The Forrester Wave™: Order Management Systems, Q2 2023

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Sourcing Logic: 5 Special Handling Use Cases, Explained

Bulky items, fragile items, warm weather flags—and more

Does your business sell products with unique fulfillment needs?

By Michelle Soriano

Jun 4, 2024

As ecommerce maturity evolves, the need for your business to optimize fulfillment processes will increase. Especially if you sell products with unique fulfillment needs.

Basic sourcing logic may be able to handle common use cases based on inventory availability like:

  • Split shipments
  • Route order from closest location
  • Ship from store
  • Buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) / Click & Collect

but what if you need to factor in product attributes as well? Like items that are regulated, fragile, bulky, or need to be sold in bundles? Can the system you use to manage sourcing support sophisticated logic?

And if it could, how much more efficient could you make your business?

Sourcing logic should go beyond split shipments

There are many ways to optimize sourcing and fulfillment logic. Beyond simple actions like shipping from the closest location to the customer, your sourcing logic should enable you to:

  • Ship from the location (or store) with the oldest stock or lowest sell through rate
  • Route fulfillments to specific 3rd party distribution centers for certain products or brands
  • Ignore split shipment rules for items that have to ship alone
  • Factor in safety stock levels by product, category or location

But it goes even further than that. Let’s explore 5 special handling use cases.

Use Case #1 – Bulky items

If you ship large, oversized items, it’s not just about availability. A location’s capacity to fulfill bulky orders may not be the same as for regular orders. There might be limitations on labor or equipment availability, like forklifts. Can you limit the number of bulky orders routed to a single location? Can you optimize routing based on freight carrier availability and pickup time?

Use Case #2 – Fragile items

Just like with bulky items, it’s not just about availability. Fragile items may take longer to package, and require special packaging materials. Can your sourcing logic factor in packaging material availability as well? And can you limit the number of fragile orders routed to a single location? You may also want to restrict which carriers fulfill fragile orders based on their damage record.

Use Case #3 – Fragile and bulky items on a single order

Say you’re a housewares and furniture retailer. Your customer places an order for a couch and some crystal vases. But they can’t all ship in the same order. And possibly not even from the same location, nor be delivered by the same carrier. Why? Bulky items such as furniture might require a specific carrier type, such as a freight carrier. And those crystal vases? Those might require certain boxes and specific packing materials.

Use Case #4 – Hazmat items

Certain items are classified as “hazmat” and must be handled properly and according to certain regulations or standards. Which means a different fulfillment process. Easy if the hazmat item is the only one in the order. But if it’s multi-product order and only one item is considered hazmat, can your sourcing logic identify and provide a separate fulfillment process for that item? And this is more common than you might think. A popular product that’s considered hazmat? Perfume. Another use case? Having a separate fulfillment process for items covered under California Proposition 65, such as those that might contain lead. (Like pipes or similar items)

Use Case #5 – Warm weather flag

Shipping perishables—like chocolates—means you need to keep an eye on the weather to ensure the product arrives to the customer as intended. Can your sourcing logic set a specific temperature threshold that when exceeded, it flags the order as needing additional insulation and/or expedited shipping.

Summary

Advanced sourcing logic requires a modern order management system. There are many considerations when it comes to choosing the right platform for your needs today and beyond. Ensure the platform you choose supports a multi-dimensional fulfillment and sourcing strategy. One that can be tailored to your needs. A flexible platform, like Fluent Order Management, will allow you to hit your business goals now—and in 5 years time. Contact us today to learn more.

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