In recent years, e-commerce has become a more mainstream way of buying and selling goods. It’s easier than ever to set up a retail business online, both for private sellers and major corporations. Total worldwide e-commerce sales hit $2.8 trillion this year, and that number is expected to continue rising. By 2021, global retail e-commerce sales will reach as much as $4.5 trillion.
While setting up an e-commerce business may be simple in theory, however, it can be more challenging in actual practice. Many entrepreneurs forget that not all aspects of a business can be taken care of in an online space. Though e-commerce companies may not need a brick and mortar storefront, they still need a way to house and distribute their product. Here’s a guide as to how e-commerce companies can handle the logistical side of the business, from storing inventory to shipping and handling.
Warehousing and Storage
In between creating and shipping out goods, e-commerce retailers need to find a safe place to store everything. While small businesses may even be able to turn a home garage or guest bedroom into a makeshift warehouse, larger companies often need to rent out space where they can store their product. The indoor climate should be cool and dry to prevent damage to products, and it should be secure enough to lower the risk of stolen inventory.
Shipping and Transportation
Part of the shipping process is safely packaging goods so that they remain unscathed during transit. No customer wants to open their long-awaited packaged to find missing or damaged goods inside. It’s crucial to allow for plenty of space for each item, and include specialty boxing when necessary. For valuables, businesses should add plenty of padding during transit such as bubble wrap or foam peanuts. Some companies are even using shredded cardboard or newspapers for cushioning in an effort to go green.
Not every e-commerce company handles their own packaging and shipping processes, however. Many midsize to large retailers rely on truck drivers and other delivery partners to get the job done. Here are a couple of things that every business should look for when considering their choice of carrier:
- Weight Limits: Different couriers allow for different maximum weight allowed during a shipment. Companies with a bulky or heavy product may want to opt for companies with a higher weight limit per shipment.
- Location: You should look for couriers that have an office or headquarters central to your location and offers fast delivery to the surrounding area. If you plan on shipping internationally, you may have to combine both national and international carriers.
- Online Reviews: No matter how good a courier looks on paper, it’s a good idea to get a first-hand account of their efficacy. eCommerce owners can ask friends in the business sphere for recommendations, or turn to honest online reviews.
When it comes to e-commerce, logistics can play just as much of a role in customer satisfaction as the online side of operations. It’s important to make sure that products reach customers quickly and in one piece. By managing warehousing and shipping operations, business owners can ensure that each order they receive goes smoothly and attract loyal lifetime customers as a result.