Brought to you by Red Stag Fulfillment:
Your end-to-end eCommerce process starts from the moment your customer places an order to the second it’s delivered. Streamlining that process can improve customer satisfaction, save costs, and boost profit margins, but it often requires internal adjustments as well as outsourcing to make an impact. Read on to learn more:
Starting with checkout, make sure your website’s process is user-friendly. Use automation and tech to minimize the number of clicks a customer needs to make during their purchase. Here are a few examples:
- Do you give customers options to speed checkout, such as social sign-in, guest checkout, and auto-populated address and payment details for repeat customers?
- Are the process, status, and next steps intuitive and visually clear? Be sure to provide instructions about missing data if a required field is left vacant. Include a back button as well for editing, but only provide access to the checkout procedure sequence.
- Do you offer payment choices your clients need and prefer? If you sell overseas, payment alternatives are especially critical. Make sure you’re aware of your customers’ preferences and stay current on global currency trends. Update your checkout to reflect the latest options for every location you ship to.
- Are purchase details clear? Be sure to include expectations for shipping dates, notifications, confirmation messages, and a follow-up email and/or SMS.
- How straightforward is access to and from your shopping cart? Audit and retarget software regularly to reduce abandonment.
2. Inventory and Fulfillment
Unless you’re a neighborhood florist or Amazon, you won’t be hiring drivers to deliver your product. And keeping sufficient inventory in your garage or basement could be a disaster waiting to happen.
By outsourcing your fulfillment, you’ll get a professional logistics department for your business without hiring a single person. You’ll also avoid the fixed costs associated with owning a warehouse and benefit from a network of fulfillment locations across the country.
Third party logistics (3pl) services enhance the customer experience since inventory handling, storage, and pick-and-pack fulfillment are consolidated with a single provider. Professional fulfillment can speed up order processing, minimize inventory shrinkage, and reduce returns.
3pl companies profit from economies of scale, and so can you. As a high-volume shipper, your 3pl can negotiate competitive shipping rates and dimensional weight factors to offer customers lower shipping costs. Many providers can offer suggestions to improve your process based on experience working with companies like yours.
Most fulfillment companies provide flexible storage space and carrier selection, too, which can help you offer reduced delivery times and shipping costs.
Customer order returns are the last thing you want as a retailer, but they need to be planned for and optimized. Simplifying the process is the best way to minimize associated costs.
The good news is that, if you contract with the right 3pl, the likelihood of returns can be minimized at time of fulfillment. Processing returns is something they can handle efficiently, both in cost and time. Fulfillment centers optimize automation for their own end-to-end processes:
- In-warehouse SKU tracking and screening gets product color, quantity, and other product details right the first time.
- Optimal packaging minimizes damage in-transit.
- Products can be returned to inventory, made available for resale, or used to supply a vertical of discounted goods in a different eCommerce flow depending upon how you set up your processes and business model. Regardless, the steps you need to take to make it happen are handled in one place.
Your business might not yet be large enough to require an ERP system, but if it is, make sure your eCommerce platform, ERP, and order fulfillment facility are integrated. For starters, consolidate your ERP system to get rid of all the middle layers. By consolidating the software required to run your eCommerce business onto one platform, an ERP like NetSuite or CommerceHub gives your operations more capability.
An annual assessment of your eCommerce software can find areas of overlap so you can get rid of any apps with features that are already covered by your ERP system. It can also point out areas where you can use more features or add automation to your platform.
The backbone of a prosperous online business is a well-structured eCommerce software suite where all the components interact with each other and your 3pl. Be sure to ask your provider how and where you can cut costs in the order flow and if there are gains to be made by spending a little more.
Maintaining, reviewing, and revising your end-to-end eCommerce process flow is essential for continuous improvement, cost control, profitability, and expansion. The solutions you use to power your business at every stage must adapt to and align with eCommerce’s constant change.