Author: Rajiv Kumar, CEO and Founder, StoreHippo.com
ORDER NOW- it is not uncommon for many of us to click this button on our screens while purchasing products online. It is so simple for us, as consumers, to order for products and then get the advantage of products being delivered right at our doorsteps. Hardly do we ever ponder on the hard work and diligence that is put in behind the ‘camera’ which makes this possible. Just in case the delivery is not up to the mark, we say, “Oh! We will not bother to order from this website again. The delivery should be more efficient and timely.” Easily said but not done. It takes a lot of effort on the part of the online retailers to find reliable logistics partners who can provide a smooth and efficient delivery of products to their customers.
eCommerce has seen an unprecedented growth and this trend is likely to boom in the coming years with the advent of mobile commerce. Consumers today are purchasing nearly everything online, from antiques to furnishings and grocery to electronics. The increasing access to internet & broadband, availability of Smartphones, easing of norms for business ventures, the push of the present government under Narendra Modi for Digital India, recent move of SEBI to ease listing norms, raise capital and create a dedicated platform for startups to list on stock exchanges in India, are some of the stimulating factors which are spearheading the growth of a new breed of online entrepreneurs in India. Even established retailers are augmenting traditional brick-and-mortar store sales with eCommerce divisions. Having said this, it is no brainer that logistics will increasingly play a crucial role in the success of any eCommerce venture.
Logistics has come a long way in India. There was a time when the retailers used to directly source goods from suppliers and manufacturers. Today, there are eCommerce fulfillment distribution centers for distributing the products. Logistics includes many aspects like warehousing, inventory management, billing, packaging, labelling, shipping, cash on delivery, payment, product return & exchange, and much more. To streamline the process , the logistics firms need specialist enterprise mobility softwares which take care of most of the issues like tracking, management of stock levels, locations, packaging and fulfillment. Logistics firms also require know-how of the business & transport regulations of the country in which they are supplying the goods. For availing logistics services, the online merchants choose reputed courier companies or specialist third party logistics providers. Some established e-tailers also create their own logistics companies as they can ensure speed and accuracy, and also save costs at the same time. Whatever method they may choose, it has to be an efficient delivery model.
The eCommerce players also need to establish a system for reverse logistics which comes into play when the customer requests for return of a product because it is damaged or they wish to exchange the product for its size, colour and other reasons thereof. The online ventures have to ensure a hassle free return and exchange policy because this will go a long way in building a bond of trust with the customers. To minimize product damages, the logistics providers should use good packing materials and give ‘handle with care’ tags for delicate items. Here the role of the customer support team also comes into play. They have to be courteous and understand the need of the customer who feels that the product was not up to his expectations.
Retailers today are employing numerous ways to communicate with the customers like emails, newsletters, social media, advertisements, text messages and calls. With these mediums they are able to touch base with their customers and inform them about the status of their order and other services. At the same time, the eCommerce players realize that the person who delivers the product is the face of the company for the customer. The behaviour of the delivery person is a crucial factor to build a rapport with the customer. It is important to keep track of the delivery personnel who can easily deviate from the company rules and give untimely delivery of products. The delivery men should not be overburdened also as their ill-mood can affect the way they communicate with the customer. Thus, retailers should partner with those logistics firms which are professional in their approach.
The main role of logistics is to provide timely and efficient delivery of products so that the customer is satisfied and becomes your repeat customer, and also earns you more customers. Today, the online shoppers have the powerful tool of social media in their hands. They simply have to post on facebook or tweet about their experience, and this can make or break a company’s image. In today’s competitive market conditions, retailers have to put in the best efforts to exceed customer satisfaction. Some of the largest e-retailers have implemented same-day delivery to woo customers who can’t or won’t wait for even next-day service. Some retailers offer free or low cost shipping for many products (after a particular price range). An online consumer is looking for attractive pricing and hassle-free delivery of products. An exceptional product delivery experience is critical in not just winning but retaining clients. So, it is in the best interest of the eCommerce players to entail professional logistics services which would result in faster growth, success and dynamism for the company.
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