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3 Tips for Getting E-Commerce Delivery Right

This year has upended e-commerce in ways that are almost unthinkable. Since March, e-commerce volumes have grown exponentially, reaching peak-like levels, and with this unexpected growth came delivery delays.  Looking ahead to the “real” peak season, volumes are predicted to hit unprecedented levels and carriers are already anticipating capacity crunches, meaning delays could continue.

Here are three tips to get e-commerce delivery right and keep customers satisfied in the days ahead:

1. Accurately Set Delivery Expectations

The good news is that most e-commerce shoppers understand the pandemic has slowed delivery times. The one- or two-day delivery turnarounds shoppers previously enjoyed simply aren’t possible in a shipping landscape where volumes are high, and capacity is tight.  But where many retailers have gone wrong, is in their communication to customers about delivery events and delays.  One recent report found that 42 percent of online shoppers want to receive real-time updates on their packages.  To underscore the importance of this statistic: this is roughly the same percentage of shoppers who want free shipping.

ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainTherefore, as we head into peak season, retailers should make sure they have a clear communication strategy to accurately set delivery expectations – and the right technology to execute.  Retailers who have implemented a cloud TMS for parcel shipping benefit from Control Tower functionality, which means they can provide shoppers with the transparency they value. The system will send early warning signs when there are parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” empowering customer service teams to proactively trouble-shoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker.

With a cloud TMS for parcel shipping, customers can even track and trace shipments on a retailer’s website without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing customers’ browsing behavior on the retailer’s website – which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables retailers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier selection from the onset.

2. Have an Omnichannel Distribution Strategy

If we’ve learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that retailers that take advantage of their physical presence are the ones to gain a competitive edge.  Having the ability to pull multiple e-commerce order fulfillment levers such as deliver from store, buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), and delivery drop-offs in lockers is a critical differentiator over retailers that execute e-commerce fulfillment from warehouses and distribution centers only.

A recent study reported deliver from store is the most popular e-commerce order fulfillment method because it’s the optimal way for retailers to meet consumer demand and stay on par with Amazon’s one-day delivery.  Studies also report that by delivering orders from store, retailers enjoy six times more order volume and a 169% increase in conversion rates, offsetting order fulfillment costs and increasing consumer satisfaction. Furthermore, 61% of shoppers prefer a one- to three-hour delivery window, which is usually only achievable by delivering from the store closest to the customer.

But customers’ demands don’t stop there.  Eighty-six percent have requested products be sent to a store or locker and approximately 50% factor in the availability of BOPIS when making a purchasing decision. This is actually good news for retailers, as BOPIS is a win-win. With BOPIS, retailers reduce the cost of delivery and increase in-store sales, and consumers get their products faster and avoid a shipping charge.

Therefore, smart retailers are ensuring their e-commerce platform includes information about product availability and allows customers to choose from a variety of delivery options.  And just as before, retailers need a cloud TMS for parcel shipping on the back end, which seamlessly integrates with a retailer’s system of record to automate high volume, multi-carrier, omnichannel shipping.  Regardless of which delivery option the customer chooses, the system automatically selects the right carrier service for each order according to parcel origin, parcel destination, carrier contracts, and business rules; and creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents.  Retailers can thus satisfy customers’ delivery requirements and drive down the cost of shipping–transforming logistics into a profit center within the business.

A cloud TMS for parcel also ensures retailers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy to achieve omnichannel fulfillment.  The software will include a Business Intelligence platform to help retailers understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, package size, and density affect spend within their transportation carrier landscape.  For instance, if a retailer is implementing changes in fulfillment to increase ship-from-store or locate a new DC, understanding how these changes impact zone and carrier service-level downgrade options is critical.

3. Prioritize the Last Mile

Although retailers understand the importance of e-commerce, they often fail to prioritize the last mile, treating it as the carrier’s problem, not theirs. But this is a mistake. Last mile delivery is expensive – the most expensive portion of the end-to-end delivery equation. According to BI Intelligence, the total cost of shipping for the last mile is 53% of the total delivery cost.  And with the ubiquity of “free shipping,” customers are unwilling to pay a delivery fee, forcing retailers to absorb the cost.

To overcome challenges in the last mile, retailers should utilize an omnichannel inventory approach, maximizing their number of inventory sources, including distribution centers, warehouses, and stores, so they are closer to the customer.  And a key component to this approach will again be – you guessed it – a cloud TMS for parcel shipping.

