Careful consideration and proper planning of important fulfillment factors – along with constant process improvements – will help ensure e-commerce businesses are consistently delivering on customer promises.
According to a report from eMarketer, by the end of 2018 e-commerce sales worldwide will reach $2.356 trillion. What to expect from this is that basically more businesses will be looking to upgrade their online visibility and claim their share of this forecast. In addition, many e-commerce businesses will turn to the emerging omni-channel approach to grab a good share of their business. And to make full use of this approach, they will, in turn, need to enhance their usual way of handling the fulfillment process.
The fulfillment process includes all activities, from the receiving and packaging of an order to the shipping of the goods to customers. While a perfect fulfillment service is a pretty difficult target to achieve, identifying and optimizing some critical factors can help enhance the overall process. Below are four key areas to examine when evaluating and fine-tuning your fulfillment strategy and processes.
Assessment of demand/Fulfillment forecasts
For instance, there are lots of factors that need to be considered in executing cross-border deliveries. Developing a fail-proof strategy beforehand can help minimize errors:
- Research the market upfront & pick out a focus market suitable for product expansion. Looking for someone with first-hand experiences in picking-packaging, and especially logistics are worth evaluating as well.
- Forecast demands; take into account holidays and peak selling periods.
- Project which markets to focus on first and then plan for global expansion later. A step-by-step approach would do wonders in preventing the bottlenecks in executing cross-border deliveries.
It is vital to have complete knowledge of how the business is going to fulfill an order. One common mistake among new e-businesses is rushingly undertaking an objective at an early stage, without the proper experiences and know-hows. Getting too ambitious at the beginning could cost the business big time in the long run.
Design the business model based on trends & demand-side requirements
Understanding and catering business approaches to growing demands make for a profitable e-commerce business. Customer demand rules this industry.
Take delivery for example. Today’s customers are more than willing to pay a couple of extra bucks to have their packages delivered within the shipping day. E-commerce businesses that understand this trend offer ‘same-day-delivery’ service as a feature to attract more buyers.
The aim is to support all segments and varieties of order types by incorporating these varieties into one model. With that said, the model should leave rooms for constant enhancements and continuous communication with external points in the supply chain.
B2B and B2C fulfillment processes
Traditional business concepts are designated to a specific customer type, i.e., businesses largely classified themselves as either a B2B or a B2C company. However, the rapidly growing e-commerce platform has created an evolution to merge B2C and B2B sales.
Therefore, the utmost need is to be dynamic in order management and avoid sticking to just one supply chain process like before. Different orders could be fulfilled via different modes of fulfillment such as drop-shipping, employing a third-party logistics company, standard retailer model, etc.
Gone are the days of standardized fulfillment methodologies. Today’s businesses need to be prepared to meet new customer needs and ever-rising expectations. On-going process enhancements are essential to combat the present day competitive market.
Link demand and fulfillment by synchronizing processes
As mentioned above, it is crucial nowadays to be flexible with the mode of executing different types of orders. Achieving this requires these different modes be synchronized and well-planned to eliminate conflict. In other words, orders should be easily created via one system, and online stores in various e-commerce marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Magento, etc. should be able to do so as well, in order to process order automatically.
The way the orders are transported may also be different. The process should accommodate the different customer demands with the same diligence, and ideally with optimized cost.
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