It’s official: e-commerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping are more than just trends and continue to steadily grow. For consumer goods importers and distributors on the fence, it’s time to rethink your operations and begin incorporating developments like DTC order processing and shipping into your business.

This article delves into the physical demands of DTC and the retailer requirements to be prepared for.

The Physical Demands of DTC

Meeting Customer Expectations

The modern consumer puts convenience ahead of almost all other buying factors, and the availability of online ordering means that products are available at the push of a button.

This change in the definition of convenience forces consumer goods companies to adapt and be willing to bring their product closer to this new consumer. That means faster home delivery at a fair value.

But meeting these new consumer expectations can be difficult for businesses using traditional fulfillment and delivery models.

Spikes in Volume

Many companies may not be equipped to handle the order spikes that come along with DTC, which can result in improper order processing, increased manual intervention, inadequate inventory calculations and missed orders. On the flip side, it’s impossible to be constantly prepared for a spike in volume, which would inevitably lead to overstock issues or the need for markdowns.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with built-in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) allows users to share, exchange and validate necessary order information (addresses, items, quantity) with customers. This real-time exchange of information minimizes the risk for human error at order entry, decreases the risk of product being shipped to the wrong location and ensures accurate inventory data between you and your retailers.

Warehouse Efficiency

For DTC orders, picking one order at a time can be detrimental to the success of your business.

Instead, successful DTC businesses utilize a solution with built-in warehouse management capabilities (including bulk pulling) to help automate the picking process. Having the ability to generate pick instructions for any new DTC order that has inventory allocated to it every 60 minutes, for example, means that your team spend less time on repeat trips to the same picking location.

The Retailer Requirements of DTC

Labeling, Branding, and Packaging

All big-box stores have vendor manuals with about 200 pages of guidelines on packaging requirements, delivery policies, and other expectations. If your company isn’t able to adhere to these standards, you risk losing these large-scale DTC orders.

But how do you keep all these retailer standards straight? An ERP for consumer goods has functionality built-in that manages complex DTC shipping requirements to meet retailer demands, while minimizing errors and associated costs. Having the ability to generate shipping labels automatically based on individual retailer requirements or ship packages prepaid using a retailer’s shipping account within the ERP system alleviates manual, error-prone data.

Small Parcel Shipping

As the volume of orders coming in increases and the retail requirements of DTC get more and more complex, it’s almost impossible for companies relying on manual processes to keep up.

An all-in-one system, like an ERP, that integrates with small parcel shipping solutions ensures that all labels are created from one single source of truth; labels are created and printed based on the requirements specified by the retailer and imported into your ERP solution. The same goes for packing slips: using an ERP solution, employees can generate retailer-specific packing slips with corresponding logos and branding directly from the system. There’s no need to manually download that information and create slips and lists on an order-by-order basis.

Ken Weygand is a Senior Solutions Consultant with Aptean Apprise ERP. To learn more about Apprise ERP, Aptean’s fully integrated Consumer Goods ERP solution, visit Aptean's site here.