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Blog postsMarch 09, 2017

eCommerce Fulfillment “How-To” Guide for Shippers

You have the supply and there’s a demand, but you’re struggling to optimize your eCommerce fulfillment services and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is forcing you to leave money on the table.

Karl Siebrecht, Co-founder & CEO, FLEXE

There’s a better way.

With eCommerce fulfillment services from FLEXE, you can reduce shipping time and costs associated with the last mile of delivery. Our extensive network of warehouses enables you to find the space and services you need—when and where you need it. Gain the agility to test new markets, launch a product promotion, and offer same-day shipping—all without entering into traditional long-term lease agreements.

We’ve put together a “how-to” guide for shippers interested in expanding their network and competing with Amazon.

Use our how-to guide to:

  • See what it takes to get up and running with FLEXE eCommerce Fulfillment services
  • Learn about one-and-done legal contracts
  • Find out how to get the most out of your FLEXE network
  • Discover that FLEXE is the right solution for you

1. eCommerce fulfillment 101

You want to get closer to your customers

Formally setting up fulfillment centers at all the locations you need is costly and will likely break your budget. With FLEXE, find short-term or ongoing fulfillment solutions. Join our network and we’ll connect you with the right partner(s) for distribution.

A national network of FC partners at your fingertips

FC operators with extra space list their services on our online marketplace. All you have to do is give us a call, we’ll enter your specific needs (space, capabilities, and location), and we’ll find you a match.

FLEXE connects you with the right partners

Once a match has been made, FLEXE will work with both parties to make sure it’s a good fit and successful partnership. With on-demand fulfillment centers, you can get your products closer to your customers to save shipping time and costs.

2. Getting started

Step 1: Define scope

Adding eCommerce fulfillment centers is no small feat. To ensure it’s successful, our FLEXE experts partner with you to define the full scope of your solution—including operational and technology requirements. We’ll then use that information to find the warehouse provider(s) that’s right for the job.

Step 2: Find and select your warehouse provider(s)

We start by identifying a handful of “best-fit” partners based on location, fulfillment service capabilities, and project fit. Then we send your project to bid within that network. You are notified of which potential partners accept your bid and we work with you to make the decision.

Step 3: Support your business with tailored technology

After you find a partner, we customize the technology to support your specific needs. This includes things like loading in SKUs, item master, product characteristics, configuring ideal put-away and picking, shipping functionality, and establishing integration between FLEXE’s system and yours.

Step 4: Get the teams trained

We train relevant personnel on each side how to use the technology, so the project runs smoothly from start to finish.

Step 5: Go live

We develop a project plan, identify key team members, and conduct pre- and post-go-live monitoring. We have an operations team and project management process to make sure the implementation is successful. We then monitor the project before and after to ensure the highest level of operational performance.

3. One-and-done legal contracts

One contract, as many providers as you need

Through FLEXE’s contracting process, you and the warehouse partners sign and acknowledge the same set of terms and conditions. Once you have gone through FLEXE’s one-time, up-front contracting process, you are free to do business and transact with any and all providers within the FLEXE marketplace. Custom terms are available.

Manage contracts online

We aim to take the never-ending back and forth of redlines out of the equation. All contracts are managed and reviewed through our online portal, and can be securely signed and accepted with the click of a button. Scope and pricing exhibits are managed at the reservation-level, and get reviewed by both parties online before agreeing to move forward with live operations.

4. The technology

Cloud-based, no hassle

The FLEXE technology platform is cloud-based—no subscriptions, no software to download. Access your dashboard with a simple login. With an intuitive interface, it’s easy to get started and easy to use.

One platform, multiple providers

Manage multiple fulfillment providers in varying locations from a single dashboard. The entire network is connected and standardized through the same “WMS lite” platform—giving you total visibility into your inventory and operations across all of the providers with whom you’re working.

Automated tracking and billing

Automated tracking and billing makes it easier to manage pick-ups, deliveries, and operations. All billing is handled through our technology platform and all your inventory details and history can be seen online, in real time.

5. Leverage the FLEXE network

Test new markets

Once you are a part of the FLEXE network, it’s easy to add fulfillment centers and grow your network. You can test new markets with little risk because you can popup and pop-down centers without any capital costs.

Offer same-day delivery or launch a product promotion

Similar to testing new markets, it’s easy to grow your networks to accommodate special product promotions or test same-day delivery. Easily define the length of time for different promotions to test effectiveness and build your strategy.

Manage peak seasons better

Use the FLEXE network to better manage overflow issues during peak seasons by scaling capacity. Add short-term warehousing when and where you need it.

Perform a network analysis

A network analysis helps you optimize your FC strategy. A network analysis is run through a network modeling tool that runs all your fulfillment variables through its system and calculates the most optimal solution— including how many FCs you should have and where they should be.

Manage returns

Returns happen. Once an item is returned to the warehouse, operators can easily mark the item as returned in the application, send it for repackaging, and restock it in the inventory to be sold.

Improve your delivery promise

As you test and adapt your on-demand fulfillment network, offer faster and more affordable delivery times and rates to improve your overall delivery promise to your customers.

Keep in touch with FLEXE

Let us know how you’re doing and keep us aware of upcoming logistics initiatives. By staying in touch and keeping us informed, our team is better equipped to offer suggestions and help you plan for future needs.

6. See how others do it

Startup advantage

A startup in a competitive market used pop-up fulfillment to scale its distribution network without costly acquisitions and long-term commitments. In a few weeks, it was fulfilling 1-2 day deliveries and gaining an advantage over competitors. It’s on-time orders and accuracy rates jumped from 60% to 99% and it cut transportation costs by 15%.

  • Fully operating distribution network in just three weeks
  • 15% cut in transportation costs
  • Improved on-time orders and accuracy rates by almost 40%
  • Positioned to handle seasonal inventory spikes and overflow problems faster

Swift solutions

A popular shoe company used pop-up fulfillment to expand its pop-up stores into new markets without exceeding its budget. By getting its inventory closer to its pop-up stores, the company saved money and reached more customers.

  • Started delivering on customer promise immediately, creating a competitive advantage
  • Significant transportation cost savings
  • Expanded pop-up stores into three new markets without exceeding budget
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