One of the most important considerations for an online retail business is the speed of deliveries after orders have been placed. Most customers do not want to be waiting for weeks for products they have ordered to arrive. Especially in the era of next-day delivery from the likes of Amazon, consumers have begun to increasingly expect to have their product with them only a couple of days after they click that ‘Buy’ or ‘Order’ button.
While smaller online retail businesses can really struggle to compete with the resources that giant corporations like Amazon have at their disposal, unfortunately, consumers often still expect these super-fast deliveries from even the smallest one-person operation! Is this unfair? Probably. Is it likely to change? Unfortunately not.
If you want to compete in the world of online retail, you will need to make your delivery process as quick as possible. So, how can you do this? Here we will explore some of the steps that you can take to make sure your deliveries arrive with your customers in as little time as possible so that your customers return to your business time and time again!
The first step to fast deliveries is making sure that the products that customers want to order are actually in stock in the first place. You can have the speediest next-day delivery service in the world once items are ordered, but if customers have to wait for weeks on end for out-of-stock products to come back in stock, they are likely to simply give up and order from another business.
How can you make sure your stocks are full? That brings us to the next point…
Choosing the most efficient and reliable suppliers is the best way to make sure that your products are always in stock. The best suppliers for your business will vary based on your specific individual circumstances, such as the products you sell, the location you are based in, and where your customers are based.
However, sometimes the closest suppliers in terms of proximity are not necessarily the most efficient and the best ones for you to choose—there are many other factors to consider when choosing suppliers.
It is essential that you know when an order has been made as soon as the customer places it. This may mean hiring staff to deal with incoming orders in shifts or even outsourcing this task to another company.
If your business is larger, it is almost definitely best to automate this with a reliable eCommerce platform that logs orders and automatically sends order confirmations to the fulfillment center. In fact, this is recommended, if possible, for online retail businesses of all sizes!
If you store your stock in your own warehouse, keeping track of the admin and logistics of stock can be difficult and incredibly time-consuming. If this is the case, it may be wise to consider using a warehouse management system. When choosing any system that is important to your business operations, it is always best to do your research on the different options that are out there.
The process of order fulfillment (a broad term that refers to every step of the process from purchase of an item to delivery) is usually complex and involves a lot of ‘moving parts’ (both figuratively and literally!). If you can afford to do so, it is definitely worth considering outsourcing this to a dedicated order fulfillment company. You can learn more about order fulfillment services at this link.
The larger the number of different steps in any process, and the more people and systems involved, the higher the chance there may be of problems occurring. Sometimes, only one damaged link can sever an entire chain! There is certainly an advantage to keeping your processes as simple as is realistically possible. Don’t cut corners, and always have a backup plan for any process, but remember that simplicity is usually an advantage. The lower the number of steps involved in a process, the less potential for error.
Even if you have the fastest possible delivery service, it is important for the customer to feel ‘in the loop’. This usually means setting up an order confirmation system so that the customer knows exactly when their order has been received and confirmed, when it has been shipped, and possibly even a more advanced order tracking system. If you partner with some courier services, they may even have their own order tracking systems that you don’t need to implement or maintain yourself!
When running an online retail store (or any kind of business, for that matter), it is important to make sure that the products you are selling are high quality. However fast your delivery is, you don’t want your customers sending the products back for a refund if you are able to avoid it!