Logistics Of Online Sales
Recently we asked the question “Should you have an online store?”. If your answer was yes, then you need to take the next step and start considering some of the logistics involved. Sometimes business owners are so excited by the thought of making online sales that they neglect to plan their setup before they begin. You can imagine what happens when the first order comes in. It’s chaos.
So let’s consider some of the logistics that can be overlooked in the excitement.
1. Stock: You already have a supplier because you sell to your face-to-face clients but will you need to order more to cover for potential orders? Where will you store these items and what will you do with them if they don’t sell? You may have a brick and mortar store to sell from but if you don’t, you may need to look for alternative clearance methods.
2. Order processing: Your ecommerce site will accept orders for you and process the payment using your chosen method. What happens next? You or your team need to be notified of the sale so you can pack and despatch the delivery. How will you be notified and who should be in charge of processing and packing the orders? Your reputation relies on accurate picking and fast despatch of each order. You may need to design a system to manage order processing.
3. Use an external service: If you believe you will be a hit online, it’s possible that you won’t be able to manage your stock and orders from your present premises. You may need to use an external logistics centre to store your stock and manage your shipping process for you. What services are available that you could access?
4. Packaging and branding: This is where you can make a great impression and leave your branding imprinted firmly in your customer’s memory. How can you package your product so that it looks amazing and is clearly branded in your colours and with your logo? Remember that your packaging will affect the cost of postage or delivery, so factor that into your design and costing process.
5. Delivery: How will you despatch your orders? Should you choose Australia Post or a private delivery service? Which system is best for preventing loss or damage to the delivery or, in the worst case, reimbursing you when necessary?
6. Customer service: The order process doesn’t end with the despatch of the item. Quite often a customer will need to contact you to ask questions or check on the status of the order. How will you handle customer calls so that you provide exceptional customer service while you monitor their feedback, good or bad?
Before starting to build your ecommerce site, you will need to know the answers to these questions.
One word of advice – plan big. Assume you are going to be very busy and build your systems to meet that level of demand. That way you will be able to deliver quality service now and as you grow.