Digital investment: The secret to keeping up with E-commerce demand?
By Ben Kaye, E-commerce and OMS expert at Mintsoft
With the levels of online shopping continuing to increase, retailers are continuing to feel the effect of the rising demand of order fulfilment. Peak season is just around the corner for online retailers and warehouses, and this year it comes with more pressure than previous years. Challenges such as increased consumer demand and supply chain issues due to the pandemic and Brexit mean that order fulfilment will be more difficult this year, and preparation is key.
Another thing that has impacted the E-commerce industry recently is an increase in customer expectations. Online shoppers now expect some sort of value at every touch point – easy payment options, cheap and convenient shipping and returns, and a seamless shopping experience, which is only adding to the growing pressures for online retailers. As the sector re-opens its physical door, all retailers have one thing in common; they must adapt to the demand shown in online shopping and revisit their approaches; from their supply chain through to the customer experience offered, or risk being left behind.
Many online retailers are changing their strategies to be able to meet their customers where they are shopping as the ability to shop 24/7 is part of E-commerce’s growth. Outsourcing logistics to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider is a popular solution amongst online retailers as it helps to keep orders moving.
Partnering with a 3PL has many benefits – the process of outsourcing logistic processes helps with order fulfillment by eliminating the strain for online retailers. A 3PL partner will take care of tedious processes and nowadays, many 3PL businesses have evolved their offerings by transitioning into tech first entities. Using a 3PL which has invested in technology allows online retailers to deliver a more responsive and consistent service. Online shoppers now choose convenience over brand loyalty, meaning how orders are picked and packaged, delivery costs and timings, and ease of returns all matter. In fact, according to Retail Insight Network, 78% of consumers say they value convenience more today than they did before the pandemic.
Of course, there are also options for online retailers and E-commerce businesses to innovate and scale up without outsourcing logistics. E-commerce software is on the rise, and another popular solution for online retailers as it allows them to deliver great customer experiences by automating the processes such as fulfilling orders and keeping all online shops and marketplaces updated at all times.
If you sell on multiple platforms and marketplaces, inventory management can often be time consuming and increases the risk of inaccurate orders and overselling stock. An Order Management System (OMS) supports you in managing your online shops across multiple E-commerce channels from a single platform and offers real-time stock sync. If inventory isn’t synced, it is likely order capability will be exceeded, and retailers won’t be able to deliver. Anticipating peaks, becoming aware of lead times from suppliers and getting a handle on the data behind inventory saves time later down the line and is something digitisation can help out with.
A big part of customer experience and meeting their expectations also comes in the delivery of their orders and investing in technology will allow online retailers to automate many processes. This not only saves time, but also improves the speed and accuracy of orders. Customer experience continues to be the main differentiator for the top E-commerce brands, and where delivery is concerned, this means choice and transparency. Having a multi-courier strategy is pivotal to providing multiple shipping options to meet your customers’ needs (time, price etc.) and this is made easy with an order management system, as you’re able to integrate with multiple couriers from one centralised platform. This makes it easier to select the best courier for the job as you’re not limited by courier choice. You’ll also have the option to send customers automated, real-time updates on their orders.
Both fulfilment and shipping play a significant role in the customer journey, especially when you consider that the point of delivery can often be the only face-to-face interaction customers will have with your brand. Automating your processes is a great investment as it will ensure accurate and timely deliveries – something consumers are demanding.
As many online retailers adapt to be able to overcome new challenges by investing in technology and digitising their processes, those that don’t are at risk of being left behind. Order Management Systems are the perfect solution for online retailers who are struggling to fulfil orders and meet delivery demand, or are looking to scale up. By having access to your inventory, marketplaces, couriers, and accounting systems from one centralised platform, you are in complete control of your E-commerce business.
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