Order fulfillment can be labeled as the least appealing part of the e-commerce lifecycle. However, as unappealing as it is, order fulfillment is integral to the shopper and retailer. On its simplest level, an order that is placed must be shipped out. So, how can an order fulfillment 3PL be a competitive advantage for retailers?
Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is a leading 3PL that operates a nationwide network of 12 order fulfillment facilities. With such an expansive network, RSL is uniquely positioned to provide the competitive advantage that many retailers need. “The RSL network opens the marketplace to choice and flexibility,” says Michael Manzione, CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics. “Scaling up and down is invaluable and, depending on your size and need, you can utilize our two-day delivery network or drill down to further locate your product closer to the end consumer.”
While RSL is among the 3PLs with the most expansive U.S. networks, they are not stopping there. They recently announced plans to open an additional six U.S. facilities by the end of the year. Their expansion will include the major metropolitan cities of Houston and Los Angeles.
“Our continued expansion into major metropolitan markets is a commitment to our customers,” Manzione says. “Our larger footprint will facilitate our ability to deliver our clients product to their customers via next day ground and even same day in some cases.”
Meeting a client’s demand is always a priority. This is evident in RSL clients that practice Just In Time (JIT) inventory from overseas. When executed properly, JIT is a competitive advantage as the inventory system increases efficiency and decreases waste by receiving product as it is ordered, thereby reducing inventory costs.
Rakuten Super Logistics’ 12 facilities are all located near major shipping ports, which reduces the time from when a product enters the country to when it is received in the warehouse. That close proximity to major container ports allows RSL clients to keep lower inventory levels, thereby reducing their costs while leaving room for scalability.
Scalability is a huge advantage for retailers that have seasonal lifecycles. Take Black Friday as an example. In 2018, Black Friday e-commerce sales in the U.S. topped $6.2 billion, dwarfing the $5 billion in 2017 Black Friday sales.* The strain on 3PLs was enormous but managed through valuable resources. However, many retailers who managed order fulfillment in-house could not meet the increased customer demand.
Operating a vast network of facilities, RSL provides more than just the ability to scale. It provides significant cost savings to its clients. “Our approach to serving the small to middle-size e-commerce companies allows them to compete equally with their larger competitors at a competitive rate,” says Manzione.
Rakuten Super Logistics negotiates shipping rates with the major carriers based on their large-scale shipping volumes. This means that when an e-commerce retailer partners with RSL, they receive the reduced, negotiated shipping rates.
“With the USPS First Class Packages service structure change to zone-based pricing, all e-commerce retailers must consider how to locate their product closer to their customers,” Manzione notes. The zone-based pricing structure will leave many retailers sticker shocked–the cost to ship a one-pound package from LA to New York will be significantly higher. Leveraging Rakuten Super Logistics’ shipping rates will help keep these costs more manageable.
The savings isn’t always bottom line either. “We have built a great two-day ground network and now want to offer additional choices for those seeking same day and next day delivery, while maintaining lower shipping costs,” Manzione says. “Technology is the key to our success. In 2018, we implemented ‘picker-robots’ developed by California-based inVia. The picker robots help increase production and order accuracy. Technology and innovation have been the backbone of Rakuten Super Logistics. We continue to implement the latest technology.”
Manzione continues: “The exponential growth in e-commerce couldn’t have been accomplished without significant changes to logistics. Rakuten Super Logistics has been on the forefront of 3PL innovation; from using robotics to zone skipping, Rakuten Super Logistics provides clients with a competitive advantage to succeed in the tough online space.”