Faster Delivery a Requirement for Small, Fast-Growing eCommerce Companies
Everyone knows the moral of the tortoise and the hare fable: slow and steady wins the race. That was in the past, however, and there was no such thing as eCommerce. Now eCommerce companies that deliver online orders fastest (while maintaining accuracy) win.
Amazon Prime has redefined the expectations of online shoppers who demand orders placed with online retailers must be received ASAP. Next-day delivery is sufficient, but same-day delivery is optimal.
Amazon’s Prime Air program involving drone deliveries may have faltered due to airspace regulations, yet the company recently expanded same-day delivery to 8,000 cities in the U.S. Target also recently announced same-day delivery to compete with of Amazon and Walmart throughout the States. More will follow.
While these big online stores have the product turns and the finance to fund this type of order fulfillment mania, smaller eCommerce companies in apparel, jewelry, and other personal care products, must consider carefully how to compete. They too must recognize the critical role in improving operations, driving purchases, and increasing average order values. Even outsourced fulfillment to 3PLs must carefully examine the fluidity of eCommerce functions, from inventory control, accuracy of fulfillments, and rapidity of getting goods to the hands of the customer.
Many eCommerce companies are quite literally moving from their dining room table or garage to a first warehouse, due to strong consumer demand. Choosing the wrong technology leads to unnecessary costs, poor customer service, poor product visibility, out-of-stock concerns, and ultimately lower re-order rates.
Beyond 100 Orders a Day
When launched, an eCommerce company hopes they have a unique product offering that will appeal to the public. The hope is they have something special that will take off and be met with strong demand and rapid growth trajectory. Yet few of these smaller business owners are prepared to meet the immediacy of strong customer demand. The manual system sufficient for less than one hundred orders a day, now means slower processing cycle times, leading to delays in order shipping, higher costs, and disappointed customers. Failing to meet service-level agreements (SLA), always translates to unhappy customers who will not reorder nor return. Paper-based order processing complicates the real-time visibility, increases costs, and overwhelms the new entrepreneur.
eCommerce companies are finding efficient, cost-effective, and simple ways to automate the order process using a variety of apps. Gone are the days of the RF guns; now entire warehouse operations run on apps and tablets.
Workflow rules automate customer order software ensuring that the data is captured and sent to the correct personnel for immediate order processing, manufacturing replenishment, and handled automatically without supervisory input.
Manufacturers automate the order process as soon as 100 or more orders a day require shipping. It does not require 10,000 packages a day to justify the relatively low expense of automating the fulfillment process. These small eCommerce firms are then poised for rapid grow while expecting a 90 percent higher order processing speeds than with manual processing.
Automation ensures that less physical labor is required, often the single largest expense at a warehouse. With very low employment rates (below 4 percent nationally), the average warehouse workers wage now exceeds $18 per hour.
Automation also quantifiably means fewer supplies are used and that internal infrastructure costs are reduced. Since less time is spent processing orders, 24//7 real-time visibility is enhanced. With this visibility, risk is mitigated due to an improved forecasting, workflow prioritization, budgeting, and planning
Automation Improves eCommerce Customer Service
Because small companies now have complete access to documentation and accurate inventory, shipping, and customer information, eCommerce companies can offer a level of exceptional customer service, keeping paying customers happy and reordering. eCommerce is dependent on word of month; a happy customer will drive the growth, profitability, and success online. A bad review can be a terminal diagnosis.
Through improved speed, accuracy, and efficiency, automation guarantees that same-day or next-day delivery, because an order quickly enters and exits the supply chain. In preparing for the current growth trajectory and capacity for continue expansion, it is critical to consider the employees in customer service, production planning, shipping, and logistics. Technology solutions on a tablet empowers new small eCommerce enterprises to coordinate the delivery of the products, visibility across multiple formats, and channels to fulfill improved customer satisfaction.