Unrestricted by geographic borders, today’s consumers are buying from international merchants more than ever before.
While B2C eCommerce sales in Asia Pacific are projected to increase at moderate double-digit rates through to 2019, consumers are increasingly expecting brands to maintain service levels with prompt delivery and regular updates on their order status.
Nevertheless, retailers serving eCommerce customers in other countries often face challenges with customs procedures, regulatory requirements and taxation issues. These complications can lead to delays in shipping, as well as making it hard to predict delivery times.
With the final part of the delivery journey (the “last mile”) being the most important touchpoint between a brand and a consumer, having the right fulfilment strategy is vital.
Technology helps determine the efficiency of cross-border eCommerce. For example, Flexible Order Management Systems and Warehouse Management Systems are software packages designed to support eRetailers with multi-channel sales and distribution. They help to improve order accuracy as well as drive efficiency in processing orders.
Moreover, data analytics offer businesses insights into buying behaviour, sales cycles and trends, as well as help with troubleshooting.
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies also play a significant role in last-mile fulfilment by connecting parcels, machineries, logistical equipment and transport vehicles, thus driving dynamic new business models.
One interesting aspect in IoT-enabled last-mile fulfilment is the flexible delivery address. This offers recipients greater accuracy about expected delivery times, enabling them to specify a change in address if necessary (such as having their parcel delivered to their workplace instead of their home).
It is crucial for retailers to work with the right fulfilment partners, especially with consumers demanding greater flexibility in shipping options. Partners that offer both domestic and international delivery options at affordable rates will allow businesses to meet customers’ wishes regarding deliveries.
Another key consideration is a fulfilment partner’s ability to overcome the legal limitations of each country. Duties and taxes, import and export laws, packaging and returns, and varied consumer privacy and protection laws hinder prompt door-to-door delivery. A fulfilment centre in the right location is an asset to online and offline merchants, who will be seen as reliable while slashing costs commonly associated with cross-border logistics.
eCommerce consumers have zero tolerance for delivery delays or problems. Retailers, logistic service providers and fulfilment centres all play an integral role in ensuring the “last mile” is a success. The entire eCommerce chain needs to collaborate to ensure delivery times are prompt, costs are kept low and customer experiences stay positive.
- Thomas Kipp will be a speaker at the Last Mile Fulfilment Asia (LMFAsia) 2016, at Singapore Expo on March 3 and 4. With the themed “eCommerce Beyond Borders”, LMFAsia 2016 is the region’s only conference and exhibition dedicated to eCommerce fulfilment, featuring experts from the retail, eCommerce, parcel and logistics industries.