Up to 40% of transportation costs can occur during last-mile delivery; therefore, companies in the e-commerce space should thoroughly weigh options when deciding on fulfillment strategies.
Undoubtedly, there has been a consumer shift to doorstep delivery thanks to the effects of the global pandemic, and this new consumer behavior is sure to long outlast COVID-19 thanks to the convenience of online shopping. However, e-commerce was catching metaphorical fire with consumers before the pandemic. In fact, the e-commerce industry experienced double-digit growth year-on-year, pushing some companies to embrace the shipping method ahead of the curve as early as 2017.
While many companies are realizing that the shift to e-commerce is a chance at substantial growth, others are realizing that if they do not make the shift, they will not survive current or future market conditions.
Thankfully, companies do not have to take on the responsibility of e-commerce on their own. With the right distribution partner and e-commerce strategy, companies will be able to flourish in the future of consumerism.
However, the key to any successful e-commerce operation is embracing technology.
E-Commerce Delivery Strategy
Keeping delivery promises and building loyalty with customers should be easy. The right distribution partner will offer an integrated solution with e-commerce shipping software. The right delivery strategy utilizing e-commerce shipping software should incorporate:
- Flexible and personalized delivery options with guaranteed delivery dates
- Reduced customer online cart abandonment
- Delivery options like free shipping, expedited shipping, store pick-up and collection points
- Customer enablement to consolidate purchases for later delivery dates and encourage repeat business
- Allow for reroutes for deliveries prior to dispatch
- Minimal packaging options to support sustainability, reduce waste and save money
Another integral part of the consumer shift is the expectation of complete visibility and traceability. With real-time, fully branded, store-to-door tracking intelligence, customers have confidence in their delivery thanks to updates sent straight to their mobile devices and email alerts for delivery times.
Other real-time tracking benefits include:
- Proactively reroute around weather events and unforeseen circumstances
- Increased consumer loyalty through guaranteed delivery dates
- Harmonize thousands of updates from multiple carriers into clear customer messages
The right distribution partner will also have returns covered. With e-commerce returns software, customers and companies alike can experience seamless domestic and international returns. E-commerce returns benefits should always involve:
- Customizable return options like pick-up for high value goods, drop-off point, in-store returns and multi carrier returns
- Leverage local carriers for returns
- Include return labels to encourage customers to use preferred carriers and services to reduce costs
The right partner will also have localized solutions — specifically, a global multilingual e-commerce solution. Regardless of where a customer is shopping in the world, their browsing should reflect local currency and language, reducing cart abandonment. Carrier labels and shipping documents should also reflect relevant languages and formats to ensure on time deliveries. Additionally, the right e-commerce software solution will protect companies from any fraudulent transactions. This can be achieved by:
- Identifying known and suspected criminals by screening watchlists
- Preventing carrier surcharges and theft through address verification
- Mitigating the risk of sanctions violations through validation of destination country and customer
- Automatically identifying potential fraud prior to shipments
Any successful e-commerce delivery strategy will be full of technological advancements to turn first time customers into life long advocates.
E-Commerce Distribution Strategy
The right partner will have a robust multi-carrier network. Not only does this offer the advantage of carrier rate shopping for the lowest cost of shipment, the network should include global, domestic, regional, white glove, specialty carriers and even city couriers.
Shipping out of the warehouse or distribution center (DC) should be fast and cost effective. Meeting customer demands for fast e-commerce delivery can be achieved by optimizing performance with a scalable, high-speed throughput e-commerce shipping solution. The right e-commerce shipping partner will offer reduced cost and enhanced performance by providing access to advanced routing guides, standardized shipping across all locations, automatically generated necessary delivery documents, and seamless integration with pre existing systems like WMS and ERP. Like the delivery strategy, the distribution strategy should also provide complete traceability, fraudulent protections and 24/7 support.
E-Commerce Omnichannel Strategy
Flexible omnichannel shipping software allows companies to get closer to online customers by transforming any brick and mortar business into a distribution center. When customers shop online, businesses must ensure that they have access to a variety of carriers with standardized shipping processes for seamless and cost effective deliveries. Whether shipping from a DC, store, logistics provider, or manufacturer, omnichannel e-commerce software ensures:
- Same-day delivery options for in-stock items
- Effortless in-store returns
- Automated freight bill auditing
- Carrier rate shopping
- Risk and external fraud mitigation
Ultimately, a B2C e-commerce business model has to embrace technology. Whether it be delivery, distribution, or omnichannel e-commerce, companies must not only adapt but prepare for current and future market conditions. Market trends indicate that e-commerce and online shopping are sticking around for good, and business strategies should reflect the consumer shift. By embracing e-commerce technology solutions, companies can have peace of mind and build a loyal consumer base.
Lynne Roof is the product marketing director at QAD Precision.