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3PL's results hint at change in buying patterns

3PL's results hint at change in buying patterns

Supply chain solutions specialist, Walker Logistics, has announced that during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015 the number of individual product units dispatched on behalf of the various clients that it serves from its Berkshire-based fulfillment centre was up 89% on the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of customer orders fulfilled by Walker during Q4 2015 rose by 5.6%.

William Walker, the company’s sales and marketing director, believes the disparity between the percentage increase in orders processed and units picked reflects a growing willingness among retailers to order products in ever larger quantities.

“Traditionally, our B2B customers have received their biggest orders from their retailer clients in late Q3, early Q4, but this year retailers kept ordering in large quantities well in to Q4 and almost right up to Christmas,” he says.

“For example, a cosmetics firm for whom we supply storage, pick, pack and dispatch services, usually receives an order for around 300 pieces at a time from Amazon, but this year Amazon ordered 3,500 units at a time. And this was far from unique."

If the move by retailers towards placing fewer but larger orders for non-food products experienced by Walker Logistics in Q4 last year is part of a sustained trend that is replicated across the industry throughout the coming year, it will, William Walker believes, force many 3PL service operators to review their operational processes.

“3PLs will need to set aside greater space in their warehouses for stock holding, while more staff will be required to undertake picking activities.

“It will be interesting if the same kind of disparity between the percentage of orders taken and units dispatched occurs in the first quarter of 2016.”

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