Physical fulfillment is a primary differentiator in the world of ecommerce. Online sellers must fulfill the delivery they promised to their customers, keeping in mind that the post-purchase experience is a reflection of your brand. Companies that fail to deliver on time or properly will be tagged by consumers as unreliable.
Ensuring a great post-purchase experience—including delivery—while competing with giants such as Walmart and Amazon is no walk in the park. Consider that Amazon offers a two-hour to two-day shipping timeframe and other convenient options like pick-up at the nearest available lockers. On the other hand, Walmart and Home Depot as well as many others let customers purchase online and pick-up in nearby stores.
How can a smaller online retailer keep up with the likes of these ecommerce giants?
eCommerce Shipping Software Is a Necessity
Ecommerce logistics software developers are going the extra mile to help small and medium enterprises go head-to-head with the likes of Amazon and Walmart. eCommerce shipping software can help businesses around the world make their order fulfillment processes more efficient.
Investing in the right tools is necessary these days, particularly given the many market pressures ecommerce businesses face. Below are some data points to keep in mind when determining whether ecommerce software is necessary or not.
- 60 percent of consumers said they would patronize ecommerce platforms that offer free shipping
- 78 percent of consumers place a high value on delivery method, as they expect sites to deliver their orders within one week
- 54 percent of consumers are likely to cancel their orders if the shipping fees are too high
- 52 percent of consumers will buy more to qualify for the free shipping
- 75 percent of consumers don't want to pay more than $10 for shipping fees, while half of consumers say they are not willing to pay for more than $5
Online retailers must find a way to meet new consumer demands regarding order fulfillment and delivery or they will end up losing to competitors. The right logistics software can help ecommerce businesses keep their shipping costs down and offer more delivery options to consumers.
Choosing the Right eCommerce Shipping Software
eCommerce businesses vary in size, specialty, areas of service, processes, workflows, and so on. But, on some level, all have to deal with order fulfillment and shipping.
With so many order management and shipping software on the market, how does a merchant pick the best one to suit its needs?
Shopping for shipping software is not easy. It requires enterprises to assess their needs carefully and determine pain areas they need to improve. Below is a list of considerations for choosing software that will help you deal with your pain points.
In-cart Rating and Checkout
Businesses must offer the best options to customers when closing the sale including providing competitive shipping options. The available shipping choices are crucial to conversion.
Many online merchants tend to charge a flat shipping fee or provide free but slow shipping, but these are not enough—shoppers want more options.
For example, shoppers who are doing some last-minute shopping—such as buying a gift—might need the goods to be delivered as quickly as possible, even if they have to pay for the quick shipping. Merchants that only offer free but slow delivery options will see more abandoned shipping carts.
Naturally, there are software solutions with in-cart rating tools, allowing merchants to connect to the API of a carrier that can display the shipping rates at checkout. In order to really take advantage of this kind of functionality, however, you already need to have strong control over your last mile operations. You want to promise the world to your customers (in part to prevent them from abandoning their carts), but if you promise something you can’t deliver on (literally), the results will be even worse than if you had under-promised from the beginning.
Aside from more shipping options, affordable or free shipping, and reliable deliveries, consumers also expect full visibility on their orders. Shoppers want to know where their items are at any given time—especially if they already paid for the goods.
Providing consumers with real-time updates regarding their orders is a must these days. Giving them better visibility on their orders provides them with confidence that the business is in control of the order fulfillment process. Allowing shoppers to track their orders via the site also encourages shoppers to keep coming back where they will be tempted to shop again.
Some businesses take order tracking at a higher level by providing customers with automatic real-time alerts and updates. Automatic alerts and updates offer shoppers valuable peace of mind—they can see that their order is accounted for and will be delivered on time. Updating customers also lessens their need to call the customer support team, which in turn saves you manual labor and ultimately costs.
Businesses that are expanding at a fast rate often have a difficult time providing customers with a great delivery experience. In many cases, expansion results in orders piling up or deliveries getting delayed. In cases like these, using a third-party logistics or 3PL provider can be a great option.
Getting the services of 3PLs is beneficial for merchants that lack warehouse space and staff or are expanding their geographic reach. 3PLs have the infrastructure, equipment, tools, and manpower to support a business’s growth. They also have expertise that merchants sometimes don't have.
Take the case of shipping. Businesses that want to offer the same delivery options provided by the likes of Walmart and Amazon can engage a 3PL company that will handle the inventory management and delivery to customers. Some 3PLs are capable of providing distributed inventory due to their multiple warehouse locations—allowing for more economical and faster shipping as products are taken from the warehouse nearest the customer.
That said, contracting with a 3rd party doesn’t completely take online retailers off the hook. For technology in particular, successful partnerships typically need to be built on top of strong technology integration. Why? Because your customers are still looking to your company for positive delivery experiences with frequent updates, and you need a high degree of visibility into your 3PLs operations in order to make that possible.
Conclusion: Retailers Need the Right Tools
Increased consumer demands are forcing ecommerce businesses to evaluate their processes to ensure that they can stay competitive. Investing in technological solutions is one of the most important steps for achieving operational efficiency and keeping pace with the competition.
Of course, finding the right ecommerce shipping software is not always easy—especially with so many choices available on the market. Listing down your business goals and various shipping options that you want to offer can be a big help for figuring out what your particular needs. When in doubt, you can always get in touch with the software providers to know more about product features—the right vendor should be able to act as a trusted advisor for businesses that are trying to grow and evolve amid these changing market conditions.