In a 24/7 world, speed means everything.
That goes double for eCommerce and your supply chain. When the big players can get a package to its destination two hours after the customer has placed an order, you can’t afford to make any mistakes.
The good news is that speed alone won’t get the job done. You need speed, visibility and a great last mile experience to really create your own buzz.
Racing to the Last Mile
It’s unrealistic to think that your company will be able to provide the same speed of delivery for the same prices as those giant internet retailers that have their own distribution fleets.
Even so, you can still win your customers over with a really excellent order fulfillment experience. You can still provide reasonable shipping speeds and a high level of visibility all the way through their package’s last mile journey.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Speed isn’t always the most important thing. Although big brands often offer free rush shipping to almost anyone, you can’t do that without raising your prices astronomically.What you can do, however, is tell customers exactly when to expect their packages and stick to it. If you know UPS will take three days to move your product to the customer’s house, give yourself a realistic goal for order fulfillment and commit to delivering the package to the shipper on time.
- Increase your supply chain transparency. Shoppers are far more forgiving when they know exactly what’s going on with their orders. Generally, they can tolerate waiting four or five days for their packages, as long as they know those packages are moving.Provide them with tracking information, customer web portals or regular email updates so they’re always in the loop.
- Ask customers what they want. It may seem trite, but when you ask someone what they want out of your business, you’re showing them that you care about their opinions.Your business partnerships are no different than your personal relationships, sometimes there are things below the surface that a few questions can solve. If your customers want overnight shipping options or the ability to reroute their packages through a particular shipper, take note.
- Check out some 3PLs before you finalize your plan. Like with many things in life, sometimes it makes more sense to defer to the experts. If your warehouse is getting full or your order processing time is creating barriers to a really good customer experience, it may be time to unload that duty.A 3rd party logistics company can take over warehousing, inventory control, and order fulfillment, including last mile. Through various partnerships these companies have in place, they’re able to secure lower shipping rates, plus they’re given bulk rates on shipping supplies.
There has always been a real fear that small eCommerce companies won’t be able to compete with the really big ones, but the truth is that there’s plenty of room in the market for anyone who is customer-focused and can get a handle on that last mile. That’s where the real test is, keep it reasonably speedy and totally transparent so your customers have no question that their products will arrive when they need them.