Despite the dramatic increase in e-commerce and its technologies in recent years, logistics is one of the aspects to be improved, especially in small and medium-sized online shops. Generally speaking, large companies that have stepped into the world of online sales and have done so successfully have been able to give due importance to logistics and transport within their business. In fact, this is a key aspect for the successful performance of the business.
Actually, e-commerce is a major challenge and an overly complex problem that cannot be solved following a traditional logistics model. E-commerce logistics has very specific needs that require customized solutions and flexibility.
We start from the premise that there are multiple platforms for e-commerce today. Businesses and entrepreneurs can choose whether to use free solutions (Prestashop, WooCommerce, etc.), private ones (Trilogi, etc.), or even SaaS solutions (Shopify, Tiendy, Jimdo, etc.).
Finding a universal solution adapted to the vast amount of existing platforms is no easy task. Perhaps this is the first barrier, but not the only problem to solve…
Major needs in e-commerce logistics
– The product is not sent to just one point, but it must reach every customer.
– Delivery problems can generate conflict with the customer: dissatisfaction, poor brand image, loss of customers, etc.
– Online stores should be aware that the cost derived from logistics influences and determines the profitability of many operations.
– In order to guarantee the service, it is essential to properly manage aspects such as the supplier selection, deadlines and after sales service, among others.
But if we go a little further, the complex logistic challenge presented by electronic commerce is paired with the demands of the new customer, willing to be able to track his/her order in real time, within extended hours and with a customized delivery service (schedules, different deadlines depending on urgency, costs, etc.), an efficient and effective returns management, and a good after sales service.
The so-called e-Logistics has 3 main factors:
This part of the process should include order picking systems focused on small orders; the ability to manage the stock efficiently; quality packaging; and reliable and effective systems of preparation, consigning, controlling and monitoring in real time.
Here we refer to the traceability of the distribution process; flexibility and quality in product delivery; international scope; urgency services, etc.
We need to have a reliable and accurate management of stocks; and efficient deadline plan; advanced management systems (real-time monitoring through radio frequency, route planning and optimization, tracking of goods, customer service, etc.) and the integration of logistics information systems in the online store.
To round up this information I invite you to read this article on Cloud Computing in the supply chain (http://ignasisayol.com/en/informatica-en-el-nuvol-cloud-computing-el-futur-de-la-cadena-de-subministrament/).
Some of the solutions adopted specifically by small and medium-sized businesses as we mentioned before are the deliveries in stores or designated centers, which can reduce costs for both the store and the customer and can generate brand confidence in starting businesses.
Logistics applied to the online store is a pivotal point of the business strategy. It is also the most important differentiator for a company that sells products online and no doubt it is still the greatest challenge when developing an e-commerce. Hence the importance of choosing a good provider of logistic services to avoid putting too much effort into something that is not their core business.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the importance of logistics in e-commerce brings about interesting initiatives like “Amazon Logistics”. The new Amazon Logistics service offers access to the distribution network and the Amazon customer service to all the external sellers using the company’s Marketplace platform. In this way small and medium businesses that generate products and services can have access to the world’s leading e-commerce logistics service.