A cloud TMS for parcel shipping will allow retailers to access and rate shop within an extensive network of carriers, including last mile carriers such as OnTrac, LaserShip, and Speedy Delivery, which usually offer next-day ground delivery within 400 miles of a shipment’s origin and without the surcharges national carriers assess.  Gaining in popularity among retailers of all sizes, last mile carriers can be the key to avoiding the national carriers’ holiday surcharges this year and to achieving faster, cheaper delivery in the last mile.

Start Today to Get E-Commerce Delivery Right

This year’s peak season will be different, and to get e-commerce delivery right you’ll need the help of a best-of-breed system such as Logistyx TME. To learn more, contact an expert today.

E-Commerce Shipping Solutions: 5 Benefits to Expect

In e-commerce, the customer experience doesn’t end after someone clicks ‘place order’ on your site. Customers demand visibility, control, and communication during the entire shopping experience, beyond the website UX and the shopping cart; they also want visibility into parcel tracking, from the distribution center to their front door. And to make matters more difficult, customers want delivery to occur as fast as possible for free, turning to other retailers if these boxes aren’t checked.

Thus, e-commerce providers have to compete with expedited shipping — the likes of the two-day Amazon promise — to meet customer demands. And, somehow, they must do so for free while maintaining competitive pricing on their products.

The solution? Advanced e-commerce shipping software. Once retailers find the ideal fit for their operations, parcel shipping tools can assist with meeting customer expectations, boosting revenue growth, and staying competitive in the rapidly evolving e-commerce market.

Here are five benefits of implementing the right e-commerce shipping solution:

1. Finding the Right Carrier Service at the Lowest Cost

When it comes to carrier services, there are thousands of options. Especially with high-volume international distribution, shippers need to access an extensive carrier services network to meet their customers’ delivery expectations. But what if retailers could get the best of every carrier service?

E-commerce shipping solutions place all carrier options at the retailers’ fingertips. Advanced platforms allow users to instantly compare carriers and services to locate the best service for each shipment according to the retailer’s business rules. And by integrating these solutions into their supply chain ecosystem, retailers can meet their delivery objectives at the lowest cost for every shipment.

2. Streamline Shipping Processes

While the end goal of any shipper is to deliver products to customers on time, without damage, at minimal cost, and in the most efficient manner possible, the recent spike in e-commerce has also increased customers’ ability to customize their shipping options, and businesses must be able to accommodate this delivery personalization.

New call-to-actionE-commerce shipping solutions enable the retailer to meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the retailer’s system.  They automatically determine the carrier that can provide the best rates to a particular region and according to the retailer’s business rules, ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.

In addition, e-commerce shipping solutions enable retailers to easily use “zone skipping” (also known as “hub induction” or “direct injection”) to improve customer service and decrease transportation costs. Zone skipping occurs when multiple customers’ orders are consolidated for the first leg of the delivery journey and then inserted into a parcel carrier network for the last-mile delivery. This is especially beneficial for cross-border shipping because it significantly simplifies end-to-end logistics and decreases customs clearance costs.  The approach also provides greater flexibility since retailers can select local carriers in different countries and regions that have optimal delivery networks for serving their customers.

Importantly, e-commerce shipping solutions also ensure retailers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy from the onset.  The software aggregates and normalizes shipping data across carriers, so retailers know when deliveries moving to a particular region, customer, or via a particular carrier are not meeting service levels. Retailers can hold carriers accountable for failing to meet expectations and wield hard data to back up rate negotiations.  They can also consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

3. Tracking Shipments & Resolving Problems in Real-Time

The right e-commerce shipping solution will offer end-to-end parcel tracking, which provides two key benefits for retailers:

  • By tracking parcels from the warehouse or distribution center to the customer’s doorstep, retailers can resolve processing or transportation issues in real time.
  • By providing timely delivery updates to customers and options to personalize the delivery method, it improves the customer experience.

