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Stay Ahead for 2024 Peak: Nimble’s Tips for Scaling Fulfillment

Jan 23, 2024

Peak season may have just ended, but it is never too soon to start preparing for next year. One of the best ways brands can maximize their success during the Black Friday Cyber Monday week and the holiday season is by leveraging autonomous fulfillment and robotics. Traditional 3PLs don’t typically offer automated solutions due to large investments in cap-ex and lack of expertise designing and operating automation systems. Nimble offers a 3PL fulfillment service with their own network of next-gen robotic fulfillment centers and breaks this paradigm by achieving industry-low fulfillment costs without requiring any cap-ex investment from brands.

Nimble has been operating and providing 3PL services in stealth for several years perfecting its AI robotics and automation solutions and gaining extensive experience with established and high growth brands and have honed in the art of scaling to handle massive volume fluctuations during peak cycles. Now, Nimble presents its best practices to help e-commerce brands succeed during peak at low cost while achieving high level of SLA performance. 

1. Reduce Vulnerability to Labor Challenges

The industry is facing all-time highs in labor shortages reaching 490,000 workers, annual labor churn of 150%, and the possibility of completely exhausting the labor pool by 2024. With the ever-increasing demand for labor and less often considered HR intangibles such as the time and cost needed to train teams, managing the ramp-up of the hourly workforce while balancing operating margins can be particularly difficult during peak season. Fulfillment facilities are often required to transition from a 1-shift operation to 2,3 or 4-shift operation in a matter of weeks.

“Labor is the biggest challenge of every peak,” says Saket Chatrath, Director of Operations at Nimble. “With Nimble’s AI robotic technology, brands can confidently rely on the availability of our robotic pickers and packers to fulfill orders with humans focused on higher level supervisory tasks.”

Nimble's proprietary next-gen multi-purpose robots reliably perform all core warehouse functions to store, retrieve, pick, pack and sort orders to meet customer expectations and industry best SLAs. “It’s a no-brainer,” concluded Saket Chatrath. “With robots guaranteed to show up and perform, the future of fulfillment is fully autonomous.”

2. Benefit from Fully Autonomous Fulfillment

Labor scarcity and pressure on margins create challenges for brands or 3PLs who run their fulfillment operation manually. Investing capital in automation equipment and the implementation of sophisticated systems is a time-consuming, high-risk, and capital-intensive endeavor. 

Nimble’s proprietary technology, developed by engineers from NASA, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon over several years of research and production testing with early Brand partners, has already been tested during multiple peak seasons in Nimble Fulfillment Centers and is now broadly available to brands looking for lower cost and higher reliability around SLAs. Brands can avoid tens of millions in capital investments by becoming part of Nimble’s Fulfillment Network, where each warehouse can store six times as much inventory within the same footprint and fulfill orders with 80% less labor.

3. Track Data in Real-Time With Cloud Logistics Platform

Although there will always be variability when it comes to peak season, having an advanced AI Cloud Logistics Platform with best in class warehouse management system (WMS), order management system (OMS), and transportation management system (TMS) is essential to successfully meet SLAs. The best systems are modern web-based platforms that provide real-time tracking with an intuitive and simple user interface. Brands need a WMS that is built for scale and can manage high volumes of orders, especially during peak season. A WMS should also be able to adjust picking and packing procedures dynamically on the fly to maximize efficiency and adjust processes based on continuous updates as changes to orders dropped in the warehouse happen hourly. 

Nimble’s AI Cloud WMS provides real-time tracking and advanced analytics to e-commerce partners and warehouse operators - ensuring that every order is shipped from the warehouse within SLA and that customers are kept happy. 

4. Customer Obsession is Key

During peak, brands need to effectively communicate with their 3PL partners to be hyper-focused on customer satisfaction. “Nimble’s customer-first approach has been the key to peak success,” says Melissa Curry, Nimble’s Vice President of Fulfillment Operations. “Communication and transparency with our partners help everyone stay aligned, from the warehouse operators to brand managers to the customer’s expecting their packages on a certain date. ” 

Having a dedicated customer success team, tracking performance, and gaining immediate feedback from customers can also lead to continuous improvement so that any issues can be addressed as quickly as possible. 

5. Leverage Multi-Node Strategy

During peak and holiday season most transportation carriers reduce their SLAs and shipments often take longer to get delivered. Using a multi-node solution with a diverse arsenal of national and regional carriers can reduce dependency on any single carrier while minimizing transportation costs. A multi-node and multi-carrier strategy ensures deliveries reach customers in 2-3 days, allowing e-commerce brands to extend the “delivered by Christmas” cut-off date right up until a day or two before Christmas eve. 

Nimble’s network of fulfillment centers can reach over 96% of the population in 1-2 days and its advanced analytics can support the challenge of balancing inventory across multiple locations. 

Looking for a new 3PL to achieve these best practices? With over $115 million invested in advanced robotics R&D and production testing with engineers from NASA, GoogleX, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon, Nimble has pioneered and built a 3PL around a next generation robotic system that will serve as the backbone of eCommerce fulfillment for the next 50 years. Schedule a meeting to get started today. 

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