Why You Should Integrate Your Fulfillment Solution with Your Online Sales Channels
In some ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of retail upside-down; but in the case of eCommerce, the crisis has only augmented already accelerating online buying trends. From 2018 to 2019, online consumption in the US alone grew 14.9%, and the market share for online sales eclipsed general merchandise sales for the first time ever.
In 2020, the growth has been exponentially larger. Among TrueCommerce’s eCommerce platform users, online sales transactions were up more than 200% this April when compared with 2019. Amazon saw a 26% jump in Q1, with sales skyrocketing $15 billion dollars more than the first quarter of 2019. And grocery stores saw a 110% uptick between March and April alone.
This incredible increase in online shopping behavior has impacted every aspect of the eCommerce supply chain, but its influence on shipping and fulfillment has been of particular interest. In March, Amazon became so overwhelmed by orders that it was forced to limit warehouse goods acceptance to critical items. This left thousands of small businesses without Amazon fulfillment, which many relied upon to get their products to customers.
While marketplaces struggle to fulfill orders and meet their normally rapid delivery times, many companies have started creating their own storefronts. The benefits of eCommerce have helped these businesses stay strong despite brick-and-mortar closures, but fulfillment remains a top challenge, especially for those new to shipping direct-to-customer. If that’s not enough, while customers have been more lenient during this time of crisis, fast, free shipping continues to be at the top of consumer minds.
To put it all together, businesses today are navigating marketplace changes, many are creating their own storefronts for the first time, and some are facing the highest rates of online shopping ever, while trying to handle fulfillment that meets increased customer expectations. Keep in mind that many of these merchants have never had to handle fulfillment before (and definitely not at this scale).
So, what can manufacturers, drop shippers and retailers do to reduce stress on their business while meeting customer needs online? One solution is to integrate eCommerce channels with an integrated shipping solution.
How eCommerce Shipping Integration Works
When a product is purchased online, that eCommerce order needs to be processed, picked, packed, and shipped before getting to the customer. Handled manually, this process is highly labor-intensive, and riddled with the potential for costly errors.
eCommerce shipping integrations use connectivity and automation to streamline this process, while ensuring the accuracy and transparency you need to keep customers happy. Here’s a closer look at how integrating shipping software with your eCommerce channels can help you keep up with or even outpace the competition.
Sync Orders from Multiple Channels
Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, Houzz—there are hundreds of eCommerce marketplaces from which to choose. You may find yourself selling on multiple platforms, while also offering direct buying through your online storefront. Trying to keep track of all those orders can get overwhelming—fast.
Integrated eCommerce shipping software brings together orders from all your online channels into a single, unified platform. That way, you can manage all your orders in one place, without worrying about anything falling through the cracks. You’ll also be able to automatically consolidate orders from different channels based upon shipping dates and locations to save even more time and reduce your freight costs.
Save Time with Automation
In fulfillment, speed is paramount to keeping up with increasing order volumes. Integrated shipping accelerates fulfillment through a bevy of automated processes. Shipping label printing generates branded packing slips and compliant GS1-128 labels in seconds. Batch shipping allows businesses to process large order volumes at once, while pre-set rules flag problematic orders for review, so you don’t need to look at each one individually. With less time spent staring at a screen, your team has more time to spend on the floor, helping speed up the process even more.
Ship Products More Accurately
For customers, nothing is more frustrating than receiving the wrong product, or not receiving it at all, because it was shipped to the wrong location. Inaccurate shipping can lose a sale, lead to costly returns, and result in negative online reviews that impact your brand’s reputation.
Many of the shipping mistakes that occur during fulfillment come from human errors during manual data entry. It makes sense—if you’ve got 400 orders to get through, and you need to retype each incoming order into your shipping system, you’re bound to end up with some typos. Omnichannel integration eliminates these issues by syncing data directly from your order channels to your fulfillment solutions. No more carpal tunnel for your team, and no more mistakes on your orders.
Improve Fulfillment Transparency
During the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have learned to forgive long delivery times, delays and other fulfillment snafus caused by supply chain disruption. But one area where customer expectations haven’t wavered is transparency. Buyers want to know what’s happening with their order, from the time they check out to the time a box hits their doorstep.
Connecting your fulfillment solution to your eCommerce channels enables you to keep customers in the loop without wasting valuable time. From branded emails with tracking information, to up-to-the-minute order status updates, integrated shipping software makes it easy to give your customers a next-level shopping and shipping experience.
Scale Your eCommerce Business with Integrated Shipping
By integrating a fulfillment system with your eCommerce demand channels, you can accept and process eCommerce orders at scale, while reducing internal stressors, delays and mistakes. Such solutions give you the technological edge you need to provide an excellent customer experience across every digital order and are built with the flexibility to grow with you.
eCommerce sales might not keep growing at this tremendous rate, but the upward trend in online shopping will likely continue. The real goal is not just to manage those eCommerce orders but to get to a point where the obstacle becomes an advantage — where you’re not just keeping your head above water, but out-swimming the competition.
So, are you ready to dive in?
About the Author: Josh Wayne is Vice President of Commerce Products at TrueCommerce and a supply-chain expert with 17 years of experience developing integrations for shipping & fulfillment, eCommerce, EDI, and more. Today, he oversees Product and Implementation teams for our eCommerce platform, storefront integrations and multi-carrier shipping software. Josh lives in Columbus, OH, and in his spare time he is an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. When not at work or volunteering, you can find him out on his Harley or in the woods hiking and camping.