New software on one day, a new service provider the next – in our increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the growing range of business applications and points of contact is getting ever more confusing. Instead of having users log in just once, solutions such as transport management systems (TMS), supply chain management (SCM) and warehouse management ask for usernames and passwords time and again. It’s not easy to always have the right telephone number or email address to hand when there’s a problem with shipping to a certain destination country, or a pallet can’t be traced. There’s still a huge amount of potential in the shipping business for ensuring leaner operations, cost savings and improved customer experience (CX). The challenge now is to unlock this potential. Online stores would do well to streamline their shipping, and focus on a single point of contact. The following recommendations show how this is both useful and urgently needed in these times of increasing competitive pressure and globalization.
Rising electricity, petrol, material and personnel costs, as well as increasingly complex workflows, are making it difficult for companies involved in e-commerce to compete. It’s important for them to find ways to streamline and centralize processes, and to increase transparency. According to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, the global volume of parcels could rise to a figure of up to 316 billion by 2026. While this can be regarded as a success story for global e-commerce, the immense growth also poses huge challenges for the players in the industry, as processes become increasingly complex. The bigger the volume and the more countries are added, the more communication required by online stores and e-commerce players. This in turn entails more work vis-à-vis storing and analyzing data, negotiating contracts, hiring and managing staff and acquiring and retaining customers. The additional costs associated with this development may need to be passed on to the customer in the future, for example by charging for delivery. This can only be a small part of the solution, if at all, as many customers choose an online store based on precisely this delivery cost aspect, as shown by a YouGov survey commissioned by Seven Senders, in which 55 percent of those surveyed mentioned delivery costs as a key factor in their choice of an online store. So what are the other options for cutting costs and streamlining processes?
The reality is that seamless international shipping processes will ensure fewer points of contact and allow e-tailers to rely on various local carriers (ideally a carrier network), contacts and infrastructure, contract agreements and better conditions through the bundling of shipping volumes of several stores and via direct injection. In turn, this will enable them to save money and become more efficient. When it comes to optimizing shipping, streamlining processes and reducing costs in online shipping, it is important to do the following:
1. Take national delivery preferences and shipping features into account
A central point of contact with a local carrier network provides online retailers with a shipping partner who knows the local market and can respond to its specific features. Parcel stores are popular in France, for example, but hardly used in the UK, and return preferences also vary from one country to another. Comprehensive knowledge of the specific markets helps to find the right partner, as well as the logistics service best suited to a specific business model. Instead of relying on an expensive all-rounder, the Seven Senders delivery platform helps users to choose a partner that meets their needs among the various carriers, in order to reduce the points of contact and the work involved, and to benefit from contract conditions and services such as labeling. An optimal carrier mix can enable traders to cut delivery costs in parcel shipping by up to 30 percent. All shipping processes are managed centrally via the platform. And regardless of whether it’s a case of choosing the right carrier, creating labels or organizing returns, the shipping services involved can optimize their processes from check-out to delivery and help save costs. Seven Senders uses a single interface to connect an online store with its delivery platform, and thereby with over 100 last-mile carriers that meet the precise requirements of the target market. E-tailers benefit from standardized processes in all the countries in which they operate, and this also means receiving a single invoice for all the carriers delivering shipments throughout Europe on their behalf. Another advantage is that direct injection into the local delivery network allows for additional delivery time savings of up to 35 percent. Customer expectations in terms of carbon-neutral shipping can also be met by offsetting the emissions for each country and each shipment with 7SGreen.
2. Make use of helpful and reliable software tools
When customers don’t know the whereabouts of their order and the customer service department is inundated with phone calls and emails, it’s clear that customer communication urgently needs to be automated and optimized. With a partner who consolidates all international shipping processes, tracking and notifications are standardized for customers and carriers alike – in the respective national language and individual store design. Ideally, important performance data such as delivery times or delays will be summarized for all countries, carriers and services in an analysis tool and dashboard to provide an even clearer overview: online stores and logistics managers will be able to view all shipping information quickly and easily in one place, and will no longer have to consult different systems or contact different people. Proactive and transparent customer communication plus data overview for staff, with everything in one place. All important documents, including contracts and invoices, can also be stored and accessed here. Clear presentation allows for easy verification of invoices and the analysis of relevant contract parameters. A centralized document filing system also provides a better insight into business-relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), and allows for data-driven performance measurements – the best starting point for lean communication and greater transparency throughout the shipping process.
3. Think about a well-oiled returns process
Like it or not, customers will sometimes want to return the goods they ordered. For the sake of the customer experience and the resale rate, as well as to save on costs, the returns process should be as automated and simple as possible. A returns portal integrated directly into the store is valuable in this regard, as it enables customers to generate labels independently, thereby minimizing the costs for label production and reducing the burden on the environment. Ideally, returns should be sent to the national hub of the last-mile carrier and consolidated, before being returned directly to the sender’s warehouse. A central delivery partner like Seven Senders can provide comprehensive support in all of these areas, helping to lighten the load and cut costs and enable e-tailers to focus on the core activities of their business.