Getting through Christmas as a small e-commerce business can put a lot of strain on the personal lives of the owner, due to the enormous time commitment getting everything ready for the big day. There are things you can put in place in preparation for the festive season next year, meaning the business can become leaner and more efficient.
Outsourcing fulfilment can help streamline business processes and deliver a better service for customers, potentially reducing the need to employ seasonal staff and can relieve stress over the busy period.
However, it doesn’t just stop with excellent fulfilment services. Exact Abacus – fulfilment and technology specialists – look to 2018 and provide their predictions on the latest technological advancements that will impact fulfilment and e-commerce. There’s plenty of hype around drone deliveries and warehouse robotics but this article will concentrate on things that will become ‘hot’ for small online retailers, trends that may have already been adopted by some of the larger online organisations.
Need for speed
Increasing consumer demand and larger organisations adopting next day delivery will place a greater pressure on smaller online retailers. Speed, convenience and accuracy now define a consumer’s shopping experience.
In 2018, same day delivery will take a step up and become the new norm as consumers begin to expect real-time information around product availability, shipping and inventory counts. This means smaller online business will need to utilise real-time management information driving a slicker customer journey.
Integration and omnichannel consistency
Customers expect to buy seamlessly and interact across channels, using different devices. Whilst many online retailers have a strong presence on multiple channels, they must achieve efficient integration. Again, this comes back to efficiencies in real-time information and presenting this to the consumer in a simple and easy to digest format that is consistent across all selling platforms.
This trend will grow dramatically in 2018 with the advancement of technology and the possibilities of personalisation.
Messenger apps and chatbots
The chatbot trend has already developed at a pace in 2017 providing an instant connection with customers on a 24/7 basis. The quickest adopters of this technology are millennials and this is another step in the direction of personalisation, suggested content and special offers.
With over 1.2 billion people on Facebook messenger every month, e-retailers can expect huge engagement rates. This trend will be adopted by many more organisations in 2018.
Whiteglove fulfilment continues to grow
More online retailers are selling premium and delicate products online that require extra care during the fulfilment process. Whiteglove fulfilment is becoming increasingly popular with the growth in consumer demand for purchasing luxury goods online.
Finding a fulfilment partner that can provide this service will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty as the business is providing an excellent delivery service for high value items.
Seller fulfilled Prime programme by Amazon
Amazon has recently launched their seller fulfilled programme, allowing businesses selling via Amazon to gain Prime status offering next day delivery via third party logistics or in their own warehouse.
Online retailers are being selected to go through Amazon’s trial to become an exclusive Seller Fulfilled Prime member. This will be huge trend in 2018 as more retailers get on board.
Testing involves dispatching 100 packages to 100% service level over a five day period to ensure that only quality online retailers with capacity can become a Prime accredited seller.
The Brexit effect
There’s very much a sense of uncertainty for the retail e-commerce industry and this may mean that SMEs want to run a tight ship in preparation of the official Brexit date.
The European Union (EU) is Britain’s largest trading partner, while western European markets account for more than 50% of the export market for online businesses, potentially putting a strain on the bottom line. During the last recession, it was gym memberships and coffee that went out of the window. However, it is expected that Brexit will affect the larger ticket items, such as clothes and larger purchases as people in the last 10 years place more value in the fitness and wellness industry.
This is likely to further the demand of leisure type products in the form of subscription box services. As competition in this market grows, brands will heavily rely on their fulfilment partners to create a special brand experience for customers every month.