E-commerce is filling the gap for people who prefer not to wait in long checkout lines, find parking and sift through items. Moreover, it will continue to be a lucrative market for business owners: e-commerce is projected to generate over 490 billion in sales by 2018. Unfortunately for e-commerce business owners, customers who are used to the convenience of online shopping have high expectations about other parts of the process. Among other expectations, customers want to receive packages with a quick turnaround and have access to 24/7 communication with the seller. These consumer demands have driven competition among e-retailers.
Here are just a few of the struggles businesses are facing with the shift to e-commerce:
- Product storage: E-commerce businesses may begin with few operating costs, as they work out of a small space and use few, if any, employees. Growth and success are great for business, but once a store starts moving a certain volume of inventory, it requires a larger team and storage space. In order to make sure that orders are fulfilled and customers remain satisfied and loyal, e-commerce business owners need to put money into warehouse space and staff. Investing in staff means paying salaries, benefits and insurance, which can seriously cut into revenues. Managing a warehouse cuts in to the time that business owners should be spending on managing the store. Paying rent and staff can get even trickier when e-commerce businesses experience seasonal sales cycles.
- Managing inventory: Inventory management involves handling returns, updating new products, making adjustments and conducting regular counts; this is a complex, time-consuming process. Anticipating demand is an inexact science and orders can come in quickly, making it difficult to keep up with inventory. This can lead to the problems of overselling and creating backorders.Today, it is necessary for any modern business to sell inventory through multiple channels (sites like Amazon, Shopify, etc.) in order to appeal to the widest group of customers, who all have their preferred shopping website. However, selling via multiple channels can make it even more difficult to manage and monitor inventory.
- Shipping: These days, customers expect quick delivery, tracking options and simple return policies. While it is easy for a handful of very large e-commerce “giants” to fulfill these demands consistently, it is sometimes challenging for busy, average-size stores to follow suit, resulting in a struggle to attract and keep customers.For simplicity’s sake, many smaller retailers rely on one carrier; however, shipping costs and carrier options can be a make or break factor for online shoppers. Many will abandon their shopping carts if costs are too high or if their preferred carrier is not available.
- Packing: For e-commerce retailers, packing orders involves a big investment in time and materials. Orders come in all sizes, so e-commerce retailers need to be stocked with the right kind of packaging materials. Packing also requires retailers to ensure against damage to products, which can hurt revenue and customer satisfaction levels.
- Customer support: Customers expect to have quick answers to their questions about orders and products so businesses need to be ready to return their calls or emails. When you are busy running your business, it is easy to miss calls and emails from customers. Unfortunately, this customer support deficit can lead to bad reviews that can seriously affect business.
Phase V: Your E-Commerce Solution
The easiest and most effective solution to these problems is to outsource the fulfillment process to a third-party logistics provider such as Phase V, which offers an all in one, end-to-end means of handling your ordering and shipping needs. Phase V offers secure, humidity controlled and ambient temperature-controlled warehouse storage and state-of-the-art order fulfillment software that seamlessly integrate with your store’s online shopping cart. Phase V’s services cover order processing, storage, fulfillment, packaging, shipping, order tracking, 24/7 customer support and returns. Here are just a few of the many ways that Phase V helps your e-commerce business by solving the problems listed above:
- Product storage: When you work with Phase V, you outsource warehouse space and services, so there is no need deal with the costs of renting, operating, managing and staffing a warehouse.
- Managing inventory: Phase V’s order fulfillment software uses real-time inventory management systems that are integrated with your shopping cart. Phase V’s software is compatible with a number of commonly used e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Shopify; payment methods such as PayPal; and carriers including UPS, FedEx, and USPS, to name just a few. If your preferred platforms are not listed among the many we are currently integrated with, no problem! We can work to customize our services according to your unique needs.With the help of Phase V’s inventory management systems, you will avoid costly backorders and make multi-channel fulfillment a simple process. Phase V’s software also provides alerts that notify you well in advance when an item needs to be restocked.
- Shipping: Phase V works with a number of shipping companies, so we’re prepared to help you provide your customers with a variety of shipping and provider options. Our warehouse’s large volume of shipments means lower shipping costs for your customers. With our automated tracking, you and your customers will be able to track packages as soon as they ship, and packages will always arrive exactly on time.
- Packing: Phase V passes the savings on packaging materials on to you, and our highly trained warehouse associates guarantee that your items are safely and efficiently packaged to ensure against any product damage. We can customize according to your branding needs.
- Customer support: If your customers have questions about their orders or products, they can contact Phase V directly, 24/7. With easy access and quality customer service, your customers will be happy and you will have the extra time to grow your business.
Collaborating with Phase V provides an easy and cost-effective solution to your e-commerce challenges. Excellent customer experiences will ensure that customers return to do business with you in the future. With Phase V’s help, you will be able to focus on growing your business as we work together to make your e-commerce store stand out among the competition.