Fulfilment, Logistics & Stock Management

Fulfilment, Logistics & Stock Management

Getting customers to your site and selling a product is just half the battle. Fulfilment is just as key.

Here’s a few thoughts and recommendations from the team at Venditan to round off the week…

  • Fast or free? Delivery options range – make sure you give the customer choice when it comes to cost and speed of service
  • Reliable – don’t get logistics wrong. It might not be quite as sexy as the front-end portion of your business – but get it right and you can save yourself a whole load of headaches and make the fulfillment process simpler for everyone
  • Invest in technology – stock management systems need to scale up as your business grows. As the volume of orders starts to increase you need to be sure that you are managing stock correctly – from goods in, to invoicing and packaging
  • DPD, Royal Mail, TNT, Parcel Force – the list of third party logistics/fulfillment/delivery companies is a long one. Shipping costs are a part of the business you can have a significant amount of control over. Do the research, understand your delivery offering and use the right services to ensure your margin isn’t squeezed
  • Amazon offer a fast, reliable and competitive fulfillment option. Send your stock to them and they’ll store it, sell it, pack it and ship it. Job done. Fulfilled by Amazon is a great opportunity if you’re looking to improve the service your customers receive while increasing revenue through a new stream
  • Yesterday. The most popular day of delivery – most customers would like their latest online purchase to be delivered to them as soon as feasibly possible. And they are willing to pay for it. Look for the fringe delivery services – for example, London Same Day delivery – not everyone will use it, but try and offer something that makes you stand out when it comes to fulfilling customer orders

Stephanie Fenton
11 June 2018

The Cost of Convenience: Can Your Business Afford Free Delivery?

The Cost of Convenience: Can Your Business Afford Free Delivery?

Consumer demands for delivery are blowing through the roof. Today’s online shoppers don’t just want hyper-convenient delivery and returns—they expect your business to provide them…

“The Amazon effect has raised everyone’s expectations about how fast products should arrive at our doorstep.” – PWC, Total Retail Survey 2017.

There’s no escaping it. E-Commerce businesses have to nail delivery.

Better delivery options are now the second biggest factor why consumers choose one online retailer over their competitors (KPMG). And high delivery costs are now the single biggest cause of basket abandonment at over 50% (MetaPack)…

What was once accepted as ordinary delivery times, now seems like a lifetime of unbearable delays.

But there’s a flipside. With convenient delivery in such high demand, getting it right can be a potent way to attract and convert consumers.

Fortunately, offering outstanding delivery isn’t as hard as it sounds…

Find your loophole

Too many e-tailers end up seeing decisions on delivery policy as a Catch-22—either you burn your margins trying to keep up with Amazon, or you refuse to play the game and lose all your sales to speedier competitors. It’s a tough one.

But there is a middle ground…

“A lot of the most effective strategies are far simpler than you’d expect. What retailers really need for competitive delivery isn’t just resources: it’s commitment too.”

– John Coyne, Venditan

Instead of committing to funding free delivery no matter the cost, smart retailers need to remember that details, partners and sheer work ethic go a very long way in this industry.

So here are 3 surprisingly simple strategies that will help you offer truly competitive delivery options, all while reducing costs and protecting margins.

1. Pick your partners

Outstanding delivery starts with the right partners.

Invest the time to take a hard look at your current suppliers. Are you really getting the best rates? Are you using their different service categories to full effect?

The key is to negotiate.

Remember, better rates from your courier usually comes down to the volume of shipments you’re processing. So if you’ve enjoyed recent revenue growth—and hence more shipments—pick up the phone, and check out the deals your current partners can offer.

If there’s nothing they can do, then it’s time to shop around and weigh up your options. Spending time and effort hunting for suppliers may feel like a distraction, but it’ll replay itself over and over if you can nail a better deal.

That said, we always recommend the Goldilocks principle in negotiations: look for a reasonable deal, not extremes. After all, the goal is getting a long-term partner.

The goal is getting a long term partner

2. Watch those margins

Don’t lose yourself in what other businesses are doing.

Amazon may be leading lights in consumers’ eyes, but the E-Commerce goliath also lost a colossal $7.2 billion on shipping in 2016, according to GeekWire analysis. Amazon, of course, have done their maths and know they can lean on their other services to make up the difference.

