping operations
    • Post-shipping apps for delightful experience & zero to minimum supply chain leakages (Branded tracking page with smart marketing placements; Trigger-based updates & smart communication platform)

WareIQ has customized offerings for merchants experiencing different order volumes as well as having different delivery speed expectations. WareIQ is probably one of the very few fulfillment tech companies in the world that have same-day delivery service for their customers under their product “WareIQ RUSH”.

ecommerce courier services_wareiq info

With world-class WMS functionalities, WareIQ handles the entire range of intricate operations in the eCommerce fulfillment process, ranging from Inbound Operations such as scanning and quality check, through 100% accurate Pick and Pack, to Inventory Management across all channels.

WareIQ’s next day delivery and same-day delivery services are helping eCommerce businesses set new standards with respect to setting customer expectations and fulfilling them with high efficacy. At the same time, WareIQ customers realise significant cost savings and wider reach due to better negotiations with shipping partners, strategically placed warehouses, economies of scale and scope in eCommerce warehousing and data-driven decision making.

WareIQ’s WMS, a centralised tech platform helps to better manage undelivered orders by reducing NDR processing time by 12 hours – a multifunctional NDR dashboard helps to track and take immediate action for undelivered orders in real-time, thereby reducing RTO by up to 10%. Automatic replenishment recommendations and easy purchase order creation capabilities on the WareIQ platform further empower eCommerce companies to leverage all possible ways of increasing their ROI.

300+ brands, such as The Man Company, Future Group, Kama Ayurveda and Wingreens Farms, have trusted WareIQ as a reliable partner in their growth journeys. No minimum order quantity requirements make it suitable even for small businesses, having low order quantities, to take advantage of the latest trends such as next day delivery and same-day delivery. The onboarding process is simple, convenient and less time consuming, while the pricing policy is clear and transparent. WareIQ also undertakes strict safety precautions at its warehouses and complete ownership of the operations, thereby minimising the risk exposure of WareIQ customers.

Thus WareIQ will definitely prove to be a more reliable and trusted long-term fulfillment partner compared to dropshipping and conventional 3PL companies.

Sign Up Now with WareIQ to avail our superior fulfillment tech platform & enhance your online business growth.

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