Marketing & Distribution in the Modern World

Posted by Maeghan Hurley on Fri, Aug 08, 2014 @ 11:39 AM

 Marketing and Distribution in the Modern World

Marketing, now more than ever, is responsible for a lot of the business we do, but especially in the world of ecommerce. Sales are now announced the day they’re occurring, and retailers can boost their sales by simply shooting an email to their mailing list, and allow sales to go far longer than normal storefront hours would allow. But what effect does this have on distribution?

Fulfilling Orders on Short Notice

Without good communication between the retailer and their 3PL partner, a surprise sale can whip a distribution center into a frenzy. Offers can include things like free two-day shipping, and big sales like that require extra staff—something that it might take a while for a 3PL to gather if they aren’t prepared.

Of course, it’s not always on the retailer. With some recent negative PR surrounding an issue with book publisher Hachette, Amazon has driven some book sales to their competitors—in some cases even encouraging customers to buy from their competitors. Because this happened so suddenly, 3PLs responsible for fulfilling those orders likely found themselves quite a bit busier out of the blue.

Staffing the Distribution Center on Short Notice

Anything can draw a group of customers onto a website to start making orders, and it happens in a flash. Because many marketers don’t make the distribution center aware of this sale beforehand, things get hectic. The DC is responsible for getting the staff in to handle the increased workload, but in the mean time, it means that fewer people are responsible for handling much more work. When employees are good, of course, the job will still be done effectively, but that’s not to say they aren’t stretched until the cavalry arrives.  

Dealing with Additional Returns

Returns are inevitable, unfortunately, but 3PLs do everything in their power to limit them. And with a large amount of moved product as a result of a flash sale or a PR fumble on the part of a competitor, the number of returns a warehouse sees may increase dramatically. Even with preventative measures put into place, returns are still a costly part of retail that no 3PL or retailer enjoys dealing with.

Of course, all of these messes are preventable. Communication is the best means to ensure that your 3PL is prepared for any flash sales planned by marketing—or in some cases, increased orders due to competitor PR flubs. A quick phone call can ensure that the warehouse is staffed, ready to fulfill a lot more orders on short notice, and thereby limit the number of returns they’re forced to process.


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Topics: Returns, 3PL, Fulfillment, E-commerce