Driving sales is becoming more and more challenging for e-commerce retailers. Consumers are demanding more value and becoming savvier as they contend with rising living costs and shrinking disposable incomes.
However, with challenges come opportunities – perhaps even more so for independent brands. Consumers are more inclined to shop around and increasingly willing to try smaller and medium-sized retailers. It’s a good time for these businesses to capture new shoppers and delivering an impeccable customer experience can create lucrative long-term brand loyalty and build the foundations to rapidly scale up. Outsourcing can help achieve this by freeing up time for e-commerce retailers to perfect the customer experience.
Anna Briggs-Price, head of sales at international fulfilment services provider fulfilmentcrowd, answers some of the key questions for retailers when it comes to outsourcing operations that will deliver the biggest value for their businesses and their customers.
Where to begin?
For scaling retailers, managing the growing number of sales from new customers can quickly prove overwhelming. There’s a risk of orders backing up, leading to bottlenecks and delays that can damage customer experience and limit any potential for repeat purchasing.
Outsourcing the picking, packing and delivery of customer orders can help avoid this. An expert partner can be brought on board to process orders and to keep them moving out to customers on time, while maintaining the brand identity and experience. But to deliver the greatest impact, retailers should consider what support a partner can offer to help manage stock inventory remotely, and in real-time, to truly maximise the benefits of outsourcing fulfilment.
The fulfilmentcrowd app has been developed and optimised to support retailers in this area. Using a combination of push notifications and user interface (UI) design, customers can access the information they need anytime, anywhere, on any device. This saves time and enhances customer satisfaction because the retailer can quickly rectify incorrect delivery information or stock issues that may affect delivery times. By proactively monitoring stock inventory for our customers, any issues are flagged early which enables them to be resolved quickly and efficiently before they escalate.
What capabilities does the partner offer?
E-commerce retailers must look beyond the warehousing capacity and the picking and packing services of a fulfilment partner. They should interrogate a partner’s technical expertise and prioritise a partner who has in-house tech and software capabilities. Having access to robust, real-time fulfilment and stock inventory management data allows retailers to make informed decisions based on consumer behaviour. This might be knowing when to expand a popular range, turning on a short-term promotion for a seasonal event, or simply having the tools to respond to consumer queries quickly and efficiently to keep them informed on the status of their order.
fulfilmentcrowd has regular conversations with customers to properly understand the challenges and opportunities they are facing to develop truly customer-centric solutions. With our in-house capabilities, we have the flexibility to act on these insights to build and refine tools, such as the app, to ensure they give retailers the functionality they require at their fingertips.
What about managing multiple sales channels?
Expanding sales channels is common practice for fast-growing e-commerce retailers with a rise in consumer purchasing opportunities through social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Many SMEs can jump from hundreds to thousands of customer orders per week by growing their digital footprint. Expansion and diversity of channels mean it’s crucial that, when it comes to outsourcing, retailers determine how easily they can integrate their fulfilment platform with sales channels, customer management systems and any other apps they use. The most effective fulfilment tech to look out for is ‘plug and play’ – it can reduce integration costs and ensures new opportunities can be quickly exploited.
Online retailers should ask potential fulfilment partners about what tech expertise the provider employs and how much they rely on external partners. fulfilmentcrowd has an in-house team of developers, responsible for designing and developing our app. This enables us to provide on-hand technical support to assist seamless integration with customer systems, drive continuous innovation and more effectively remedy any tech matters – saving time for retailers when it matters.
What will it cost?
Third-party logistics might sound like an expensive investment for independent retailers, but the solutions in today’s market are more affordable than you might think. Utilising in-house tech expertise and combining this with international fulfilment knowledge and experience, we’ve developed an online calculator that provides accurate, instant quotes without obligation.
This is backed-up by a transparent and straight-forward pricing model, making it quick and easy for retailers to determine the value of outsourcing fulfilment. It means that retailers can immediately see what they’ll be paying per week and per order to manage operating costs and avoid passing rising costs onto customers to keep products competitively priced.
By streamlining the initial quote and pricing stages, we can significantly reduce any lag between initial contact and the time it takes to get a new customer’s stock into our fulfilment centres. Saving time during the set-up phase more readily provides e-commerce retailers with the solution they need and means they can get on with growing order volumes and invest time in looking after their customers to keep them coming back.