Five tips for online retailers: How to master challenging times with flexible shipping processes.
Whether it’s COVID-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, or a ship stuck in the Suez: global crises and factors of all kinds have a dramatic impact on online retail and delivery. If the situation in the destination country changes slightly, the possibility of delivering parcels as planned can sometimes change from one day to the next.
When it comes to cross-border shipping, it is crucial to react to current events with flexible processes, fully prepared shipping service providers, and the right delivery strategy, thus ensuring you are in the best possible position to succeed in the future.
Here are our top five tips to establishing a flexible shipping strategy to help you stay a step ahead of the competition.
1: Set up a multi-carrier strategy
You can respond flexibly to unforeseen events with access to multiple carriers, even at short notice. Whether it’s weather conditions, Covid-style pandemics, or local strikes, a multi-carrier strategy online shops can react quickly by shifting volumes to an alternative delivery provider. Having the flexibility to ensure the goods make their way to the customer no matter what is a huge advantage of establishing a multi-carrier shipping strategy.
2: Use a local carrier network
Think globally, act locally – that goes for establishing a successful delivery strategy for your online shop. Working with local operators is especially valuable for e-commerce retailers, as this usually represents the most cost-effective and time-efficient option on the ground in your region. To create flexible and cost-efficient delivery processes, bear in mind that international carriers – while offering many benefits – do not always cover the delivery preferences of the local market in the same way a local carrier can.
Familiarity and local expertise are key competitive advantages that benefit you in terms of cost and competitive factors, such as speed and flexibility.
3: Automate customer communication
Flexible delivery processes also mean having enough capacity for what matters. It is clear that business development, expansion, and growth in e-commerce take time, human resources, and – last but not least – your attention. If answering customer questions about their order delivery status consumes your day-to-day operations, other areas will suffer. With intelligent automated customer communication, you can offer optimum customer service – without tying up unnecessary resources.
Automated notifications can be flexibly adapted to the relevant situation, such as proactively notifying customers of delays, so they don't have to contact customer service.
4: Leverage data from a shipping analytics tool
The right analytics tool is also crucial for flexibility. It allows you to monitor the performance of your shipping processes, detect any irregularities, and act on them before customers experience any delivery delays. You can also use your data to better forecast volumes for peak times and know times when you might need to increase your warehouse staff accordingly.
Having a tool with which you can get a clear overview and effectively visualize the KPIs you want to measure also allows you to make smarter, data-driven decisions about your logistics operations to ultimately optimize processes and even reduce costs.
5: Work with one logistics partner
The right shipping partner should offer you access to a wide network of international and local delivery service providers. And with one partner you reduce the number of contacts necessary, enabling you to run leaner operations. Your delivery partner also needs extensive expertise in each region and every individual national market of current and future interest to you. The optimal partner will find you the suitable carriers who can meet the needs and delivery preferences of the market you want to serve. That applies to peak times, too. A reliable partner can help reallocate volumes and develop alternatives to keep your customers satisfied with your online shop's delivery experience.
Seven Senders - a one-stop solution for cross-border shipping
The Seven Senders Delivery Platform is a one-stop solution for all your shipping needs. Connecting to the platform allows you to establish flexible processes and parcel delivery with the local look and feel in each of your target markets.
Find out more about our customized bundle solutions for end-to-end cross-border shipping across Europe – including a simplified customs clearance solution for e-commerce retailers shipping to the UK and Switzerland.