The example for other retailers is easy to spot. Get your calculations right, and if your business can’t afford to offer free delivery, don’t. Simple as that.

For example, we did work with Saltrock Surfwear to provide free standard delivery and collect+ for their customers—but only after making a serious and ongoing commitment to track and monitor their volumes and margins.

While the approach has drawn in major sales for their business, there are tightly specific cut off points: huge effort went into calculating margins and the right threshold for consumer spending before orders qualify.

The trick is once again commitment. First up, to getting your margin calculations right from the off. Second, putting aside time to keep tracking and adjusting on an ongoing basis.

Focus on what your business can offer, and you might just be surprised at how achievable some of those demanding delivery times may be.

3. Keep one eye on the clock

Offering a late cut off point for free next day delivery is simpler than most retailers expect.

The reality is many distribution centres are happy to take stock right up until 10pm if you take the time to ask them. You just have to make sure your staff can get down there and hand the stock over…

Instead of staffing your warehouse 8am till 2pm, staff it 4pm till 10pm. Recruiting staff for a later shift could equal a major customer convenience, helping to keep those demanding customers coming back.

Commit to convenience

Providing convenient delivery isn’t always exciting. Putting in tougher hours, keeping an eye on the margins, and spending time building smart relationships with suppliers all take time, effort and investment.

But get it right, and the rewards are yours to reap.

When consumers crave better delivery, handing it over is a sure fire way to beat out competitors and keep customers coming back for more.

Stephanie Fenton
2nd May 2018

5 Tips On How To Make The Dispatch Process More Efficient

5 Tips On How To Make The Dispatch Process More Efficient

Streamline your dispatch process, cut costs and improve customer service with our top tips.

With most retailers going into end-of-season sale this weekend, warehouse teams are likely to have a busy day next Wednesday! So this week we thought we’d talk about warehouse efficiency and what you can do to improve your dispatch process. If your business is feeling the pressure and struggling to get customer orders out on time, here are our 5 tips on how you can improve operations and increase efficiency moving forward…

1. Get Your Process Right​

To avoid confusion and prevent reporting errors, define your dispatch process and make sure everyone in the warehouse is following it. Make sure workflows are documented and that staff are provided with adequate training so that everyone is on the same page.

2. Picking Lists

Have your picking lists ready printed before the picking team arrive for work each day. This means that as soon as they arrive they can start picking. Our Venditan Commerce platform allows retailers to schedule the printing of picking lists for “can-ship” orders at certain times each day.

3. Warehouse Layout

Laying your inventory out in a more practical manner could save your warehouse staff huge amounts of time on a daily basis. There’s no single correct way to lay out a warehouse – it varies from retailer to retailer. A good starting point when planning a new layout for your warehouse is to make sure that quick movers are stored in easily accessible places close to the packing area. You could also consider storing products that are frequently sold together in close proximity.

Once you’ve decided on the best layout for your warehouse, it can be entered into our Venditan Commerce platform. This way picking lists can follow the most sensible and efficient route around the warehouse – saving your pickers from having to keep walking from one end of the warehouse to the other.

4. Courier Integration

By having direct integration between your ecommerce platform and chosen courier(s) you can save time that would otherwise be spent on manually entering tracking codes and delivery addresses. Barcoded labels can automatically be printed and tracking codes assigned to orders. Your platform can also automatically send shipping manifests to couriers so that they know what needs collecting each day.

5. Improve Picking Accuracy With Handheld Scanners

Handheld scanners can really help when it comes to picking – taking away a lot of the human error which comes into play when performing repetitive tasks. They allow the team to scan as they pick so as not to grab the wrong colour or a style that may have been accidentally placed in the incorrect bin.

Venditan Commerce “Pack Check™” allows the picking team to double check items against invoices using scanners at the packaging area. Once the system confirms that all items from the order are present and correct, the invoice and barcoded shipping label are automatically printed ready for dispatch.

Get in touch to discuss how the features available within Venditan Commerce could help you to streamline your operation. Please call John or Chris on: +44(0)161 826 3090 or email us at: startyourjourney@venditan.com

Stephanie Fenton
22 Dec 2017

Reducing Online Returns – What Can Fashion Retailers Do?

