A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Streamlined Ecommerce Logistics
Customer expectations are higher than ever for ecommerce stores. They expect shipping to be fast and free. About 43% of consumers look at shipping costs before buying a product online.
Most large retailers offer some form of free and fast shipping, making it harder for small businesses to compete. Even Etsy, the online store for handmade goods, is asking small business owners to provide free shipping for orders above $35.
Your business has to depend on a top-notch ecommerce logistics strategy to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Read on to discover the top tips to develop the right ecommerce order fulfillment strategy for your business.
Why Ecommerce Logistics Are Important?
You know that ecommerce logistics are part of the reason why customers come back to your business. What are other reasons why ecommerce logistics are important?
Your logistics strategy is a reflection of your brand and your business. A retailer that always has products out of stock is a sign of mismanagement. You lose the trust of your customers, and they’ll know not to go to your business for certain products.
Customers that receive packages that are torn and ripped are more likely to complain about a product. They will try to return the item, impacting your profitability.
Here are a handful of tips to shore up your ecommerce logistics and compete with the big online retailers.
Stock management is a tricky balance for ecommerce retailers. If you carry too much stock, you end up paying much more in warehousing fees. Carry too little stock, you end up running out and losing sales.
Where’s the fine line? You have to look at past sales years to spot the buying trends. You’ll find that there are products that are popular throughout the year and other products that are popular during certain months.
You’ll want to develop your stock management strategy based on these buying trends.
Granted, there are products that no one could predict would run out. Who knew this time last year that there would be a massive buying spree of toilet paper?
You’ll also have to keep an eye out for current and future industry trends. That will help you predict sales and keep the right products in stock.
Have Several Shipping Options
Do you depend on one shipping company for your ecommerce business? Diversification is the name of the game in the shipping business.
You don’t have the resources that Amazon.com does to develop your own shipping logistics company. Yet, if one shipping provider gets overwhelmed or costs too much, you have to be able to pivot to meet demand.
Work with multiple shipping providers. You may have extra negotiating power if your business does enough volume to get the best shipping rates.
Multiple shipping options empower your customers, too. They get to choose if they want to pay more for fast shipping, or if they are fine with free shipping that takes a little longer.
Have a Clear Return and Exchange Policy
You have to ensure that your customers understand what your return process is before they buy. That is another way to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Is it easy for customers to return packages to your business? Will they be credited or can they only exchange items? Who pays for return shipping?
These are all questions that you need to answer in a clear and concise way. You don’t want to lose customers because you didn’t set clear expectations.
Use Custom Packaging
Your product packaging and shipping containers are a part of the customer experience.
Custom manufacturer boxes give you the ability to show your company’s values and brand. Using manufacturer boxes can cut down on your shipping and packaging costs, which you can pass on to customers.
These boxes also make customers feel good about their purchase because they value the environment. They want to make choices that support sustainable businesses.
Ecommerce Logistics During COVID-19
COVID-19 turned the retail industry on its head. More people shop online than ever before, and shipping supply chains are under immense pressure to meet these demands.
It’s the perfect storm of events. A huge increase in shipping volume, high customer expectations, and a reduction in staff to maintain safety measures turn into long waiting times for customers.
Plus, there are changing priorities for shipping companies.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout changes shipping logistics. Plus, these vaccines need refrigerated shipping. They obviously take priority over your orders for everyday products.
Your number one job is to manage customer expectations during the purchasing process. You have to be in constant communication with customers before and after they purchase a product.
Have a couple of ribbons at the top of your website to inform customers that there are possible shipping delays. Once the customer purchases a product, email them with expected delivery times.
You should also keep them up to speed throughout the shipping process. Send them a text when the product is picked up by the shipping company, when it’s going to be delivered, and after it’s delivered.
This strategy manages customer expectations and cuts down on “where’s my package?” calls to customer service.
Ecommerce Logistics Tips to Have a Thriving Business
There is a huge opportunity to build a thriving ecommerce business, especially as more people avoid going to retail stores. At the same time, the environment is incredibly competitive, and you have to meet customer expectations at every level.
Ecommerce logistics help your business excel in this challenging time. You have to be able to set an ecommerce logistics strategy that meets customer expectations.
For more great business insights, head over to the Business Technology section of this site.