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How outsourcing deliveries can sustain the e-commerce boom
by Neil Cotty, the Managing Director at Global Freight Solutions (GFS)
Friday, January 10, 2014

Growth is a positive development for any business sector.

For the retail industry, though, which places great emphasis on providing a good customer experience, the rapid growth in e-commerce over the last decade has created something of a challenge.

Keeping track of deliveries direct to customers using a wide variety of different methods and trying to identify and resolve potential difficulties or ‘exceptions’ which may arise in transit – what GFS calls ‘parcel management’ - requires significant effort, especially during periods such as that leading up to Christmas, when volumes may surge many times above their pre-peak levels.

Furthermore, retailers know that they are at the mercy of social media should there be a problem with any deliveries. A customer’s bad experience can quickly be shared with many others, damaging reputations and leading to custom being taken elsewhere, often due to the failure of just a single delivery.

However, an increasing number of retailers are choosing to approach the challenge by outsourcing to specialists which are adept at managing every step of the delivery process - from the point at which consumers arrive at the online Checkout with intended purchases through to their receipt of goods.

We know that consumers’ needs are really quite simple when ordering online. They want their delivery at a time and a place most convenient to them. Having the ability to choose the date, time and method of delivery is a critical factor in ensuring that they do not abandon their online shopping cart in favour of another retailer which offers greater choice.

Whilst choice is a customer’s basic requirement, achieving it in a simple enough fashion at the online Checkout and in a retailer’s warehouse at the time of order fulfilment is not so straightforward and requires specialist software to bring about.

In addition, on those occasions when exceptions do occur, retailers want to work with partners which can address any issues quickly and pro-actively in order to maintain a high quality customer experience. That means relying on logistics professionals who have the right contacts and exception management systems to reduce the impact of any true failures while liaising with the retailer and their customer.

In circumstances where individual issues cannot be corrected, retailers know that explaining what has happened to a customer – and, critically, how the matter will be resolved - rather than having them wait in all day for a delivery which is not going to arrive, can mean the difference between repeat business or not.
It is far better to be able to get in touch with a customer to advise what is being done in such a situation and what is being done to resolve it than receive a call from consumers unaware of what is happening but upset because a purchase has not arrived when and where it should.

As some of GFS’s retail clients have found, they can avoid such a scenario by using external partners with truly effective, pro-active systems.

Outsourcing has delivered e-commerce a stream of benefits, including improved prospects of first-time delivery success, a reduction of inbound calls from unhappy customers and an improved relationship with their supplier partners.

Of course, this then enables a retailer to concentrate on its core activity and what it does best: selling its products.



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