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In 2015, global eCommerce generated more than $6.6 trillion, reports James Keller of Internet Retailer, and 2016 is shaping up to surpass last year’s records. Meanwhile, major payment processing companies, such as Visa, and dominant shippers are turning their attentiveness to improving global eCommerce this year. But, retailers of all sizes are furthering the goals of eCommerce by enhancing the overall experience for sales professionals and customers. Take a look at some of the trends in efulfillment and how they will shape 2016.

Here’s the Top 11 Trends in eFulfillment Technology

1. Replacement of Old eCommerce Platforms.

Older, antiquated eCommerce platforms are being replaced to make way for the efulfillment burden to of tomorrow. More customers will be engaged in eCommerce this year than ever before, and retailers are seeing a definite shift in the number of customers making online purchases. As a result, older systems will need to have the ability to adapt to surges in eCommerce demand, which inherently warrants increased collaboration among technologies in warehouses and among shippers.

2. More Use of SaaS Systems for eCommerce.

With the growth of newer, better systems for managing eCommerce, the use on-site software suites will be replaced by software-as-a-service platforms. This will further bridge the divide between cloud technologies and the online shopper. Consequently, these systems will allow for automated updating and unsurpassed cloud-computing capabilities, promoting a faster, more efficient supply chain.

3. Greater Use of Integrated Marketplaces for Third-Party Sellers.

Third-party sellers will become more heavily involved in eCommerce thanks to online marketplaces like Amazon increasing the visibility of small businesses, asserts Bill Briggs of Internet Retailer. As a result, the eCommerce platforms of 2016 will need to handle order fulfillment for a variety of vendors and even more customers.

4. Contextual Shopping to Enhance Customers’ Experiences.

Competition in eCommerce is more personalized than ever, but customers are growing weary of tracking login passwords, entering rewards numbers and additional stresses. As a result, the online shopping experience will evolve to include contextual ad displays and offers without necessarily subscribing to a company’s clubs and rewards circles. The only way to achieve this goal will be through advanced predictive analytics systems to better track trends for market-specific areas and actions, promoting a more seamless connection between brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping environments.

5. Increased Customer Engagement and Outreach.

Today’s companies must also be willing to reach out to customers in new ways. The days of email marketing are dying, and today’s customers want to engage with companies before experiencing a problem. As a result, efulfillment centers will need to become more active and helpful to customers before purchases are actually made. This will also help to drive sales and encourage competition among businesses.

6. Stronger Focus on Mobile Technologies and Mobile Development.

Businesses that avoid using mobile technologies, especially apps, to reach customers will fail. Not only are customers demand anytime orders and assistance, but they expect to have access to apps and websites optimized for the mobile experience.

7. More Emphasis on Real-Time Analytics.

Real-time analytics will continue to replace traditional analytics through 2016. The days of reviewing historic data are irrelevant, and more businesses will need access to the most accurate, real-time data to make informed decisions. This may include potential delays during shipping, cost of shipping and changes in the political climate. Yet, the true applications of analytics can expand to virtually any issue a shipper or warehouse may be subject to.

8. Transition to Sustainable Operations.

The modern shopper is also vitally aware of what businesses are and are not using green technologies to promote a more sustainable future. As a result, modern businesses will need to increase the visibility of operations to customers and ensure green technologies are being used wherever applicable.

9. Multi-Order eFulfillment Grows Critical.

Since emerging markets and global eCommerce have skyrocketed, players in eCommerce growth will need to avoid the isolation of working with single-package types, reports Tara Sporrer of Multichannel Merchant. In other words, today’s businesses will need to combine small package, less than truckload and full truckload capabilities to push efficiency beyond the capacity of traditional systems.

10. Greater Options Through More Localized, Regional Centers.

The age of the centralized distribution center is over. With a surge in new customers from new or aging markets, localized, regional centers will be required to help shippers and retailers get products to customers faster and at a cheaper cost. Ultimately, having a wider selection of products in locations nearer to the customer will help keep shipping costs down, especially as UPS and FedEx increase costs throughout the year.

11. Collaboration to Expedite Shipments.

For many warehouses, the idea of competition will change drastically throughout the remainder of 2016. Avoiding interaction and collaboration with competition are leading to a resurgence of monopolies and increased costs to the customers, which could only serve to harm the industry. However, more companies are realizing significant returns can be achieved by simply working with competitors to keep prices low for the customer. As a result, the increase in shipping volume will offset the potential losses of working independently, which will further enhance the overall strength of the eCommerce-driven economy this year.

Efulfillment is a breakthrough in how humanity gets what it needs. Like the marvels of engineering and design of the recent and distant past, efulfillment will need to grow and evolve to meet the demands of an increasing market size, but the only way to evolve will be by providing what customers want, at reasonable prices and with unprecedented speed of delivery. Fortunately, these 11 trends will make the goals of efulfillment possible. 

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