Order Fulfilment for Outdoor Products: An Ultimate Guide

1/12/2024

Order Fulfilment for Outdoor Products: An Ultimate Guide

Outdoor products are gaining significant popularity around the world. People love engaging with nature. And they need the right outdoor equipment for their passion. Ecommerce brands selling outdoor products need order fulfilment solutions for rapid delivery of outdoor gear to their customers.  People do not want to wait to explore nature.

Overview of the Outdoor Products Ecommerce Market

The global market for outdoor gear and equipment stood at $53.13 billion in 2022. It is expected to reach $81.63 billion by 2030. The market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 6.3% globally.

The market valuation for outdoor products in Australia reached $631.37 million in 2022. And it is expected to touch $959.30 million by 2027—growing at a CAGR of 10.39%.

This is higher than the global average. It shows the growing passion for outdoor hobbies and recreational activities in Australia. 

The above data shows the online purchase behaviour of Australians for outdoor equipment. Only 26% of Australians buy directly from a retailer online. The majority of customers purchase outdoor gear from online marketplaces. These include Amazon, eBay, Catch, Kogan, and others.

Australian retailers and eCommerce brands need to keep up with the value offerings of the marketplaces. As the demand for outdoor equipment grows, Australian eCommerce brands need to streamline their operations to attract and retain customers. Fast order fulfilment for outdoor products is an essential part of the retail customer experience.

The majority of online purchase drivers for Australian consumers revolve around the speed and cost of shipping. Free delivery has the highest influence on purchase decisions. While offerings like easy returns, next-day shipping, and click & collect are among the top ten factors.

This shows the impact of order fulfilment for retailers and eCommerce brands selling outdoor equipment and gear. In this article, we will understand order fulfilment for outdoor products. We will look at the factors that affect outdoor equipment shipping. And look at different strategies that you can use to fulfil orders for outdoor equipment.

But before we dive into the order fulfilment part, let’s cover some basics.

What are Outdoor Products?

Outdoor products include a variety of items used for fitness, hobbies, adventure, and recreational activities. As the name suggests, these products are meant to be used outdoors. The category includes gear and equipment for hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, water sports, mountain climbing, fitness sports, and so on.

These activities require special outdoor equipment and gear. Each activity may include a wide range of products. Let’s say you want to go hiking. You will need a lot of hiking equipment such as apparel, shoes, tent, bags, sleeping bags, etc.

Outdoor products can be divided into the following categories:

Many outdoor products also fall into fashion categories. However, these items are designed for specific activities. While aesthetics are important, the main purpose is utility. For instance, outdoor gear for water sports is waterproof. On the other hand, outdoor equipment for mountain climbing is meant to be robust and resilient.

Let’s see how these differences affect order fulfilment for outdoor products.

3 Things to Consider to Fulfil Orders of Outdoor Products

Outdoor products come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Hence, it is difficult to keep a uniform fulfilment process for all these products. You will need variations for outdoor equipment shipping and outdoor gear fulfilment. Let’s see how order fulfilment for outdoor products differs from other products.

1. Size & Weight

Outdoor products are usually larger and heavier than other products. You can see the difference in similar categories. The average weight of sneakers is 0.3 kg. While the average weight of hiking shoes is 0.6 kg. That's double the weight of sneakers. Some heavy-duty trekking shoes may also weigh up to 1 kg.

You can see similar differences in size as well. Outdoor equipment and gear are generally bulkier. This is often due to tough and resistant material. Many sporting goods also include padding. This too adds to the size and weight of the products. These additions are necessary for the special utility of the products.

The size and weight factors are even more pronounced when it comes to outdoor equipment fulfilment. For example, a kayak can weigh up to 40 kgs. Such products fall under the category of shipping large goods. This also applies to order fulfilment for sporting goods such as training equipment, goal posts, ping-pong tables, etc.

Size and weight are crucial factors for order fulfilment of outdoor products. They have an impact on several factors concerning outdoor equipment shipping. These factors can raise the cost of packing, storage, and transportation.

Larger items require larger packing. As the goods are heavy, the packing material also needs to be sturdy. Sizable and heavy packing further increases the weight of the shipment. They also take up considerable storage space. Owing to these factors, outdoor gear eCommerce fulfilment is costlier than other products.

2. Shape & Frailty

This factor does not apply to outdoor products in the apparel, shoes, and backpacks category. However, many outdoor equipment and gear are quite unusually shaped. This is true for both small and large equipment. Take for instance equipment like goalposts, kayaks, mountain bikes, fishing poles, skiing gear, etc.

You cannot use regular courier boxes to pack outdoor products for order fulfilment. These items need special packing for safe shipping. You also cannot use the same packing format for packing different outdoor products. Even if they are for the same activity.

