A lot has changed between commerce and ecommerce. Digitalization may have transformed every aspect of the business but one – logistics.
There is no way to digitally deliver a physical product from one place to another. Your customers won’t come in to pick their parcels from your place; you will have to deliver to their doors. This means that there is an additional link in the entire logistics chain.
Logistics can make or break any online businesses. Customers are getting more particular about delivery time and features such as tracking. It can compromise the entire customer experience, and they may choose a competitor with better logistics next time.
You need to pay special attention to logistics and go the extra mile to ensure effective handling. Today, we will share six tips that can help you handle logistics efficiently for your online business.
1) Keep an Eye on Your Stock
Imagine you have a retail leather jacket store. For a brick and mortar store, the sales process is fairly simple.
- Customers walk in the store.
- They search for a product they would like.
- They only see what is in the stock.
- They pick the one that best suits their preference.
- They buy it and leave.
Now, if you have an online leather jacket store:
- Customers browse your online catalogue.
- Pick the product they want.
- Order it.
- Wait for the delivery.
But when your warehouse staff receives the order, they can't find the product ordered by the customer. Alas! It has been sold out.
Informing your customers that you have run out of the product they have ordered is a huge blow to any online business. Therefore, you need to ensure proper warehouse management to avoid such incidents.
2) Have Back Up Plans
Just like the previous example, unfortunate events can hit you when least expected. Despite your best planning, you may not be able to completely avoid emergencies. Therefore, you should have contingencies. Think of all the things that can go wrong and make a backup plan for all the worst case scenarios.
From running out of stock to any fleet related incident during stock replenishment, be prepared to put out fires as soon as possible. Train your team to immediately take over and commence the contingency plan before the incident affects your customers.
The goal is to keep customers completely unaware of anything that goes wrong in between the process. They must receive their parcel on time just the way they wanted.
Setting safety stock is also an effective way to make sure you don't experience stockouts.
3) Your Packaging Matters
Think about it; your customers can visit your shop and be impressed by all the décor. That is something where brick and mortar stores do hold an advantage. For an online business, it all boils down to product and packaging.
Packaging serves two purposes for an online business: It saves the item from damage, and it can represent your brand. So, while you are using the best packaging material and techniques, do not forget the aesthetics.
Invest in branding. Hire professional logo design services and give your online business a face. Make sure the packaging represents your brand in the most impressive way possible. It should reflect everything your brand stands for including quality, professionalism, and perfectionism.
Lastly, you want to make sure that you're striking a balance between eye-catching and cost-effective packaging.
4) Track and Notify Your Customers Every Step of the Way
Logistics for an online business is all about customer experience. Customer needs and expectations are the driving forces in the industry. They want to be a part of the process without being bothered. For businesses, this is a dilemma. The best way to keep them involved without annoying them is to keep them informed about their package.
Send them a notification for all the key milestones. Tell them when the package is picked, shipped on its way, about to arrive, etc. You can use an app to let them track their package in real time. This will let them know how agile and active you are as a business.
By keeping them informed, you can deliver an excellent customer experience.
5) Invest in Automation
A lot of your logistics related concerns can be resolved by warehouse automation. Automation is what allows Amazon to deliver 1,600,000 packages in a day. Automation can really give you an edge over your competitors.
You can use an integrated logistics automation system to connect all your departments. It can be integrated with your warehouse management system to eliminate the problems we discussed above. The product will be marked as “Out of Stock’ the moment the last piece is ordered online. There will be no need to update the stock manually.
Automated systems can also generate invoice and receipts. They can send you and your customer's notifications throughout the process. From a business owner point of view, it saves you from worrying about mismanagement or fraud by your employees.
6) Consider Working with a Third-Party Logistics Provider (3PL)
If you want to run a successful business, you need to find 3PL partners who can help you optimize your business functions. You need an expert to take care of the logistics while you focus on your core activities and process.
While it may sound like an expense, but it will save you a lot of time as well as trouble. With an expert team managing all the processes, the chances of things going south are almost none. They have better technology, qualified team, and an efficient fleet to ensure a quick and hassle-free process from packaging to delivery.
Many logistics companies offer different packages for different kind of businesses. While you can opt for the most basic one, you are always free to expand your wings knowing that you have a partner who can cater to your growing needs. You can even ship internationally when you are finally ready to expand your outreach.
Logistics is the Backbone of Your Ecommerce Business
To say that logistics is key to building a successful online business is not an exaggeration. Before your product is finally in your customer’s hand, logistics is all that connects you two. Bad logistics management can cause frustration at both ends. It can, without a speck of exaggeration, break your business. Keep the aforementioned tips in mind to ensure the best customer experience.
Written by Ashley Rosa
Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. Writing is her passion. That's why she loves to write articles related to the latest trends in technology and, sometimes, on health-tech as well. She is crazy about chocolates. You can find her at twitter: @ashrosa2.