Retailers and consumers alike are always looking for the newest cheapest way to ship. For consumers, this may mean weighing up their shipping carrier options, or making a choice between express and standard delivery. Retailers, on the other hand, face a very different set of problems.

Implementing affordable and efficient shipping and logistics for your brand inevitably comes with pain points. Things like supply chain breakdowns, inconvenient warehouse locations, and the challenges of Covid restrictions have put shipping and logistics under extreme pressure. But as e-commerce takes over from bricks-and-mortar shopping, it’s essential to get your shipping right.

Business owners recognise the importance of innovation. At ShipStation we’ve seen e-commerce businesses readily adopt multi-channel shipping software and reap the benefits. Now it’s time to implement multi-location fulfilment and delivery.

Multi-location fulfilment AKA “multiple warehouse locations” is the secret ingredient that has given many of our biggest e-commerce retailers an edge. But what is it, how does it work, and how can it benefit your store? Read on.

What is Multi-Location Fulfilment? 

Many businesses have already been doing small-scale, multi-location fulfilment without even realising it. Inside Retail reported in July 2020 that many businesses had turned their stores into micro-fulfilment centres during lockdown. The benefits were manifold. Ship-from-store fulfilment meant store spaces weren’t going to waste and inventory remained steady while manufacturing supply chains struggled.

Consumers quickly realised the benefits of buying an item shipped from nearby, too. Firstly, short delivery windows with a fast turnaround became a reality. Secondly, shorter fulfilment to doorstep distances cut down on carbon emissions, which made shipping much more eco-friendly. Finally, shorter distances meant cheaper shipping prices. All big ticks from the consumer’s perspective.

This brings us to now. When businesses reverted back to their usual fulfilment centres they noticed a shortfall between their old shipping methods and consumers’ new expectations. Consumers had a taste for fast, affordable, eco-friendly shipping and there was no going back.

Even businesses without physical stores felt the change and began to seek out ways to spread out their distribution. Something was needed, and that something was multi-location fulfilment.

Multi-location fulfilment services strategically organise your stock across multiple distribution centres all around the country, so you can fulfil parts of an order separately based on the location of your customers and inventory.

In essence, multi-location fulfilment services follow a much greater trend. It decentralises services and spreads out across a much larger network that puts brands closer to their customers.

Why We Love Multi-Location Fulfilment 

Businesses can hardly be expected to set up and manage their own fulfilment networks, so third party logistics (3PL) stepped up to the task.

Multi-location fulfilment centres are now scattered everywhere, with Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) leading the way. You can easily sign on and get all the benefits of 3PL delivery, while still offering customers localised fulfilment.

One of the biggest benefits of multi-location 3PL is that you can get back to running your business, without stretching your resources to offer in-store fulfilment. You can also pool your energy into scaling your business—as you now have much greater reach across the country.

You may also want to lean into your new eco-friendly credential. Multi-location fulfilment centres put you that much closer to achieving carbon neutral status and garnering the attention of eco-conscious consumers. That’s 46% of shoppers under thirty, and 34% of shoppers over fifty – and potentially a huge revenue increase for you.

You can also offer cheaper shipping, and reel in those customers otherwise put off by high shipping costs. In the same spirit, you can reach out to customers who love fast shipping, and add a suite of new delivery options to your store, such as same-day, next-day, two-day, and three-day delivery speeds.

Finally, you can rest easy knowing your fulfilment network is more resilient than ever. For example, if one location is adversely affected by lockdowns, you can switch your fulfilment to another centre, and so on.

Can I Put Multi-Location and Multi-Channel Shipping Together?

E-Commerce businesses have been making the move to offer their products on multiple marketplaces, if you haven’t yet – this is your sign. From an administrative point of view, the management of all these channels is complex, which is why a huge amount of inventory and logistics is managed by automated 3PL software. Can multi-location shipping fit in with all that? The simple answer is yes.

In fact, activating multi-location shipping is easier than you may think. Multi-location shipping software can already easily facilitate the shipping and fulfilment process for online retailers.

ShipStation automatically retrieves and consolidates order information from over 100 sales channels and 50 shipping carriers. We offer shipping and efficiency tools that go far beyond printing shipping labels. ShipStation lets you automatically choose the best shipping service for each order, batch print up to 500 labels at once, and automate notifying customers and selling channels with tracking and shipment information.

For those looking to outsource some or all of their shipping operations, including picking, packing, shipping and customer service across multiple locations, ShipStation has a solution.

Say Goodbye to Centralisation, Say Hello to Multi-Location 

ShipStation and ChannelAdvisor work great for multi-location distribution. Australian retailers no longer need to make a choice between local distribution centres and the efficiency of large third-party logistics. ChannelAdvisor gives you greater insight into your selling channels and ShipStation helps you simplify shipping. Together, they eliminate many work hours from your week and help you organise multi-location distribution and avoid errors.

They are now uniquely positioned to reap all the benefits from the technologies ChannelAdvisor and ShipStation have to offer, to automate growth, expand distribution, and offer competitive shipping at a lower cost.

Posted by Contributor