3 Ways technology is helping omni-channel retailers meet global demand
As online and mobile sales continue to grow rapidly, retailers are enjoying the benefits of accessing an increasingly global marketplace: 24/7 trading and higher sales volumes. But these benefits bring with them the challenge of meeting customers’ expectations for delivery and visibility, no matter where they are around the world.
In order to stay profitable, omni-channel retailers need to minimise the time they spend managing and fulfilling orders and handling after-sales enquiries from customers. You can only accomplish this through optimising your internal processes, something that’s best done by leveraging the latest ecommerce and fulfilment technologies. These platforms help you improve your speed of delivery and end-to-end visibility while optimising your freight model for the highest possible margins. Here’s how.
Speed of delivery
Online shoppers expect instant gratification, and they don’t want to pay extra for it. For online retailers who want to attract new customers and retain existing ones, this means finding a way to offer same- or next-day delivery at a very low cost. And as online stores service a broadening customer base with a widening geographic reach, this becomes more and more challenging.
From a customer perspective, the speed of delivery is simply the time it takes to ship their order, and they want it to arrive at their door as soon as possible. But retailers are well aware that the order fulfilment process is far more complex than collection and delivery of goods, and it’s these processes that need to be streamlined in order to minimise the time taken from order to delivery.
Technology delivers the solution to this problem, replacing costly and time-consuming manual processes with automated processes that use software integrations to transcend the usual silos of responsibility. With the latest ecommerce technologies, you can
- process orders in real-time instead of end-of-day batches, so fulfilment begins without delay
- integrate all parts of order management and shipping, so no time is wasted manually entering data into other systems
- enjoy seamless partner integrations, where service providers have full visibility of retailers’ requirements, and vice versa
- avoid stock-outs by managing your inventory according to sophisticated demand forecast models.
By ensuring that orders are processed as quickly as possible and stock is on hand, you’ll be in a better position to meet your customers’ expectations for fast, free delivery.
There are probably some customers out there who have a strong preference for a particular shipping company, the vast majority don’t care whether you outsource fulfilment or drop ship their order. They just want to know where their parcel is, and when they’ll receive it.
By keeping your customers informed throughout the order fulfilment process with transactional emails from your ecommerce platform, you’re less likely to field questions from them. And you’re also more able to answer their questions if they do enquire, because the systems you’ve put in place to give customers greater visibility will also give your team greater visibility of the end-to-end process.
Of course, this becomes more challenging when you’re not just selling in your own online store, but also on eBay, Facebook, and other platforms. A true omni-channel retail platform assists by
- integrating systems and information across the supply chain
- creating a single view for the status of customer orders
- automating order monitoring across sales channels
- generating alerts when potential fulfilment or delivery issues arise.
These elements combine to give customers a clear picture of how orders are progressing, and ensure your staff are well-equipped to proactively deal with any enquiries or issues.
New models for transportation
The supply chain is evolving in response to the fast-paced demands of omni-channel customers. It’s no longer a case of simply managing shipments to and from stores, and traditional methods of handling inbound and outbound transport are no longer up to the task. Retailers are rethinking their transportation management, forming close partnerships with multi-modal solution providers, and continually monitoring and optimising their supply chains.
Technology can assist you here, too, by helping you keep on top of inventory sourcing and freight options. With a fully-integrated retail platform, you can improve your margins on each sale by
- optimising your delivery strategies
- automating your supplier orders to maintain the right inventory holdings
- minimising your freight and delivery charges.
All online retailers deal with these challenges—they’re a natural part of global ecommerce. By implementing the latest technology solutions as part of your ecommerce strategy, you’re equipping your business to face these challenges head-on and seize the huge opportunity of the global market.
About the author
Abbas Vakharia is the CEO and Founder of FreightKart, an online portal that aggregates and compares end-to-end logistics solutions from reputable sea freight forwarders to give businesses a one-stop shop for planning and booking freight.