Ecommerce is what everyone and anyone who sells online is doing. Whether you’re selling your skills as a freelance creator or selling a physical product, you are engaging in ecommerce. Fun, isn’t it?
Well, yes, until you start becoming successful… Then suddenly you find yourself juggling too many things all at once – orders to fulfil and publicity to run, a social media presence to maintain, marketing, creation or sourcing of goods.
If you are a seller of physical goods, this is the point where you have decisions to make. You can choose to hire in specialists, or outsource areas as you need. The good news for you is that outsourcing can also include the provision of your customer service, order fulfilment and delivery requirements. Yes, there are companies out there who will operate as your warehouse and courier. The staff will deal with the order, pack the goods and arrange delivery for you. It’s similar to the way the online grocery shopping experience works where the next thing you know after placing the order is that the driver is banging on your door with a crate full of freshly picked and packed groceries. Using a third party company for your fulfilment and delivery may sound like the expensive option, but in fact such firms can offer you more effective cashflow, higher profit and greater competitiveness. They have the knowledge and network to be able to streamline your order process, meaning your customers pay less and wait a shorter time for their delivery. That can’t be bad.
Ecommerce specialist companies will take the headache out of that middle ground between being a small business in expansion and being a big enough business to afford your own warehouse and staff. These experts will handle all aspects of having the order that the customer placed delivered to their door. They will also often use electronic scanners to ensure that the correct product has been picked, which then allows use of intelligent stock systems to alert you when stocks are running low. In addition, these firms will provide the necessary paperwork both to you and your customers, offer quality control services, handle the inevitable returns and generally make something that could be a monumental headache look simple, smooth and streamlined.
Ecommerce companies are logistics specialists, skilled in delivering the right item to the right person at the right time. They will be able to handle the arrival of containers full of your new stock from around the world, organising the goods in their warehouse to ensure maximum efficiency of picking and packing. They will therefore also be able to handle orders of all sizes, from the householder needing three of something once in a blue moon to the larger company ordering in bulk for palletised delivery on an HGV. Some of them may well even be able to operate on your behalf if you own a company based elsewhere in the world, negating the need for a physical office location in the country. Now that’s bound to save money, especially if you want to try out a new market before committing to a branch there.
In addition, if you use one of these ecommerce specialist companies you can often take advantage of their status as bonded warehouses. That’s when a supplier buys in bulk and defers import duty and other payments on the goods by storing them until they are needed. Bulk ordering can occur because the exchange rate is in your favour as the purchaser, or because you are stocking up for a new season or a product launch. The ecommerce company then deals with all the paperwork at a suitable time, while you know that the stock for the season ahead is already here and ready to be shipped when needed.
Many ecommerce firms also offer a full customer service experience as well, so if you are operating outside the country where you are selling, that means your customers who ring in are dealing with people in their own language, based in their own country. Given many people’s attitude to overseas call centres this can only be a good thing, especially when paired with the cheaper ranges of goods which are so popular these days.
Companies like these keep courier, carrier and delivery firms in business, simply through the sheer volume of items leaving the warehouse on a daily basis, safely packed and correctly addressed to individuals. It is likely that the big ecommerce firms will have preferential postage or delivery rates negotiated with the big courier and mailing companies too, which will allow you to offer your customers the coveted free postage and packing option on goods over a certain value. No matter whether you are the hard-pressed customer service manager of a distributor selling through an eBay shop or someone who has a moderately successful online side to your bricks and mortar location, a dedicated ecommerce firm should be on your list of options to explore.