Cracking the e-commerce fulfilment code with inbound logistics
$1.915 trillion. For an industry that drew scepticism from its business revenue models, e-commerce has come a long way, nearing almost two trillion dollars in sales for 2016. But just like any success story, it hasn’t come without shaking up the system. The biggest hurdle in the path was replicating the personalised touch of offline business models. But instead of shifting the paradigm, e-commerce companies went ahead and broke it instead.
The customer wants 1-day delivery? Done. The customer wants hassle-free returns? Done. The customer wants better payment solutions? Done. Companies realised the fight was not about bringing the customers to their site; it was about making them stay. That’s where they started to win.
But with each ‘Done’, the e-commerce company loses money. For, in the end, it’s an added service they are providing for retaining the customer’s loyalty & happiness. The only way e-commerce companies can bear these costs is by working on boosting savings on the ‘invisible’ side of the business: Inbound logistics.
Why inbound logistics?
E-commerce companies need to realise fast that their revenue models based on vendor commissions are not sustainable. The profit margins can be widened instead, by working on improving their storage, delivery, and transportation systems i.e. inbound logistics. E-commerce fulfilment can get a major boost with some minor change in inbound operations.
Inventory management is the first step. Make sure stocks are replenished swiftly, and inventory is strategically positioned by placing it in the right warehouses. The next step is to assign a calculated number of movers to each warehouse, depending on what inventory they have.
Putting everyone in the loop
Keeping your staff informed about the stock movement is often the most undervalued aspect. It helps them make better judgement calls with customers. An employee can provide specific information to a customer on the availability of stock if he/she knows all the stock movement. It prevents customers from turning to your competitors.
Making an investment in technology helps consolidate profits by helping choose the best modes of transportation. Not only that, technology can help chart profitable routes, optimise cargo capacity of transport, and help complete orders in record times.
Time is the most important resource for an e-commerce company. A delayed delivery can do all the damage. Smart Warehousing will make sure all packages are accounted for, and at lightning fast speeds. This helps especially during festival seasons. After all, time is money.
You’ll be surprised to know how on-demand packaging can help conjure savings out of nowhere. Using machines, products can be precision-packaged to the inch. The wasted packaging material is as good as dumping your money down the drain.
Innovation is not just embracing technology for your business. It’s also about the willingness to change and adapt as per the environment. E-commerce is a dynamic industry, and that’s it’s USP. With the right approach, 2017 looks set to be another booming year for e-commerce business.