For business owners especially the small ones selling goods online is the ultimate dream. Delivering goods online is the key to success as far as online business in concerned. Order fulfillment is the most important aspect of building any omni-channel/ e-commerce business. Each business needs its own set of logistics arrangement as far as fulfilment is concerned, what is working for footwear category may not be viable for medicine. Each business is unique so does it challenges. The article sheds light on key parameters which are absolute dos’ of order fulfillment considering various businesses.
Make warehouses Future-Ready
With growing share of technology going conventional is not enough. Two-day delivery has shrunk into instant. In fact, the product delivery time has reduced from two to three days to beyond our imagination. The time has arrived when retailers have to go innovative and explore new boundaries each day. Quoting a personal example Rahul Mehra, Chairman and Founder, AWL India informed,” There are new avenues knocking our door each day. Recently I got a call from PE investor enquiring about if we can customize entire product at our 3PL facility. His intention was not to talk about delivery, that means I am being told to foray a domain which is beyond logistics.”
Such kind of arrangement will sure bring product delivery a step closer but brings a new set of challenges. The time has arrived where warehouses has to be future ready. Going further he said, “He was talking about getting the designers, doing the photoshoots , getting the fits, etc. and everything inside the warehouse, so as soon as the product will receive the order, it get delivered then and there. May be the product is going to launch on in the short while but the back-end is almost done. I think that is the way where we all are heading."
“I think we are just venturing into manufacturing zone, sooner or later; people are going to ask to manufacture the product in order to stream line the entire supply chain cycle,” Mehra summed up.
Align brick and Mortar to warehouse
Few categories such as footwear is a challenging as well as interesting category. Being the part of fashion returns may be bit higher in this category. Speaking on same, Ishaan Sachdeva, Director, Virola International (Alberto Toressi) informed, “As far as the fulfillment part goes, footwear has the different sort of challenge, per unit cost of sending and returning (if you have to) really makes or break the business. “
Every footwear retailer wants to reach a point when logistics cost does not bombard the product because at the end of the day it has to enter the customer’s pocket. “It is a very difficult category but more and more customers getting into it, so returns are kind of reducing, and Integration with offline stores helps us not only in timely fulfillment of order but to reach out to new customers,” Sachdeva summed up.
Follow ‘Hyper local’ model
Online businesses such as laundry or medicine or alike require completely a different set of logistics. In the case of the laundry, it is a service not a product so experience takes a lead over delivery. Arunabh Sinha, Director, UClean informed, “We don’t just have to deliver certain product at customers’ premise. Typically, our service revolves around pick, process and drop. Being hyper local helps us because anything starching beyond 4 or 5 kms of business could adversely impact the cost that we are incurring in processing the material that we have received.”
Speaking on same, Dhaval Shah, Co-founder of PharmEasy, said, “In India, you would have every geography writing very specific subscription based on demographics, personal preferences, pharmaceutical company penetration and touch points with the doctor. Keeping the stocks of all these medicines is really a challenge. So I would say logistics will remain challenge for any hyper local e-comm player, but for us it become very critical because the very nature of the product that we dispense, you cannot anybody a product extra. “
Shah also informed that during the inception of their business they started logistics via aligning with physical store. But, such model could not survive in the long run due to the mind set of brick and mortar retailers. “The mind set of brick and mortar had a point of view that the customer will come because of discount as there is no service required,” shah said. Now, the company has its own dedicated supply chain distribution.
Invest in Technology
There are various companies such as Locus provides a tech platform to manage your own logistics. Locus provides complete automation from the point of dispatch till the order reaches the end customers. Speaking at IReC 2017, Nishith Rastogi, CEO & Founder, Locus, said, If you talk about niche e-commerce businesses across the verticals, all of them rum their own capital logistics though each of them has separate delivery graph but ultimately it is about combination of trust and availability of sophisticated tools.” Locus provides powerful dashboard that helps retailer to stay aware of all that is going on. It provides features such as live tracking and intelligent alerts that highlight events that need attention the most.