By 2021, global B2C e-commerce sales are expected to surpass $4.5 trillion—almost double the $2.3 trillion reached in 2018.
But alongside the explosive growth of online selling, customer expectations have also soared.
If you’re an e-commerce retailer, not only should your line of products be of optimal quality, you need to be able to get them to your customer’s door as quickly as possible.
If you don’t, your competitors are lining up to scoop up those sales.
Abandoned Carts Due To Delays in Delivery
38 percent of online shoppers will abandon their orders if delivery takes more than a week. Amazon is setting the bar incredibly high with its two-day, next-day, and same-day delivery options. Customers increasingly expect on-demand access to products and services, and this heightened expectation poses great challenges for shipping and fulfillment.
B2B Penalties and Challenges – Impact On Retailers
Aside from direct to consumer online sales, shipping and fulfillment challenges can also have an impact on online retails who also sell their products through larger retailers.
In the U.S., retailers have become increasingly stringent when it comes to their suppliers’ order fulfillment.
Apart from the fines, suppliers may also be either blacklisted or excluded from promotions and left off dedicated shelf spaces. This can potentially add up to crippling losses for businesses.
Dissatisfaction Rating – Driving Away Your Customers
Around 69 % of consumers are less likely to do business with a retailer again if a purchase is not delivered within two days of the promised date. With the hyper-competitive e-commerce industry, there are plenty of options to turn to if customers are left dissatisfied.
It doesn’t just end with losing business from that one dissatisfied customer. People want to share their experiences—whether on social media or with their peers—which means your business reputation can take an exponential hit.
This is why it’s important to build relationships—and a great way to do so is by keeping a promise.
International Competition is On the Rise
The U.S. share of global retail e-commerce is expected to continue to drop to 16.9 percent by 2021—down from 22.2 percent in 2015. Of course, this is not to say that U.S. e-commerce sales are declining. It’s just that sales all over the world are rapidly increasing, most notably in Asia.
From this perspective, you can see how the quality of shipping and fulfillment has become almost as important as the quality of the products itself.
Apart from the obvious added costs of shipping overseas, international shipping also entails getting acquainted with rules and regulations, as well as the required paperwork and permits.
Tax and duties are also mostly country-specific, so you’ll have to keep that into consideration as well.
Think On Your Toes!
The best way to tackle the complex process of international shipping is by planning ahead. This entails building an information database with shipping rates for different package sizes and weights for the different countries you could ship to.
While this could be time-consuming, it allows you to set prices confidently and be prepared for any issues that may arise.
And if you have the resources for it, you could also opt to employ an e-commerce fulfillment service provider.
These businesses can provide you with all the rates and importation fee information you’ll be needing.
Communication and Transparency
The key here is to be transparent with your customers. While they may not expect to get their items overnight, it’s best to tell them just how long it could take, and offer shipping options.
A lot of customers are willing to pay a premium to get their orders sooner.
It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how seasoned the supplier you’re reaching out to is, they’re just trying to run a business—just like you.
Part of doing business is answering questions and concerns, so if you want to clarify anything—ask.
Perfect Your Inventory Management Strategy
Proper inventory management can address issues like these on the front end. Track inventory as it enters and leaves the warehouse with a centralized system.
Also, don’t neglect your warehouse conditions. Make sure your inventory his housed safely, and that it’s double-checked before being sent out. It would also be wise to invest in quality packaging and insurance.
Because each carrier has a unique set of services and prices, it’s important to practice due diligence when it comes to analyzing what your needs are.
For example, a lot of carriers offer packaging tailored to specific requirements. Opting for this instead of investing in your own is a good way to avoid added costs.
There are also mail carriers that provide fixed-rate shipping based on the distance a package has to travel. If you frequently ship to a certain location, see if the flat rate shipping is a more cost-effective solution.
Keep your finger on the pulse of technological developments. While not every innovation that comes along fits your business needs, you need to be aware of what options are available.
Automation allows you to be more effective and efficient in monitoring, tracking and moving orders throughout the supply chain. You might also find that having an e-commerce app boosts sales.
It may take an upfront investment, but it could ultimately boost your bottom line.
It’s easy to overlook when you’re just starting a business, but shipping and fulfillment problems quickly turn into a tremendous concern.
From warehousing, order fulfillment, and international shipping, a lot goes into making sure your products reach your customers.
But while it might seem overwhelming, there are a number of solutions providers that can help you at virtually every step of the way.
Make sure you cover all the bases to ensure that your customers don’t turn to your competition.