The demand for e-commerce is at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down. Since the start of the pandemic, many consumers have relied on online stores to get their needed products, with businesses are following suit to avoid losing sales. The signs were evident even in July 2020, when Growth Intelligence data reported that over 85,000 businesses were launched online during the lockdown period.
With the current regulations surrounding Brexit still freshly introduced, it can be increasingly difficult for businesses to deliver a world-class customer experience, especially when dealing with international shoppers. However, longer shipping times and potentially higher costs following Brexit can provide a new opportunity for businesses looking to scale domestically.
Checking the status of your supply chain
With the plethora of new changes impacting businesses trading both domestically and internationally, preparing your operations to handle new processes is essential. In such instances, conducting a health check on your supply chain can help you successfully manage and track its components. An appraisal of end-to-end processes will ensure that your business can streamline operations where required, mitigate risk, and minimise potential disruption, all of which will attribute to protecting your customers as order demand rises.
Activ8 recommends to closely liaise with existing couriers and suppliers to identify any potential changes that may impact costs of shipping. Businesses that are shipping outside the UK should familiarise themselves with customs declarations and product commodity codes, as well as set up EORI numbers to import and export goods. This will also impact many businesses trading domestically that source stock via the EU, as imports and exports are likely to take longer and cost more. Courier delays could potentially also disrupt domestic UK fulfilment depending on courier backlogs.
Setting up alternative solutions to accommodate for any potential delays is advantageous when preparing your supply chain as it will mitigate the risk of late or unfulfilled customer orders. Investigating local service providers to handle domestic and international solutions can help mitigate the disruptions that major providers may be facing. Staggering deliveries to use smaller, frequent shipments is also ideal for reducing risk when shipping as less stock can be potentially delayed.
Update your policies
The end of the transition period will likely have impacted your company policies in one way or another. Whether it is changes to fulfilment or customs fees reflected in product prices, increased delivery times, or additional charges offset to customers, it’s vital to communicate with customers in a clear and timely manner regarding any changes to standard operating procedures to ensure that the customer understands how this will pertain to them.
Keep customers informed throughout the entirety of the purchase and post-purchase process via email communications, linking to any relevant information or tracking. This is particularly important for managing the customer’s experience while adjusting to new changes. As many as four out of five customers have reportedly switched brands due to a poor customer experience, therefore, clear and efficient communication is the goal.
Businesses that are seeking to scale using digital channels using cost-effective, efficient solutions should not overlook outsourcing business processes to a third-party. Selecting the correct provider can provide extensive benefits such as:
- Increased efficiency – by selecting a company that specialises in a particular service, business owners can leverage more knowledge, skills and expertise at a much lower cost to optimise their supply chain.
- More time to focus on core business – third-party providers can free up the time of key figures within the business to focus on more important tasks and future strategy
- Improved reach – outsourcing tasks can provide your business with access to capabilities or facilities that would otherwise be inaccessible or unaffordable.
Although often overlooked, outsourcing can help with ensuring that your business is more flexible, agile, and able to adapt to the ever-changing markets as well as providing cost-effective improvements to daily processes.
Consider your resources
Setting the correct strategy for managing resources can be imperative for businesses seeking to scale in the world of e-commerce, firstly to push for efficient use of existing resources but also to consider your allocation for the upcoming period. Whether the goal for 2021 entails launching your products on a new marketplace or expanding into new regions, businesses should consider how this will impact staffing levels, machinery, technologies etc.
A resource management strategy can also help with identifying areas in which automation can be used to assist staff with managing day-to-day processes such as customer services, returns & exchanges, pick-and-pack fulfilment, and more.
With the growth of adoption of e-commerce in recent months, there is a growing opportunity this year for companies that are willing to scale domestically in UK markets. Delays with imports and exports will mean that international suppliers may have more difficulty getting their goods to consumers here, meaning that domestic sellers can take advantage by offering lower prices, faster fulfilment and better support along the way.