Reducing Online Returns – What Can Fashion Retailers Do?

In a competitive online market, how you handle online returns can be a key differentiator between you and the competition, but still it remains one of the more difficult areas of eCommerce customer service to get right.

How helpful, quick, simple and flexible your returns policy is can be the difference between gaining repeat customers and sending them into the arms of a competitor. Making the returns process as painless as possible is one thing, but what if you could actually reduce the number of goods sent back to you in the first place? Surely this is the ideal situation?

One sector with a high number of returns compared to others is fashion retail. There are now solutions on the market that enable retailers to help their customers choose the right fit, saving them the hassle of trial and error online ordering and the potential frustration of purchasing the wrong size.

Some examples from across the industry are:

ASOS – Virtusize

US retailers report return rates of between 20 and 40 percent for online sales*, with wrong size and poor fit being cited as the number one reason for returning goods. On top of that, nearly 75% of retailers cover the cost of delivery and/or returns – an expensive exercise if return rates are high.

ASOS offer customers free shipping and free returns, allowing them to give customers the ‘changing room experience’ at home – essentially ‘buy and try’. But it all costs money.

The online fashion giant has reduced fit-related returns by almost 50% with the introduction of a virtual fitting solution, Virtusize. This allows customers to compare measurements of an item they are looking to buy with an item they already own – displaying 2D silhouettes of both garments so customers can accurately compare and contrast sizes. Although many people are still taking advantage of the free shipping and returns, integrating a tool such as Virtusize helps to inspire confidence during the purchasing process.

One extra selling point for Virtusize is that once a user has an account and uploads garment templates, they can use the saved images on any retail site that has the tool.

Running Warehouse – Shoefitr

Running Warehouse, has managed to reduce fit-related returns by up to 23% with the introduction of an app which allows customers to find out more accurate information about shoe sizes. They are already seeing a high percentage of orders coming from customers who have utilised the Shoefitr app, using a database of internal shoe measurements acquired using 3D imaging.

The app compares the size and shape of a shoe a shopper is currently wearing with the one they want to purchase. It then recommends the best size and offers the customer more details about the shoe fit, comparing it with other sizes.

House Of Fraser – True Fit

One of the UK’s leading department stores now uses a sizing tool, True Fit, as part of a redesigned touch-screen optimised site. With a significant volume of traffic coming from mobile devices, House of Fraser adapted its strategy to a ‘mobile-first’ approach, including the addition of True Fit in order to help decrease fit-related returns and issues.

Once True Fit was integrated into the House of Fraser site, customers filled in the details of their size, weight, body shape and other measurements. True Fit then uses that data to make a recommendation of the size that’s best suited to that individual. Importantly, from a customer UX perspective, this size then appears on subsequent product pages meaning customers are directed to the right fit as they shop.

Sojeans – Soselect

 

Sojeans integrated sizing tool, Soselect, offers customers a size profiling interface that produces personalised product recommendations.

In just four clicks, users of the site are able to find a perfect pair of jeans in terms of shape and style. Soselect asks for basic details of height and weight and then some more specific body shape questions. A smart addition to the tool then asks users to select what type of shoes they wear, further helping the site to give an informed and targeted product search result.

Some experts have noted that the tool is great for customers who have a ‘price is no object’ approach to online shopping. If the 100% shape and style fit is too expensive but a less suitable pair is in the right price range, then Soselect essentially becomes obsolete. However, if free delivery/returns is offered in conjunction, then it may be the case that customers purchase two or three different styles and sizes across a range of prices to find the best option.

With competition in the online fashion sector at a very high level, it’s important that customers have a simple and cheap way of returning goods that don’t quite match their expectations from a fit perspective. But the importance of repeat business is obvious and assisting customers with regards to sizing and fit during their purchasing journey can only help in reducing returns and increasing customer satisfaction. ‘Getting it right’ for customers is key to ensuring they continue to spend money on your site and with high expectations in terms of site performance and post-purchase customer service, user experience in fashion retail now includes making it simpler and easier to find a product that’s the right size and shape.

*Econsultancy – https://econsultancy.com/blog/65026-how-fashion-ecommerce-retailers-can-reduce-online-returns/

Stephanie Fenton
22nd May 2017