2020 has been a year like no other. With the global pandemic wreaking havoc in every corner of the globe, we’ve all been forced to adjust the way we live, work and socialize.
One of the most significant impacts has been on the retail sector, with consumers fleeing to shopping online instead of in physical stores due to restrictions. As a result, the eCommerce sector has witnessed exponential surges in demand, particularly in the lead up to the holiday season.
For those operating in the online shopping arena, it’s essential to ready your business for this increase in demand, which is likely to remain even after the global pandemic. An important part of this is ensuring you have a logical and efficient shipping strategy in place that’s capable of upscaling as and when your customers demand it.
That’s why in today’s post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the next steps eCommerce businesses can take when it comes to managing their shipping capabilities to ensure they’re able to meet a surge in order quantities head-on.
1. Put logistics first
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to keep their shipping and logistics in house during the early stages. However, there could be merit in outsourcing this integral part as you look to expand and grow your enterprise.
For one, it can save you money on shipping rates, as well as open up more opportunities to expand into new markets. Secondly, taking this operational function out of your business can also free up valuable resources to focus on other integral aspects of your business.
Finding the right outsourcing company which can meet the needs of your eCommerce business in terms of capabilities and cost is essential to ensuring the organization and implementation of your logistics. Not only that, the company needs to be able to meet and exceed the demands of your business as you grow if it’s going to be a long-term partnership.
Focus on customer experience
This is where having a sound understanding of exactly what your business’s needs are is vital. To do this, envision the customer fulfillment and delivery experience that you want your customers to have. Ultimately, you want them to be satisfied with their shopping experience, which includes the all-important last-mile delivery.
The next step is to communicate your needs to the providers you’re considering to make sure they’re able to fulfill them. Involving your company’s order fulfillment department in this process as early as possible will help eliminate issues later down the line and make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to providing an efficient service.
Within your decision-making process, you may also want to consider the environmental implications associated with your logistic provider, particularly if your brand is aligned with an ethical ethos. From carbon emissions to optimizing load capacities, factoring in your company’s environmental responsibilities will be key to ensuring you’re doing your bit for the planet.
2. Ensure efficient communication
One of the fundamental principles of shipping management is efficient communication. This may sound simple in theory, but it’s quite common for delivery issues to arrive as a result of an underlying communication breakdown.
Implementing a functional communication system that enables contact with all necessary parties is key to streamlining operations. From order processing to last-mile shipping, each and every stage of the order fulfillment process needs to be transparent. This should eliminate the likelihood of wasted time and miscommunications that can have a negative impact on the efficiency of your shipping processes and the consumer experience.
Efficient communication isn’t just about internal comms. If you’re choosing to outsource your shipping, communication needs to be strong and clear between your eCommerce business and the shipping company. This will ensure orders are delivered on time and, ultimately, customers are left happy with their purchase. As these operations are not internal, it’s important that all efforts are made to ensure communication is consistent.
Within this process, don’t forget about communicating with your customers, too. Implementing an effective system that informs shoppers of the status of their order can go a long way in leaving them with a positive experience. Whether you choose to keep this in-house or enlist the help of your shipping provider, keeping customers well-informed is key to better managing their expectations.
3. Manage your inventory
Optimizing your stock control system could have more benefits than you first anticipated. For one, ensuring storage areas are organized and streamlined with versatile shelving systems and a logical layout will make order picking and inventory management more efficient, especially as demand increases.
You can also take this one step further, introducing a digital stock control system that allows you to communicate efficiently with customers and outsourced shipping systems, while also keeping on top of customer demand.
This information is not only easier to retrieve on computerized systems, but also quicker to communicate, allowing you real-time views on stock levels. This isn’t just helpful on a ground level by providing you with instant data on stock availability — it can also help you monitor buying trends and stay on top of stock replenishment in the long run.
With the ability to quickly obtain stock valuations or find out how well a particular item is moving, you can analyze and transfer this information within seconds. You can then easily transfer this information to your internal or outsourced shipping team which picks, packs, and ships your products. This real-time data works to vastly improve the performance of your business as a whole, particularly when it comes to the productivity of warehouse and shipping processes.
With the dawn of a new year on the horizon, now could be the perfect time to reevaluate your shipping capabilities, ensuring your business is fully equipped for whatever next year brings in terms of increased demand.
By prioritizing a focus on setting up a robust logistics system, fine-tuning communications, and getting a better handle on inventory management, you’ll be well on your way to creating a versatile supply chain that can expand as your business grows.
It goes without saying that upscaling your shipping doesn’t happen overnight though, so in terms of the first steps to take, start by evaluating your business’s current shipping processes and capabilities, highlighting particular strengths and weaknesses.
From here, you can then outline defined goals for each aspect with a logical strategy for upscaling these areas over the coming months and years. The key is to remember that all these facets are intrinsically linked, but some areas may need more focus than others depending on how you currently operate.
Whatever approach you decide, we hope the above tips will stand you in good stead for upscaling your business, leaving you with an efficient, streamlined, and practical shipping system which meets the unique demands of your business.