CBRE’s latest report, “E-Commerce in the Post-Pandemic Era” , provides valuable insights into the current dynamics of the e-commerce market in Europe. Germany, ranked as the second-largest e-commerce market in the region with an 18% share of total spending in euros, stands out prominently.
While many Western European markets have either reverted to pre-pandemic e-commerce growth rates or are currently trailing behind, Germany continues its upward trajectory, surpassing its pre-pandemic growth forecast by 0.8 years.
A significant post-pandemic trend highlighted in the report is the renewed preference of customers to experience products physically. About 50% of surveyed individuals expressed a desire to see the product in-store before making an online purchase. In comparison, 42% prefer online shopping with the option to return products in a physical store.
In the ever-evolving e-commerce landscape, exceeding customer shopping expectations has become paramount. As online retailers strive for excellence in this competitive environment, the role of fulfillment companies has gained heightened significance.
What key benefits should an e-commerce brand look for in a fulfillment partner?
Choosing the right fulfillment partner not only enables the e-commerce brand to meet customers’ expectations and maintain its market position but also facilitates the efficient scaling of operations to meet the growing demand for its products. If you are considering starting with a new fulfillment partner, pay attention to the following points:
The best 3PL partner should carefully examine the needs of your e-commerce brand and create a dedicated solution that not only fits perfectly but is also highly productive, intelligent and cost-effective. Excellent services, including order picking and personalisation, packing and shipping, as well as returns and complaints handling and support from dedicated customer service and transport representatives will ensure tailored order fulfillment.
Cooperation with your fulfillment partner should bring cost savings and contribute to the overall profitability of your brand.
High Capacity, High Savings
Gaining more capacity will enable higher carrier volumes and generate cost savings.
Scale Up, Scale Down
Fulfillment solution should be scalable as well. This is needed to handle of varying capacities, particularly during peak seasons or sudden spikes in demand.
Improved In-Transit Times
Quicker deliveries to end customers are essential today. When you are delivering across Europe, it can be achieved through a reduction in overall in-transit times across the region. Such improvements are facilitated by the strategic geographical placement of warehouses, access to better carrier deals, and the implementation of automation solutions. The implementation of cutting-edge automation technology may be a strategic move, ensuring rapid, high-quality, and reliable order processing.
A fast and easy returns process for end customers is a cornerstone of today’s customer service. Ensure your 3PL partner provides on-demand refurbishment and rapid integration of re-sellable and re-dispatchable goods with inbound delivery, seamlessly adapting to customer expectations and maintaining quality standards.
Real-Time Data Visibility
Real-time access to data providing full visibility of the entire warehouse and supply chain, including fulfillment, picking, shipping and last-mile delivery events. All this information brought together in one place, in a user-friendly format, will improve order management. Being made available by a 3PL partner increases the transparency and efficiency of the partnership.
Taking on the main responsibility of the investment by the fulfillment partner relieves the e-commerce retailer of significant upfront capital expenses and allows them to focus resources on other strategic areas of the business. Only a few players in Europe can support their customers with capex, to let them leverage their resources for customer acquisition and growth.
Increased Market Reach
A solid fulfillment partner with a widespread network of warehouses across Europe will enable your brand to gain access to many new markets and services. The expanded reach provides opportunities for further business growth and market development.
Want to find out how it works in reality? Explore how doTERRA, the world’s largest essential oil company, driven by operational efficiency and commitment to customer satisfaction, took its order fulfillment operation to a new level by changing its 3PL partner and introducing automation.
Business Case – scaling a health & beauty brand across borders with the right fulfillment partner
When doTERRA, committed to providing the purest, most potent essential oils and wellness products, ventured into new European markets such as Romania, Lithuania, and Latvia, they experienced a substantial surge in sales and order volumes. Yet, this rapid expansion posed a unique challenge for their fulfillment operations. Today, the new fulfillment solution enables them to handle a volume of orders that is even 400% higher during peak times.
Andreas Kreickmann, Sr. Sales Director Europe (East), Radial Germany: – The doTERRA case study is a great reference for the German market. The health and beauty industry keeps on growing, many companies can improve their bottom line by leveraging the expertise of a fulfillment partner specialized in e-commerce and direct sales. By the way, the same type of project can be executed not only in Germany, but also in Poland, which is perfectly connected to the German transportation system, and from where we can deliver most orders within 24 hours.
Scaling quality orders
As doTERRA expanded into new markets, they faced the challenge of scaling their order fulfillment operations while maintaining the brand’s commitment to quality and timely delivery to end customers. Recognizing the need for a tailored solution, they actively sought a flexible and fast-acting 3PL partner based in the heart of Europe, with excellent access to CEE markets.
Shipping label machine
Same-day shipping x 2
To tailor the ideal fulfillment solution doTERRA along with the new 3PL partner analysed:
– product data,
– end-customer profiles,
– market trends.
The outcome? Implementing an automation system designed to double same-day shipping, seamlessly navigate sales fluctuations, and streamline the management of sales peaks.
400% larger capacity
The Central Belt System proposed by KNAPP has proven to be a game-changer for doTERRA fulfillment operations. Implementing automation enables doTERRA to handle volumes that can be even 400% higher during peak times.
Part of SDA system
The automated systems have eliminated delays in the order processing pipeline. This allows to consistently meet end customer demands while upholding the quality and speed of deliveries.
Automation in action
The automated picking systems form the backbone of doTERRA’s order processing. They combine the Central Belt System with the fast-mover picking machine (SDA), transfer stations, and tailor-made software. Automated document insertion and tote transport to one of the 40 packing stations ensures efficiency and accuracy.
New warehouse in Warsaw, Poland
The transition from manual to automated processes in a greenfield facility spanned 12 months. During this time, contracts were secured with the automation manufacturer, a software provider, and a construction company, and the automation systems, software, and buildings were constructed.
Radial – eCommerce fulfillment expert
Radial, warehouse in Halle
doTERRA chose to cooperate with Radial, a bpostgroup company, and global leader in B2C eCommerce fulfillment. Offering a comprehensive suite of services, including warehousing, transportation, VAS, and customer support, Radial empowers brands to deliver exceptional customer experiences. With a vast network spanning Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland, the US, and Canada, supported by advanced technology and flexible services, Radial ensures clients meet evolving consumer expectations and stay competitive. As part of bpostgroup, Radial brings strength, stability, and a unique commitment to investing alongside customers, remaining agile, flexible, sustainable, and customer-focused. Check Radial at https://www.radial.com/eur and follow on LinkedIn.
 E-Commerce in the Post-Pandemic Era, November 2023, CBRE Research