The e-commerce market is a HUGE one.
In 2015, e-commerce fulfillment reached 1.55 trillion US dollars. Attracting customers and maintaining a consistent flow of sales takes a bit of strategy and a ton of research.
Imagine this: 44 percent of online product searches aren’t happening on Google but on Amazon. Meaning, if your company doesn’t have a presence on Amazon, or if your products aren’t set up to be a part of Amazon’s search engine, you’re missing out on so much potential revenue.
That’s why it is so important to master e-commerce fulfillment.
As problems arise, it’s best to deal with them as soon as possible. It’s what will save you and your business in the long run.
Here’s a common situation:
You solve one of your current e-commerce fulfillment challenges and then suddenly, two more appear the very next week. You discover a way to stabilize labor but then the next month a shortage occurs.
Add to the fact that your brand is competing with a digital economy where the convenience of same-day shipping has become the norm. Distribution centers are then asked to be innovative quicker and quicker the more your orders are coming in.
Therefore, it’s only right that you reshape the definition of a modern distribution center by accomplishing the types of change your brand will need to deliver excellent results.
Here are a few of the biggest e-commerce fulfillment problems and how you can prevent them from happening to you.
Focus on Fulfillment
Of course you want to introduce the world to amazing new products – that’s a common goal for all businesses.
Just don’t make promises that you cannot keep.
Only make the promises that you and your company are sure to hold up. Fulfilling your customers needs with the products they desire is crucial. And you must be prepared for the unexpected.
Prepare for issues with manufacturing.
“Omnichannel” or multi-channel fulfillment includes drop shipping, ship-to-store and other things that continue to reshape the rules of accountability.
How will the packaging be handled? Who will pay for any damage to the product? Who owns that last mile of delivery to the customer?
You should always begin with something simple that your company can definitely and properly produce. Once successful, you can always later test and see if you can add new features as well as newer and better products.
Control Your Shipping
Shipping can be a complicated matter, but it doesn’t always have to be.
As rates continue to rise in this market for shipping your products, you will need to consider how your supplies are being packaged. Warehousing demands detail.
Consider shrinking the size of packages (if possible) without sacrificing the protection of the items or the ultimate consumer satisfaction.
Also, figure out how you can use crowdfunding to support your brand. Using crowdfunding platforms can help with things like international shipping costs.
International marketplaces do not need to be a struggle. Do your research on reward fulfillment companies such as Backerfit or Fulfillrite and other e-commerce services like Amazon Global for more options.
At the end of the day, multi-channel fulfillment can truly benefit you. However, you can curb a lot of costs through proper research.
Understand Postage Costs
Another complex measure is postage costs. Marketplace selling means you need to consider where your target market is and if you want to include international shipping to your plan.
Consider the costs that go into packaging and shipping. Round estimates if you’re unsure. Ensure that you don’t run short on your budget or on your fulfillment.
Find out how much your packaging is going to cost by using multiple tools.
Be prepared for returned items.
Returned products aren’t likely to be 100% recoverable as new condition products.
Don’t wait until the very last minute to process your returns.
Sometimes a seller will wait until returns accumulate, then just handle them towards the end of the week or the end of the month. This is something that can cause financial loss because of high return rates, etc.
Track the recovery rate of each SKU and which products are most likely to be returned damaged by customers.
Through doing this, you will better identify which products you need to remove from your active catalog. You will also identify which products and brands you may need to negotiate a returns allowance with your suppliers.
Prepare for High Demands
If after launching your products, your company goes viral (YAY) but your manufacturer can’t handle the demand (Uh-Oh..) you will need to brace yourself.
That’s under the assumption that you don’t already have a plan in motion. But to avoid the above from happening, have a manufacturing plan before your launch.
Holiday seasons will also be a stressful time for e-commerce as the demands will seemingly double (or even triple). Expect your peak sales to happen during these times.
Remain fully loaded with inventory and make sure that your company’s popular items for the season are available.
Also be certain that the supply chains are filled at the front end. Scale all of your resources. Be as flexible as possible to truly remain stress-free.
Don’t Have Too Many Options
Having variety in your products might sound like a great idea but it can cause issues down the line with fulfilling your orders.
Know that your customers will already be doing their own scaling when figuring out which companies to purchase from. You don’t need to oversell yourself.
Customers will compare prices, look for the best delivery options, the lowest shipping costs, and the best discount codes.
Your company should aim for pledge options with smaller rewards (i.e email newsletters, etc.) The focus should be to have brand integrity over bonus incentives.
Know who your customers are. Know their delivery preferences. Know their likelihood of return shipments. Know what type of packaging can be recycled on their curbs and what cannot.
Don’t be afraid to personalize your packaging either. Every bit counts when maintaining an e-commerce brand that people know they can trust.
The Bottom Line on E-Commerce Fulfillment
Whether your focus is on warehousing, marketplace fulfillment, order fulfillment, international marketplaces or any of these things that go into having a successful e-commerce business, you and your brand can certainly stay on top of it all.
Problems might come up and throw you for a loop. Yet following these tips should keep your brand on a good path.
Many people are finding innovative ways to utilize the internet to sell their fantastic products – you can too!