The rapid growth and expansion of e-Commerce is very real
Thanks to the wide reaching spread and impact of the Internet, e-Commerce – the process of selling and buying products and services over the Internet or other electronic and digital devices – has witnessed a boom in recent years. E-Commerce has truly gone global. Already popular in the U.S, within the next 5 years, China and India are expected to see faster e-commerce sales growth as well.
According to marketing research firm Coleman Parkes, 21-40% of a business’s contributions are a direct result of eCommerce and that number is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. The online-market is drawing more and more consumers into its realm every day, because who would want to face the hassle of making the journey to a physical store when the same products are just a click away and can be delivered to you at your doorstep. It really is that simple, easy and convenient. Most big retailers and even smaller ones have an online store presence that encourage consumers to take advantage of.
Today’s buyers have very high expectations of customer experience
The rapid expansion of e-Commerce has significantly impacted the way Consumers interact with retailers. Consumers are adopting new technologies quicker than ever. According to a recent study by Pew Internet Research, nearly half of all Americans now own a smartphone. That’s a 28.5 percent increase versus 2011 – and the market still has great potential for growth. A recent study from comScore also found that 86 million Americans are using their smartphones to shop online.
Today’s buyers have very high expectations of customer experience and online – customer service is of paramount importance! Customers want more product options, more product information, more customization and personalization. They want more contact with retailers. More importantly, they want more control over the transaction, reduced processing times and enhanced delivery times. This can be very overwhelming and put a lot of pressure on the retailer especially if it’s a smaller business.
Working with an order fulfillment service can be key to growing your small businesses
According to a new report from Morgan Stanley’s internet and retail team. “Fulfillment execution is key to realizing eCommerce’s disruptive potential……Fulfillment execution will remain the key factor driving growth followed by price, selection, convenience, distribution and cost structure.” And while the future of e-commerce looks smarter, faster and more promising for small businesses, successfully managing and completing the point of sale process is essential to long-term success.
When your e-commerce business grows to the point where you can no longer package and ship the orders yourself or if you are a small business owner with limited space staff, time and money it’s time to consider partnering with an outsourced, specialized order fulfillment company. Fulfillment warehouses offer small business the opportunity to compete with the “big dogs and can benefit you in the following ways:
Inventory Storage and Management makes your business inherently scalable
As your business grows, you don’t have to worry about adding new infrastructure and new inventory controls and equipment. The small business owner can store a larger variety and quantity of inventory at the fulfillment company’s off-site location and most companies have multiple storage warehouses. The fulfillment center will receive, tag and organize inventory. Most have a web-based application where you can log in and view your current inventory, as well as, the history of each item. A good fulfillment company will strive to coordinate their storage planning with your sales history. Some fulfillment companies, like ShipBob, will even plan to accommodate large swings in sales due to promotional activities like a Kickstarter campaign or features on popular TV or radio programs.
Automatic Order Fulfillment Improves Delivery Time
Most fulfillment companies will store a portion of your products (enough to fulfill likely orders) near their packaging and shipping area. That way, when an order arrives, they have everything they need to fulfill the order quickly. The rest of your inventory will be held in deeper storage. Fulfillment companies receive customer orders in a few different ways:
- Complete integration with your point of sale (POS) system or ecommerce platform
- Bulk order uploads via CSV files
- Manual order entries
Fulfillment warehouses usually accept shipping requests via a web-based application, by emailing your invoices or an order spreadsheets e-mailed directly to the warehouse. When the shipping requests are received, the items are automatically packaged and shipped to the customer. Most fulfillment warehouses have a web-based application where you can log in to view the status of an order. Warehouses even notify your customers of their order tracking numbers. Some Fulfillment companies have inbuilt customization eg , splitting order deliveries if necessary. In addition to offering multiple facilities and elastic staffing that can scale up your business, Whiplash also provides direct API access and personalization, allowing you to pause, edit and cancel orders up until the moment they ship.
Fulfillment Services Offer Complete Integration
Fulfillment companies offer complete integration i.e a level of integration that automatically alerts what order needs to be fulfilled and transfers all necessary order information to the fulfillment company. What’s more, all this is viewable to you and the fulfillment company in real time! It should be relatively easy to see if a fulfillment company fully integrates with your POS or ecommerce system. Red Stag Fulfillment directly integrates with some of the ecommerce platforms that are most popular with small or startup.
Outsourcing Order Fulfillment Operations Free You Up To Grow Your Small Business
Contracting a fulfillment company to handle the logistics of storing and shipping your inventory can allow your business to focus more of its resources on the things it does best. Most fulfillment companies will also receive, examine and process returns for you. The time that you normally spend packaging orders, tracking inventory, and dealing with returns, can now be focused on growing your business. Use this time to market your product, expand your product line, enhance your website, promote your business or expand into new markets.