Nothing makes a consumer happier than receiving his order on time, at the right place, and with satisfying quality. While offline retailer offloads the goods as soon as payment is received, online players don’t have things served in platter, as for them, fulfilment is a challenge as well as key to keep customers coming back.
It has been barely a decade when India was first exposed to the digital market. Now when eCommerce is carving niche for itself, fulfilment is one of the major concerns along with payment modes, quality of product etc.
Right from the warehouse shelf, to the pack station and shipment desk to ultimately the customer’s doorstep, a retailer’s fulfilment operations have a critical impact on the consumer buying experience. Even a retailer’s most basic order fulfilment processes are becoming more customer-centric and emphasis is on reducing the rate of returns and shipment time, which was the talk of session during Indian e-Retail Congress 2015.
While the retailers are moving from cards to e-wallet and m-wallet, consumers are still glued to COD as preferred mode of payment. Commenting on this prevalent trend of COD, Hitendra Chaturvedi, Founder & Managing Director, GreenDust.com, “COD part exists because of lack of trust in India. We see return rates as higher as 40 per cent, but the trend of COD is going to die a natural death over a period of time.”
“Return rates in India are though high because we are still in the trial and error mode. Global ecommerce return rates are around 10 to 12 per cent, India is around 15 per cent excluding COD,” he further added.
While COD is extremely high for grocery and FMCG category, the return rates are comparatively lower than other segments, reason being the trust and uniformity of the product. Speaking on similar sidelines, Abhinay Choudhari, CEO & Co-Founder, BigBasket.com, said, “In our category, we have very high COD than anybody else (around 40 per cent), but return percentage is far low than generic eCommerce players. We have lower than 1 per cent returns. A lot of people are mentally comfortable paying after they receive the products.”
Urban & rural retailing
While emphasising on the rift between consumer mindset in urban and rural areas, Vineet Pandey, Chief General Manager- Business Development & Marketing Directorate, India Post opined, “In metros where people are comfortable with their cards, COD is not an issue, but in Tier II and Tier III cities, it is going to stay for some time. Return rates will come down gradually as because person may order out of curiosity sometime and the time lag between actual payment is also a reason for increased return rates.”
In international markets, there is no cash-on-delivery or post-paid model available. Though, with prepaid, retailers sometime get into a bit of payment collection and chargeback problems, but those are very universal kind of issues.