The Best E-commerce Shipping Solutions Available Today
Table Of Contents
- Tech to the rescue
- Enhanced customer service as a solution
- Turning shipping into a selling point
- Ripples are causing waves in today's global supply chain
- Making the best out of a shipping crisis
Over the past 100 years, things have changed a lot in the world of shipping.
Market demands and trends constantly change, and supply chains have had to adapt. E-commerce retailers need to keep up amid a shipping environment as volatile as it is relentlessly demanding.
But how did we get here? And how can we adapt to the back-breaking speed of change?
Read About CBIP's E-commerce Logistics Solutions
If shipping has experienced so many improvements in the past century, why are we still tackling inefficiencies in supply chains?
Modern shipping really kicked into gear after World War II. What put it to the test? Massive amounts of boxes of supplies had to be sent to troops overseas. At that time, these individual shipments took four weeks to cross the Atlantic. Packing and unloading boxes from trucks, then getting them all securely onto a ship for transport across the ocean was an enormous amount of work.
But in the 1950s, the introduction of containers changed everything. Transporting high volumes of goods all over the world was suddenly possible — and affordable. 20th-century retail relied on sending large quantities to stores and stocking them on shelves; customers then did the last mile of legwork themselves by actually stepping into stores. (Sounds pretty old-fashioned, right?)
Nowadays, this large retail model still exists, but it makes up a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. E-commerce retail sales, on the other hand, have has exploded in the last few years.
But with the rise of e-commerce comes a new challenge to shipping efficiency: Delivering countless small packages all over the world. The earlier stages of your supply chain may be pretty efficient, but that all goes out the window once the final parcels leave the warehouse. This so-called “last mile” of shipping — from the warehouse to the end customer — is by nature incredibly inefficient.
So the question becomes, how do we make this extremely inefficient delivery process better? You need to closely manage every last aspect of your shipment, and interact with your end customer all the while.
Tech to the rescue
Managing hundreds of moving parts at once is impossible without the right technologies. This means investing in cutting-edge software to keep track of everything and optimize your operations. It might even mean the adoption of certain robots to step in on those tedious, labor-intensive tasks.
Below are just some of the options you have to choose from in terms of tech:
- Warehouse management systems
- Integrated shipping platform
- Autonomous pick and pack systems
- Internet of things
- AI and Machine learning
The time is now to deploy tech and keep up with customers’ ever-changing expectations. But, like anything, you need to be careful to only bite off what you can chew when it comes to adopting new supply chain tech.
Related: Want to see what new tech can really do for modern logistics operations? Check out our blog post on automation and AI.
Enhanced customer service as a solution
What’s different about consumer tastes now compared to 20 years ago?
Preferences change with every season, every year, and every catalyst event in the world. This has always been the case, and something the market has always had to both plan for and react to. Yet the differentiator for modern consumers is the sheer amount of options at hand. In such a crowded market, how can individual retailers stand out? Consumers shopping online are likely to choose one shopping experience over the other based on two factors:
- Ability to immediately contact someone who can assist them with any product issue
- How quickly they want their package to arrive at their doorstep
The high level of interaction today’s customer expects when they order something online means that e-commerce companies have shifted focus to customer service. To provide personalization, online retailers have had to reimagine how their customer service operations are structured. Specialized teams of marketing, fulfillment, web design, and tech development professionals are needed just to see to it that customers receive their shipments on time — and that those customers can return the product if not satisfied.
Turning shipping into a selling point
Today, pretty much anyone can become an online merchant. And the expectation is that if you can find a product on the web, you can have it shipped from anywhere in the world.
This means that e-commerce retailers need to decide how to price shipping, which presents an important tradeoff. While the inexpensive carriers are unreliable and may lose packages, pricier options may cause potential customers to balk at shipping costs and abandon their cart at the last minute.
Offering the right options is key. Moreover, knowing who your customers are (not to mention knowing your options for carriers) is paramount to success.
Ripples are causing waves in today's global supply chain
The containerization revolution in mid-20th century shipping ushered in a new era of global commerce. The nature of today’s interconnected global supply chain also makes it much more vulnerable to widespread crises than in the past.
Let's look at why modern supply chains are so sensitive to shocks. Consider the three following examples of events causing huge ripples, all stemming from COVID-19.
High competition for space on container ships
Assets like containers ships are filled to high capacities even during normal times. This is because there aren’t many operators worldwide and ocean shipping is still a driver of global trade. So when demand spikes to even higher levels than usual, securing space on that ocean line — particularly when they don't die down as expected.
Unexpected port closures
You can’t get goods across the ocean without a starting point; when port availability is in flux, the consequences add up quickly. Take the Ningbo Port, for instance. China’s zero-COVID policy meant that this major shipping point, which serves Shanghai, closed after a single case of covid-19 was found among the workers.
A widespread labor shortage
Shortages of truck drivers and factory workers mean that products may sit in ports or factories simply because there are not enough hands to push them out
Pair all these events with an ever-rising demand spike and you get a shipping environment that’s uncertain and messy.
Making the best out of a shipping crisis
Volatility and challenges surround today’s shipping industry, but those obstacles also highlight an opportunity. There’s never been a better time to establish close lines of contact with your end customers. With better service capabilities, shipping no longer needs to be impersonal.
If managed correctly, this retail environment has enormous benefits for retailers and customers alike. But it can still be difficult to manage all the steps while adopting the right technologies and keeping up with new demand in real-time.
That’s why you need a strategic partner to get it right. At CBIP, we help all kinds of online retailers by providing them with tailor-made logistics programs. With an integrated online platform and on-the-ground staff around the world, we help you expand while maintaining full visibility.
Ready to find out how CBIP can help you level up your shipping this year? Give us a call today and chat with one of our experts.