It’s a situation that many small and medium retailers find themselves in. They want to scale their business but certain delivery challenges prevent them from making any progress. In spite of the fact that they’ve built up brand trust amongst their customer base and sales are steady, shipping and delivery challenges mean that expansion keeps getting pushed down the road.
However, the most common scaling issues can be overcome. Retailers and brands just need to have access to the right tools in order to put their expansion strategy into practice.
Cross border complexities
THE CHALLENGE: Breaking into new markets is often viewed as the ultimate ambition for a brand. The good news is that online retail demand, from both EU and non-EU shoppers, is growing. However, Brexit has caused a lot of cross-border friction, and the cost of shipping goods to and from the UK has surged. International tax regulations, cross-border sales, and consumer use tax all need to be considered when expanding into new territories. In order for brands to succeed, they need to seamlessly incorporate these elements into a user-friendly checkout process.
Over the past two years, disruption to cross-border trade has also meant that retailers face lengthy delays to move their goods. This makes it more difficult to provide a positive customer experience, particularly around deliveries. If brands are going to sell to multiple markets, it’s not only important to have inventory updated in real-time, but also vital to have clear international delivery and returns policies highlighted across their online stores.
Retailers need to understand the cultural nuances surrounding local delivery. For instance, in many European countries, cash-on-delivery is a popular method of payment, so it’s important for retailers to have delivery partners that will be able to facilitate this.
THE SOLUTION: Technology is the answer to meeting customer needs on an international scale Thanks to eCommerce Delivery Management software, brands can expand into new markets easier and quicker than you might think.
Retailers can use fulfilment centres in the regions they are expanding into, and partner up with local carriers to ensure quicker deliveries than if they were to ship from one centralised warehouse. Software can automatically generate customs documents as part of delivery labels, so it doesn’t even require any further printing by staff – good news for brands who are moving towards more sustainable operations.
Reliance on a single carrier
THE CHALLENGE: More sales = higher delivery volumes. If a retailer works with a single carrier and wants to break into a new market or add a new product category to their offering, lack of carrier flexibility can really hinder their efforts. While having a strong partnership with a carrier is important, there’s no denying that having just one carrier is risky business. If capacity limits are reached, brands may not be able to fulfil greater order volumes.
Furthermore, with a single carrier, retailers could be missing the most competitive shipping rates on the market, and may also be limited in terms of the delivery options that they can offer to customers – which has a profound impact on the overall customer experience. Let’s not forget that 83% of consumers expect to be provided with a range of delivery speeds.
THE SOLUTION: There’s no such thing as one size fits all where deliveries are involved. If brands want to expand, they need to consider having multiple carriers in place to manage their networks and customer expectations effectively.
With the right technology solution, retailers have the ability to add or remove delivery options depending on capacity. This enables them to provide the range of services their customers want, but have the ability to turn delivery options off with one carrier and switch to another should capacity become an issue. With the current shipping crisis, adapting fast is the backbone to the challenging times that still lie ahead. Retailers always have to ensure they have the flexibility, agility and correct contingency plans in place.
Lack of resources
THE CHALLENGE: Often the greatest thing that stops online retailers from scaling their business (or even thinking about scaling their business) is that they are caught up in day to day tasks. Shipment preparation is one of the most time-consuming functions for online brands. On average, it can take one minute to input label data for a single order into a system. Add to this different printing specifications for different carriers, as well as customs or any other supporting documentation and retailers would need to grow their headcount to keep up with increased sales.
Among other delivery challenges for brands that want to scale but are struggling to get out of the gate is limited access to sufficient reporting. Without having a full view of their delivery data, including transit time, carrier rates, and tracking, retailers simply won’t have the insight they need to devise effective expansion strategies.
THE SOLUTION: A brand’s growth should never be stunted because of time (or lack thereof). Taking something like labels that can be excessively time-consuming for retailers. Adopting the right kind of technology can reduce the time it takes to input a label from one minute to one second. Retailers also shouldn’t need to have multiple printers set up to print labels for all of the various shipping carriers they use. When shipment preparation is streamlined, it not only increases bandwidth in terms of how many orders a brand can handle, but it frees up resources. Instead of focusing on have repetitive tasks, resources can be focused on more growth-focused functions.
Sophisticated reporting also enables retailers who are keen to expand to audit their delivery process. Reporting identifies seasonal, geographic, rate cost, and trends that are specific to their business. There are always multiple stakeholders, all with different opinions about how a brand should expand. However, the most valued point of view should be the one that a brand’s data is telling them. Great reporting helps to tease out the data. It gives you the intelligence to solve delivery challenges, and can help to successfully scale a business.
While there are many considerations that online retailers need to make in order to successfully expand their business, technology is the ultimate gateway for growth.