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Article: Logistics or Fulfillment

What do military logistics and retail fulfillment have in common? Everything! Place an order for a few hundred tanks and relevant bit’s and pieces; tell them when and where you want them delivered; they are paid; logistics kicks in and they are delivered. We all know that as military supply lines. The private sector knows logistics as fulfillment under the guise of ‘Transportation and Inventory Management’ or ‘Physical Distribution Management’ and ‘Supply Chain Management’.

Now logistics/fulfillment can be a competitive weapon both for an army and heightened by the Web, some argue that fulfillment is the ultimate hurdle between winners and losers in a retail environment. In fact, customers using the Web indicate that fulfillment issues such as inventory availability and on-time delivery are the most important aspects of their e-commerce experience.

E-commerce has brought a heightened level of focus to customer satisfaction and delivery fulfillment. And the new technology has business moving nearly at the speed of light. But all that flash and glamour is tarnished if the basic fundamentals aren’t properly designed and managed. In that respect, the day-to-day job of superior supply chain logistics execution is just as important as ever. The key difference today is that visibility across the supply chain, for the first time, can and must become crystal clear if the desired level of customer enthusiasm is to be achieved.

The biggest trend in the logistics industry is the movement of information in tandem with goods and services. In today’s e-business environment moving products is only 50 percent of your job. You must also be able to move information and provide customers with real-time, 24-hour access to the status of their shipments. In essence you must offer customers complete visibility to their supply chain from the factory through transportation to delivery.

Your E-commerce customers want instant answers to three basic questions. Where is their order; can they change their order and when will it ship? Providing instant response via the Internet is essential to success because people don’t buy products, they buy delivered products.

A full-cycle system that integrates an advanced e-commerce front-end with a powerful order fulfillment back-end allows your ecommerce website to attract and retain customers through order fulfillment precision and will enable you to both capture orders and commit inventory to fulfill those orders through real-time access to accurate available-to-promise information.

That is why it is essential to tie your e-commerce operation to a logistics network, either yours or outsource to a fulfillment house.

As you grow, establishing a fast and accurate logistics/fulfillment center is a key to your continued expansion, yet badly managed it can be disastrous. In fact to avoid fulfillment issues and problems many e-tailers are outsourcing their fulfillment operations and management to third party logistics companies.

As successful military leaders know, advancing beyond the capability of supply lines can stop an army dead in its tracks.  What will it do to your e-commerce? - John Shenton - January, 2003
 

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N.B.** The articles were first published in the Times (Montreal, Canada) and written by John Shenton as special contributor to the Times Technology Section. Articles and Reports written by us may be printed or displayed on your website providing they are kept intact and a link/attribution to this website or Internet Merchandising Systems plus authorship is displayed.

 

 

 

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