Online shopping is a longstanding part of the average Hong Konger’s daily routine. The recent pandemic has pushed many traditional physical stores to provide online services, while prompting others to open online stores from scratch. Acting as an online store operator brings about many responsibilities, such as establishing a store website, promotional social media platforms … but one major aspect of business is often overlooked: logistics. Before the promised goods are physically delivered to customers, even the most minor logistical mistakes (whether they be in warehousing, shipping, or transportation) can cause substantial losses. Shopkeepers should therefore pay attention to these three major logistical tips for online stores.
The recent boom in online shopping has meant that more and more physical stores have switched their platforms to provide services virtually. With such pressuring competition, both large and small online stores have not hesitated to attract customers through implementing enticing promotions, discounts, free shipping, and free gifts. However, after having successfully received larger amounts of orders, the delivery efficiency of these online stores has failed to maintain itself. Many online store owners wrongfully assume that increased orders automatically translate to a proportional increase in profit, but what they fail to estimate is the potential losses caused by weakened logistical efficiency.
Tip #1: Shipping Efficiency vs. Returns Risk
For stores being run online, special attention must be paid to the delivery time that customers are being offered. The longer the wait is for customers to receive their goods, the higher likelihood exists that they will later return the product. Thus, delivery efficiency has a serious impact on customers’ willingness to keep hold of their goods.
Some online stores provide a period of returns within which any goods can be returned by the customer freely. If delivery efficiency is sub-par, and customers are unable to receive their products shortly after they have placed orders, it is possible that they will start to ask themselves whether they truly need the products they ordered. Another point of note is the price of the goods – the higher this is, the more likely the customer is going to second-guess their purchase after they have time to think over it further. Therefore, the faster the delivery time is, the better – deliveries that can be completed within 24 hours are the most resistant to customer regret. Besides delivery time, however, good accuracy is also important. Online customer complaints about the wrong order being sent or long waiting times for certain products often result in full order cancellations, and goods will need to be sent back to the warehouse. This not only reverses profit but also increases logistical costs. Processing customer complaints also takes 1 to 2 hours on average, resulting in additional manpower costs. Further, less than 10% of goods that have been returned can be successfully resold. In order to easily streamline shipping efficiency, the best way to go is to hire a reliable warehousing logistics team, whose professional management and logistics staff will be held responsible for distribution. Cloud inventory management systems can also allow for easy monitoring of cargo shipments.
Tip #2: Inventory Management vs. Expiration Dates
Inventory management is a key area of concern for online stores, especially if the goods in question are food, beauty or skin care products that make direct contact with the body. This is because these products often have strict expiration dates that cannot be ignored. Lack of proper inventory management can cause entire batches of goods to expire or decrease in quality, contributing to major company losses – regardless of whether or not the output of these expired products is intentional or not. For example, this has been seen in the frozen meat industry when importers accidentally transported heavily expired frozen seafood to the market for sale. This is considered illegal and such behaviors may be subject to heavy fines, revocation of sales licenses and in some cases even imprisonment.
While SMEs still use manual methods such as Excel tables to document the expiration dates of goods, this is extremely time-consuming and sensitive to error. Making use of an inventory management system is therefore the most appropriate way to keep track of this information. However, building such a system from the ground up requires large amounts of capital investment, which many SMEs or entrepreneurs are unable to afford. Consequently, professional warehousing logistics companies can step in and provide both storage space and logistics distribution for your products. Paying according to a simple monthly fee, you can also have access to an easy-to-use, real-time inventory management system that allows you to check the expiration date and status of your goods online. Such systems also allow store owners to set expiration date warnings on products, limiting their storage life to 180/90/30 days. This enables online stores to make preparations in advance for future products and promotions which ensures the loss of expired goods.
Tip #3: Warehouse Quality vs. Product Risk
SMEs often aim for cheap warehouse rentals in order to save money. However, while such rentals will see immediate savings in cash expenditure, SMEs forget that inventory is a company’s biggest form of capital, and that smaller losses due to poor warehouse choices can easily accumulate. For companies that sell tangible goods, product inventory is a major area of focus for the company and therefore where most funds are invested. If a company wants to keep profits high, inventory must be kept as low as possible to maintain a system of stable cash flow. Therefore, poor warehouse quality and damaged goods can contribute to direct harm to company funds.
When choosing a storage warehouse, considerations must include whether the storage environment provided is sufficient for your goods. For example, for products that are required to be kept in dry environments, warehouses must provide dehumidifying facilities. Similarly, for products that are not resistant to high temperatures, warehouses must provide equipment that maintains a consistent indoor temperature. Other provisions such as fire and theft provisions must also be taken into account. Thus, cheap warehouses lacking such measures are not advisable as the risk of goods breaking or deteriorating must be minimized.
Boxful Fulfillment, The Best Online Store Partner
If you want to take advantage of all three tips mentioned above without spending large amounts of capital and resources Boxful Fulfillment is the ideal choice for you! We provide a one-stop service for SMEs, meeting your needs for warehousing and integrated logistics.
- Flexible storage prices – we charge only according to the space you actually use, saving unnecessary costs.
- Logistical optimization for our warehouses – equipped with video surveillance, international-level ADT anti-theft systems, fire protection systems and constant temperature/humidity monitoring, safely storing your goods under all conditions.
- Cloud inventory management – one-click cloud inventory management helps you to monitor inventory status, control scheduling and track delivery at any time. This improves operational efficiency for SMEs considerably.
- Streamlined, integrated supply chains – this allows your customers to place direct orders to access goods. Once you give confirmation, Boxful will immediately complete the shipment for you, working with B2B partners.
- Real-time inventory management – budgeting and notification systems help you plan for future business, organizing the most effective and appropriate inventory levels and minimizing shortage risks, enhancing market competitiveness.
If you want your online store to be equipped with the best logistics system and warehousing management, contact Boxful’s Logistics Specialists and receive a logistics plan tailor-made for you!
Further readings： [The Basic Steps of Warehousing Logistics] Boxful Fulfillment Puts SMEs on the Road to Success
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