For example, you will need a long box for packing a fishing rod and a square one for tackle bags. So you will be using two boxes for fishing equipment shipping. Even if you are delivering to the same customer.

Furthermore, you also need to protect the outdoor equipment during shipping. So you will need to put padding in the box. Or you will have to use cushioning material to protect the gear.

Owing to the unusual shape, outdoor equipment and gears are also prone to damage. While the majority of these items are built for rough use. They may have certain corners or edges that can get damaged during shipping. This can be due to minor shocks or jerks.

Outdoor equipment and gear may also include several small parts. These parts may not be as sturdy as the larger equipment. Some outdoor equipment also includes electronic parts. You need to be extremely careful when shipping such fragile items. In such cases, outdoor equipment shipping may involve a set of packages.

All these factors increase the size and weight of the shipment. Consequently, it also increases the cost of order fulfilment for outdoor products.

3. Taxes, Compliances, and Regulations 

If you are shipping outdoor equipment internationally, you will have to go through several stages of customs clearance. The equipment may need a variety of documentation. Furthermore, they may also require special packaging to clear customs in different countries.

You also need to check the regulations of the exporting and importing countries. Outdoor equipment covers a wide range of items. Some of them may be restricted or regulated in certain countries. 

You also need to check the compliance requirements for the materials and constituent parts of the outdoor equipment and gears. These compliances govern the trade, transport, and sales of certain outdoor equipment in a country.

You will also need additional certifications if you need to ship hazmats to fulfil orders of outdoor equipment. These laws would be applicable to certain parts of outdoor equipment such as aerosol cans, hydraulic fluids, batteries, etc. Such outdoor equipment shipping requires special permits. Such products also have specific packaging and handling requirements.

Many such regulations also apply to domestic outdoor equipment fulfilment. You need to check the applicable taxes and regulations for the products and their components. An oversight in this aspect may lead to the seizure of goods during shipping. It may also result in penalties for the shipper and your company.

Owing to these reasons, outdoor equipment shipping often involves special packing and handling. You may also incur additional costs for compliance management, customs fees, taxes, documentation, permits, and so on. All of these add to the cost of outdoor equipment fulfilment.

Ecommerce Order Fulfilment Strategies for Outdoor Products

Ecommerce order fulfilment strategies fall under three categories. These depend on the party carrying out the fulfilment. Let’s understand how these strategies work for outdoor products.

Merchant Fulfilment

In this strategy, the merchant fulfils orders on behalf of the brand. A customer places an order for your products through an online marketplace. The marketplace acts as a merchant. You can ship the inventory to the merchant. Then the merchant uses the stored inventory to fulfil orders of outdoor equipment.

In-house Fulfilment

In this strategy, the brand takes responsibility for order fulfilment. The brand ships the products to the customers regardless of the point of sale. The eCommerce brand would need several resources to fulfil orders for outdoor equipment. These include storage facilities, inventory management systems, packing facilities, labour, and transportation resources. 

3PL Fulfilment

In this strategy, an eCommerce brand hires a logistics company to carry out the fulfilment. The logistics company handles the brand’s inventory. They distribute the inventory to warehouses and fulfilment centres. Then when a customer places an order, the 3PL company ships the products from the fulfilment centre.

Aside from these three strategies, you can also adopt a hybrid approach. You can use merchant fulfilment for orders placed on marketplaces. And use the 3PL solution for orders placed on your website.

5 Tips to Improve Order Fulfilment for Outdoor Products

Order fulfilment for outdoor products is slightly different. This is because of the size, shape, and weight of the products. However, you can use a few strategies to reduce shipping costs for outdoor equipment fulfilment. 

Here are a few tips to help you optimise your order fulfilment strategy.

1. Pack Outdoor Products Efficiently

The size and weight of a package has a significant impact on the cost of shipping. It will be relatively cheaper for you to fulfil orders of outdoor equipment if you can control these two factors. 

You should not try to cut down packaging at the expense of aesthetic appeal or protection. At the same time, you should not go overboard with packing. The packing for outdoor equipment shipping should be done in the context of order fulfilment.

You can define packing standards based on shipping distance. You only need functional packing for local couriers. While domestic order fulfilment may require more robust packing. If you are shipping outdoor products internationally, then you can use the same packing as domestic and add an additional layer for protection.

2. Reduce the Package Size

You can also reduce the size of the courier by using compact packaging. Unnecessary space increases the size of the package, and thereby, the cost of order fulfilment for outdoor products. Try to pack the products as tightly as possible. You can use sturdy material or cushioning for protection. Tight packing also ensures minimum movement within the package. This can further prevent damage to the outdoor equipment during shipping.

