Although e-commerce makes up 10 percent of overall retail sales, its value in the modern economy must not be underestimated. There has been much discussion about the retail apocalypse, and retailers a crown the globe are clamoring about how they can achieve success and avoid this imminent doom. The answer lies in developing omnichannel experiences for customers, unifying the online and brick-and-mortar experience into a seamless shopping journey. Unfortunately, shippers may overlook the biggest obstacle to omnichannel, developing effective e-commerce shipping practices. To avoid the retail apocalypse and achieve omnichannel success, shippers need to understand the challenges of e-commerce shipping, how it contributes to omnichannel success and a few tips to succeed in it.
E-Commerce Shipping Comes With Unique Challenges
As explained by SPS Commerce.com, shippers may lack the physical resources, read “warehousing space,” necessary to handle e-commerce shipping. Shippers will also face an uphill battle in managing the higher rate of returns through e-commerce sales. According to Stacey Rudolph of Business2Community, e-commerce shipping is complicated with an average return rate of 30 percent. Meanwhile, 49 percent of shippers now offer free return shipping, so managing a returns process with minimal costs is essential to maintaining profitability. Shippers that fail to consider the implications of returns by refusing to give customers information about returns costs and procedures before purchase could risk alienating up to 67 percent of shoppers.
In addition, shippers may lack the resources necessary to push operations beyond availability and reliability of procurement. As a result, manufacturers may choose to work with other resellers. Even transferring the burden of e-commerce shipping to small packages or outsourcing to a major carrier may not necessarily work, asserts Patrick Burnson. Major carriers using air shipping may have priority shipping over other smaller carriers, creating delays in the once-perceived fastest means of shipping. As a result, shippers need to think beyond air shipping in developing a successful e-commerce shipping strategy.
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E-Commerce Shipping Mastery Leads to Omnichannel Success
Omnichannel success depends on the ability to move orders from brick-and-mortar stores, online shopping platforms, social media, shopping, TV advertising, and traditional phone orders. According to Apparatus, an effective e-commerce shipping solutions builds the framework necessary for full integration and implementation of an omnichannel supply chain strategy. Ultimately, building a connection between all parts of the supply chain is essential to e-commerce, and therefore, it’s essential to omnichannel success. Shippers should work to integrate existing systems, leveraging software as a service (SaaS), and in e-commerce-ready transportation management system (TMS), such as the new e-commerce services offered by Cerasis.
How to Excel at E-Commerce Shipping and Supply Chain Management
E-commerce shipping and supply chain management must consider the unique needs of e-commerce shoppers, which range from speedy delivery to combining multi-product orders into a single shipment from multiple locations. To overcome the challenges in e-commerce shipping, explains Shopify, shippers should:
- Connect warehouses and supply chain management systems.
- Offer free, fast shipping when appropriate.
- Balance value-added services with business goals.
- Regionalize inventory.
- Use technology to get the best rates.
- Focus on core values.
- Select a proven e-commerce logistics partner.
- Ensure quality and accuracy in e-commerce orders.
- Use connected devices to track shipments in real time.
- Keep customers informed.
The Big Picture
Demand for omnichannel customer experiences has increased dramatically. Customers want to review a product online, visit the store to feel the texture of the product, complete a purchase online and have it shipped to their sister’s aunt’s cousin’s house. Yes, it is complex, and omnichannel customer experiences are redefining the levels of customer service.
For shippers, implementing omnichannel supply chain strategies is the end goal, but they must learn to walk before they run. In other words, shippers must first master e-commerce shipping and supply chain management before attempting to develop a robust omnichannel experience. However, some companies with the right resources and tools have the potential to develop e-commerce strategies in conjunction with omnichannel plans. So, what is your organization waiting for?