Have you noticed that e-commerce has completely different demands on your logistical process than traditional trade? And does this put your performance under pressure? We will tell you where the obstacles arise and how to solve them effectively, so that you will have a smoother logistics process and more satisfied customers.
Fast and reliable delivery
Speed and flexibility are of great importance. Especially in the B2C market, next-day delivery is the standard. If you can’t keep up, you’re already down 1-0. Because online it’s easy to find a supplier who does deliver within one day. Those who can deliver faster and at lower delivery costs than their competitors therefore hold an important competitive advantage. The lead time of orders is therefore under enormous pressure.
Running a webshop ‘on the side’ is often only successful for a short time
Unfortunately, webshops sometimes collapse under their own success. Many B2B entrepreneurs start a webshop alongside their regular business. It are often smaller orders, the quantities are not that high, so they can easily cope with them in the warehouse. Until the webshop really starts to do well and the number of small orders multiplies. The regular expedition is put under pressure and if your logistic process is not sufficiently coordinated with this, things will unfortunately go wrong.
The annoyances of a logistics process that is not optimally designed
The demands are increasing, with regular processing times being too long and the number of transfer points soon being seen as too many. In order to speed up the process, more and more things quickly go wrong. Performance declines. Customers are fed up with incorrect or damaged deliveries or lost parcels. Another important customer complaint: too much air in the packaging. This is often the case, especially for small orders. Lack of clarity about the order status is also a major shortcoming online. These are all factors which immediately cause customers to stop shopping.
5 key points to align your logistics process with your e-commerce
The efficiency of the supply chain operation is an important factor in profitability. Not only to continue to support the continuous growth, but also to keep the margins up. This efficiency drive is mainly related to digitisation, automation, Big Data optimisation and simplification of processes. We give you 5 points of attention to better tune your logistics process.
1. Get your master data right
The basis for optimisation is insight into all product data. You should therefore create a database in your ERP or WMS system containing the dimensions of all packaged products in your warehouse. Ensure that this database is and remains up-to-date. This will help you save costs and get a more efficient process. If the order picker chooses the packaging, he will quickly go for a larger size. Just fill it up and send it off. With a programme such as StackAssist, you automate the choice of packaging. The order picker is guaranteed to work with the correct packaging size. You send less air and save on filling materials and cardboard. You can only achieve this if your master data is in order.
2. Make your processes more efficient
A more efficient process greatly reduces the handling costs per order, especially for low value products. For example, you can shorten the logistics process by eliminating a number of steps. For example, with the pick-in-the-box principle. The order picker takes the correct shipping packaging and collects all the products that are part of the order in it. The box then goes straight through a ‘standard’ tapping machine, saving you a time-consuming packing step. Or you can make the process more efficient by having several orders picked at once, in a so-called wave picking or pick-to-light process. With automation, this efficiency improvement is easy to realise, because the employee gets the right overview. If you also combine this with the pick-in-the-box process, then you are on the right track. What you do need to pay extra attention to with process changes, is creating support among your employees. A change in processes can sometimes feel as a threat and therefore meet with resistance.
3. Transparent process for the customer
The customer does not know exactly who he is ordering from online. Transparency is indispensable to build up trust. The automation of your process gives you a lot of valuable information. Share that information with your customer! A correct confirmation of the number of products, the price and the delivery date is the minimum transparency the customer expects when ordering online. However, you can improve the customer experience even further. For example, in the B2B market, by visualising in the order confirmation that the pallet is only half loaded. For the customer, this is an opportunity to order extra products and thus reduce the transport costs per product. For you, a great sales opportunity. If you supply an overview with the exact location of all the products on the pallet, you offer the customer greater convenience when booking the articles. He will certainly appreciate that.
4. Integrate all customer requirements into your process
An important efficiency improvement is possible if you tackle the customer requirements individually. If you supply consumer products, then it often happens that you also supply a large intermediary trade. These large parties often each have their own specifications. A maximum pallet height of 1.60 metres, or 1.70 metres. For your logistics process, it may seem smart to group all those specifications together and apply the strictest standard to all your customers. For example, by working with a maximum pallet height of 1.60 metres as standard for all your customers. But is that really smart if the majority of your customers do not ask for it at all? There are applications that allow you to integrate all these customer requirements into your logistics process separately. Such an application automatically indicates which specifications an order picker must take into account for a certain delivery address. This customisation can save you a lot of transport costs.
5. Integrate packaging management into your logistics process
The shipping packaging is inseparably linked to logistics and efficiency in the e-commerce supply chain, but also to the image of your company.
Your packaging is the first customer contact, so make sure you make the best impression! For example, when delivering to consumers, also consider returns when choosing the packaging. A plastic bag is a good packaging for clothing, as long as it has a resealable strip. Otherwise, the customer will open the bag and it will no longer be usable for the return shipment. Also include a return label with a barcode. In this way, you make a return easier to handle for both the customer and yourself and you also show that you think along with the customer.
The right packaging can make the difference. Yet packaging is often seen as the closing item. Both in the decision-making process and in the budget. Packaging management ensures:
- A smaller range of packaging (fewer variations)
- A more efficient logistics process
- Less air in packaging
- A better appearance to the customer
Logistics handling requires continuous improvement
Supply Chain is dynamic and demands constant improvement. You are in a rat race, where the smallest detail can make the difference. Speed and reliability, that is what matters. So this process improvement is certainly not a one-off exercise. Keep collecting and analysing data to continuously improve the process. Your product range changes, your customer base grows, everything has an impact on your logistics process. And on the ideal mix in packaging.
Is your e-commerce business also growing fast?
Is your logistics process under considerable pressure from your online business? Time for a new strategy. Of course we are happy to help. Leave your comment or question in the form below or contact us directly.