It’s become a delicate balancing act for online merchants to explore strategies to reduce costs while still meeting customer demands. It becomes increasingly challenging in the age of next-day delivery, environmental concerns, and fierce competition.
An eCommerce company will need to make many adjustments as it expands. Brands should anticipate successes, roadblocks, and a range of growing pains.
Expansion and scaling up will necessitate greater fulfillment capacities. It comes with its own set of unique challenges. An eCommerce company will need to think about how to grow and adapt during its existence. It may require reevaluating elements like fulfillment centers and warehouses.
To help deal with more significant fulfillment needs while staying lean and agile, online merchants may consider microfulfillment centers.
Microfulfillment is an order fulfillment system that can complete orders in less than an hour and has high throughput and storage density. To be closer to the customer, it fits into smaller spaces in metropolitan areas using reliable logistics technology.
The modern consumer will pay for convenience as they want to receive their orders immediately. They may quickly get the best deal on necessities by shopping at several locations and using the online marketplace. It’s in your best interest to prioritize customer needs. Buyers with a bad online or in-store purchasing experience will likely go with a competitor.
Growing Your Business With Microfulfillment Centers
Hyperlocal fulfillment is becoming a necessity for online merchants. This comes from ongoing changes in consumer expectations and needs brought about by eCommerce and the retail landscape.
With the help of microfulfillment centers (MFCs), businesses—whether or not they have a physical presence in a specific area—can relocate fulfillment closer to their clients. Being closer to your customers saves money on transportation and facilitates faster delivery times. These warehouses are small, as the name suggests, but are fully functional to fulfill online orders quickly, effectively, and independently.
A microfulfillment center can be constructed by businesses next to an existing location or as a stand-alone structure.
Order picking is a major, basic cost issue that MFCs can quickly solve. Automation and robotics facilitate order picking when fulfilling orders online. Product retrieval from the storage area can be done more accurately and efficiently with automation, reducing personnel expenses.
The intention is to situate these micro-fulfillment facilities sufficiently close to customers’ residences to lower last-mile delivery costs significantly. MFCs are robotic, data-driven, adaptable tech solutions that you can use to take advantage of. It’s even future-proof.
Besides their intended usage, microfulfillment centers and conventional, large-scale warehouses differ significantly in size. They each offer a different set of advantages for eCommerce companies.
Microfulfillment centers are smaller operations with a maximum floor area of 10,000 square feet. They are typically housed in an existing store or warehouse to avoid interfering with regular business. They need to be restocked frequently because of their limited capacity. MFCs will typically only hold 24 or 48 hours’ worth of merchandise. These fulfillment centers are designed to have goods available for picking, packing, and shipping as soon as orders are received. They are not meant for long-term storage.
Larger fulfillment centers can be significantly larger, depending on the scope of operations. Warehouses usually vary in size in the 300,000-square-foot range. Bigger fulfillment centers can hold enormous volumes of inventory, which may not need to be refilled as frequently and may survive for several months of operations.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of supply chain expenses are incurred at the final mile. Businesses constantly search for methods to reduce delivery costs without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Microfulfillment might save up to 60% on the cost per purchase.
The last mile is always the final delivery step, regardless of distance. It might be a driver putting a box on your porch or a truck backing up to a receiving dock at a business.
The efficiency of eCommerce retail can be significantly increased by strategically establishing micro-fulfillment facilities in metropolitan areas. Whether housed in a backroom or constructed as standalone buildings, MFCs boost retail expansion by increasing fulfillment capacity.
The Unique Advantages of Microfulfillment Centers
Microfulfillment facilities are becoming a vital component of the supply chain. They have great potential to save on delivery costs by cutting down on the last mile and customer wait times. They are also the best option for curbside pickup orders that are placed online. MFCs can assist you in meeting evolving consumer expectations. Using automation technology and the appropriate strategy can also improve the customer experience.
Optimized Order Picking
When a consumer purchases a product online, your delivery timer begins the moment the order is placed. The first step in delivering orders faster is to get things out of storage as soon as possible. Consumers now want same-day or even one-hour delivery, which can be too much for human capacity in situations involving high sales volumes. Online retailers often use Picking robots to keep up with the rapid growth of eCommerce.
Robots ‘ efficiency can vary depending on the type of product, though, in many situations, they are much faster than people. For instance, automation might allow a fulfillment facility that can process 60 orders an hour with human labor to process 600 orders an hour.
Since they are located close to the consumer, micro-fulfillment centers expedite order picking times and allow for faster delivery. Owing to space constraints, a traditional distribution center cannot be established in a residential area. Due to the noise and traffic congestion produced by commercial trucks, residents would oppose such a proposal even if there was enough room.
The smallest microfulfillment centers can fit in less than 2,000 square feet, which allows them to operate even in the middle of a busy city center. MFCs also make it possible to keep goods considerably closer to the customer. Items ordered online can be brought to customers without much difficulty. Same-day delivery is not feasible for a store that relies on a traditional distribution center in a remote area.
Establishing and running massive fulfillment centers can be incredibly expensive. Smaller businesses lack the funding and resources necessary to operate a storage facility. Using microfulfillment centers facilitates easier brand scalability despite potential capacity constraints.
Microfulfillment centers are quicker, more effective, and less expensive to operate than traditional warehouses. MFCs may require a large initial investment, but the benefits are evident and immediate once they are running. Thanks to warehouse automation systems, online retailers may fulfill orders faster and at a lower cost per order.
Superior Customer Service
Businesses can improve the consumer experience by using microfulfillment centers since they enable speedier deliveries. Furthermore, fulfillment centers nearer to clients mean that exchanges, refunds, and returns may be processed faster, improving customer satisfaction.
Customers can pick up their orders locally at one of the many mini fulfillment centers, which serve as “dark stores.” By allowing your clients to retrieve their items at their convenience, you can avoid having them wait for delivery. This flexibility enables companies to enhance the client experience even more by providing a variety of delivery and pickup choices.
Improved Workplace Safety
Online merchants can guarantee worker safety with automated fulfillment centers by assigning dangerous and labor-intensive activities to robots and other machinery. Robotic automation technology helps avoid common warehouse accidents caused by hard lifting, falling from heights, or operating heavy gear and boxes.
MFCs are frequently smaller operations that use less energy and upkeep than physical stores. You can spend less on electricity and utility bills to maintain an MFC. This makes it simple to create new facilities that will most effectively serve customers. Compared to a larger retailer or supermarket store, these compact, incredibly efficient MFCs require less financial commitment and can be installed almost anywhere.
Businesses can examine customer ordering patterns even after a brief period of sales activity. It lets them decide which products to maintain in greater stock inside the MFCs. The data may also indicate which goods require a minimal amount of stock to be kept on hand. This makes it possible for a company’s structure to be less wasteful and more efficient. Finally, since the microfulfillment center is closer to the customers, delivery fleets use less fuel and spend less time in traffic. Having a superior location can do great things for carbon footprint reduction initiatives.
eCommerce companies that distribute goods to consumers should use a micro fulfillment center strategy to enhance their supply chain. In the last-mile delivery space, speed is the biggest difference maker. Your company can increase sales by simply fulfilling consumer orders faster.
Microfulfillment centers are becoming more and more popular, which helps companies of all sizes satisfy customer demand, stay competitive, and improve their fulfillment processes.
ZhenHub gives your business access to microfulfillment centers through our global network of fulfillment partners. With operations in over 23 countries and four continents, bringing your products to an international market has never been easier. Sign up today for access to our online dashboard.