You also need to consider the shape of the package for efficient order fulfilment. You should stick to standard packing formats to ship your products. For instance, you can use courier satchels for shipping hiking equipment like jackets, bags, apparel, and so on.

Unusually shaped packages may cost you more to ship. Such packages are also more prone to damage. If you are unsure about the packaging, you can assign this task to the carrier. Many logistics companies offer professional packing services. If you have to frequently ship such outdoor gear for eCommerce fulfilment, you can include packing as part of the deal with the 3PL.

3. Create Product Kits

Many outdoor equipment come in several parts. Instead of packing each part separately, you can pack the entire kit in one package. The final package will be larger and heavier. But, it will still cost less than individual outdoor equipment shipping.

For example, a set of skiing equipment includes several items. The set would have skis, gloves, head gear, ski-boots, poles, etc. If you pack them all separately, you will be shipping five boxes. But, if you pack them together, you will only be shipping one package.

This kind of arrangement helps you reduce the shipping cost. You reduce the weight of additional boxes and padding. You will only pay for a single package. Furthermore, multiple packages are more likely to get lost or damaged during shipping.

Outdoor products are designed for a specific purpose. If you are selling multiple outdoor gear and equipment concerning the same activity, you can create kits. These kits would include products that one would use together. Clubbing relevant products to create a kit also helps you raise your average order value. You can sell more outdoor equipment and gear as a set.

4. Optimise Logistics and Distribution Strategy

The speed and cost to fulfil orders of outdoor equipment depends on your distribution strategy. The distance between the inventory and the customer influences both these factors. You can significantly improve the overall outdoor equipment fulfilment by optimising the logistics strategy.

You should consider the factors that affect the time and cost of outdoor equipment shipping. These include weight, size, distance, mode of transport, etc. You can reduce the overall cost of outdoor gear eCommerce fulfilment by shipping in bulk. 

You can send larger consignments to a warehouse in a target market. This strategy will give discounts based on volume. Then you can individually fulfil orders of outdoor equipment from this warehouse. You can also use strategies like micro-fulfilment for outdoor equipment shipping. 

The key is optimum logistics strategy is to transport maximum distance in bulk. This means you reduce the shipping distance for last-mile delivery. This in turn reduces the overall cost and speed of shipping. Such a strategy also reduces the likelihood of shipping damages.

5. Offer Different Fulfilment Options

Last-mile delivery is the costliest part of outdoor gear fulfilment. On average, last-mile delivery accounts for about 53% of the overall shipping expenses. This stage utilises the most resources per unit. You control these expenses by providing alternate fulfilment options. These include self-fulfilment, click-and-collect, and store pickup. These options allow customers to purchase outdoor equipment online. But, they can collect the products from a micro-fulfilment centre or retail outlet.

These options are cheaper compared to traditional methods to fulfil orders of outdoor equipment. You save the cost of last-mile delivery. In turn, you can offer cheaper shipping and even free shipping to customers in certain regions.

Optimise Logistics to Improve Order Fulfilment for Outdoor Products

Outdoor products are not the easiest to ship. However, eCommerce brands need to cater to customer demand. You can optimise the order fulfilment for outdoor products by improving different aspects of logistics and distribution.

You can also choose an eCommerce order fulfilment solution to ship your outdoor products. PACK & SEND can integrate with several point-of-sale systems including your brand’s website and marketplaces. 

We can also handle other logistics aspects concerning order fulfilment. These include warehousing, inventory management, packing, and shipping. PACK & SEND can also facilitate customs clearance and international shipping to serve your customers abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is outdoor equipment fulfilment?

Outdoor equipment fulfilment refers to the shipping of outdoor products to eCommerce customers. It involves several logistics processes including warehousing, inventory management, packing, shipping, and last-mile delivery.

How is outdoor equipment fulfilment is different from other product fulfilment?

Outdoor equipment fulfilment is different from other products' fulfilment because of the size, weight, and shape of the products. These products need to be packed and handled differently during shipping. Owing to the attributes of the products, it is difficult and costly to ship outdoor equipment.

Is fulfilment for outdoor equipment costly?

Fulfilment for outdoor equipment is costlier compared to other products. This is because of the size, shape, and weight of the products. Owing to these attributes, shipping outdoor equipment is costly.

Which companies do outdoor equipment fulfilment in Australia?

PACK & SEND can efficiently carry out outdoor equipment fulfilment in Australia and internationally. Our widespread logistics network can help you ship outdoor equipment and gear to your products anywhere in Australia and other countries.

 

Image sources: Statista, Slideshare

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