By collecting all tracking information and generating delivery event alerts that feed into the CRM system, customer service teams can proactively trouble-shoot delivery exception events and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Customers can even track and trace shipments on company websites without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior on the retailer’s website – which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables retailers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier contract negotiations.​

4. Getting Accurate Invoices & Negotiating Carrier Contracts

Carriers aren’t always perfect, and neither are the numbers on their invoices. While e-commerce providers of all sizes have grown to expect the inaccurate application of carrier surcharges and other fees, they’re nearly impossible to catch through manual invoice auditing. However, retailers can uncover these savings opportunities once they add an e-commerce shipping solution with freight audit and analytics tools to their shipping operations.  Freight audit and analytics tools will streamline the financial management of shipping costs by automating carrier invoice matching to identify invoice discrepancies. Plus, if the system has a deep ERP integration, it will allow for sophisticated account allocation and cost accruals.​

5. Making Data-Driven Decisions

Retailers without the ability to analyze real time shipping data in a Business Intelligence platform fail to understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, package size, and density affect spend within their transportation carrier landscape.  They can’t visualize how and where changes are planning to (or should) occur, and this means they’re on their back foot when it comes to carrier negotiations. For instance, if a retailer is implementing changes in fulfillment to increase ship-from-store or locate a new DC, understanding how these changes impact zone and carrier service-level downgrade options are critical.

In addition, retailers without real-time data and the Business Intelligence to put this data to work can’t answer questions, such as:

  • What is the impact of a proposed carrier rate change on spend?
  • What are the available transportation savings with newly proposed carrier options?
  • How will ship-from-store or new DC placement affect spend?

By harnessing this data and using the Business Intelligence tools found in an e-commerce shipping solution, retailers can extrapolate transportation spend impacts across significant data sets and visualize the effects across variables such as weight breaks, zones, regions, service levels, etc.  This visualization will allow retailers to easily identify areas ripe for further negotiation and empower them to make cost-savvy supply chain decisions that align with business strategy.

Finally, leveraging data to perform predictive analytics in logistics can help retailers reduce costs by making real-time procurement a real-life possibility. Identifying the ideal combination of carriers requires simulation analysis. If all carriers delivered to all regions with all services 100% on time, this would be a simpler exercise. But carriers don’t always perform at 100%, and by understanding where carriers perform well (and not) and leveraging this information within procurement simulations, retailers can rapidly evaluate predicted delivery performance and cost impacts, identifying the optimal carrier service combination based on factors such as service, price, capacity, and quality.

The benefits of e-commerce shipping solutions are clear: by rate shopping across a multi-carrier network, streamlining shipping processes, tracking parcel delivery movements, automating carrier invoice matching and reconciliation, and leveraging advanced analytics and reporting tools, retailers can meet customer delivery expectations at a palatable cost.

To learn how Logistyx can help your company satisfy customers and save on transportation spend, contact us today.​

 

E-Commerce Growth a Strong Signal for the Supply Chain and Logistics Job Market

Ongoing e-commerce growth fueled by a variety of factors, from COVID-19 to the increased popularity of online shopping, continues to change the way consumers shop and interact with brands. But what does it mean specifically for the supply chain and logistics industry?

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that, while some brick-and-mortar retail jobs have been eliminated, more jobs in fulfillment, delivery, and related e-commerce roles were created between 2007 and January 2020 than those lost, according to Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute. While the U.S. job market continued to dip after January, the proportional rise of supply chain and logistics industry jobs is predicted to continue, which is welcome news for people across the country looking to break into this high-growth industry.

In a global economy of growing consumer expectations with new brands entering the e-commerce space and well-established brands ramping up their e-commerce offerings, a digitized supply chain backed by an experienced team helps businesses stay competitive. With this continued trajectory towards a need for increased supply chain and logistics talent, digitally transforming the supply chain to increase flexibility, visibility and reduce costs will enable all the players in the market to effectively confront these challenges.

New call-to-actionAs the WSJ points out, automation in the workforce can create anxiety about job loss, while in fact, automation often creates more and better-paying jobs than it eliminates. Companies that adopt automation use it not only to streamline production, but to find new ways to offer valuable goods and help make its workforce more efficient.

Likewise, along with creating more jobs, advancements in automation create greater accessibility to supply chain technology; so organizations of all sizes can opt in to digital transformation and create stronger e-commerce strategies that will help them compete with a growing influx of e-commerce brands across categories.

For companies looking to enhance e-commerce strategies and the way they execute supply chain outcomes, automating processes for sourcing and delivering goods through technology can offer a clearer view into the supply chain and help organizations empower their workforce to drive better business decisions.

To learn more about how a multi-carrier shipping system can meet your e-commerce shipping needs, contact us today.