Online retailing is not new. It’s been in consumers’ lives for decades. Mandatory ecommerce due to a global pandemic? Well, it’s safe to say that it’s a new phase for consumers and retailers alike. The COVID-19 outbreak has generated a huge opportunity for e-retailers with a strong online presence to build a whole new base of clients, while maintaining those who were already using their platforms to purchase goods.
Today, more than ever, retailers don’t only need to make sure they have a sound and updated online platform and stock for their products, but they also need to make sure that one of their main stakeholders is aligned with their brand promise. That key business partner is shipping.
Shipping Operations Need to Be Flawless
Shipping companies are experiencing a boom in operations with requirements from almost every industry, therefore, as a retailer, have you sat down with your shipping company to discuss if their logistics, at some point, will be hampered? What will they do to continue delivering your products in a timely manner?
DK Hardware, one of the largest online home improvement retailers for a variety of hardware manufacturers all over the United States and Canada, has been in the online retail business since 2008. Art Goldman, Chief Financial Officer at DK Hardware, states that “From our beginnings, relying on great logistics for our deliveries is as important as the quality of our products. Us retailers have to think of shipping as being part of the online experience. And today, with a shifting online consumer behavior, we need to commit to our estimated shipping times; when a product arrives late, the consumer will only blame the online retailer.”
Synergy between online retailers and shipping goes a long way back. Does Jeff Bezos and his vision to have his own airline to carry Amazon products ring a bell? Trying to control the whole purchase experience is probably the most difficult task for online retailers and one that does not have a solution, basically because they need to rely on third parties for delivery.
Major Challenges Today
Overall logistics: The main challenges today are for companies that have a more complex logistics footprint. While in the past they could potentially deliver a cheaper product (for instance sourcing goods from China, Vietnam, Italy, or others), currently that reality has shifted to a new, more local, model. Freight from international locations is extremely expensive and lead times have increased. Therefore, getting products in a warehouse is overly complex, expensive, and difficult to predict.
In the case of DK Hardware, for instance, the company sources most of the products from the U.S. and is currently a huge benefit for getting products in stock or to the customer much faster.
Shipping deliveries: Timing issues. Overall, FedEx and UPS do not guarantee a time frame for shipping as in the past. With ever changing delivery dates, all negative customer experience is on the retailer. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that major carriers are dealing with their own issues related to COVID-19, so it’s understandable.
Customer’s lack of patience: Generally, clients have been very sympathetic to the situation, especially throughout March and April. Starting May, behavior started to shift, and customers’ overall expectations are back to what they used to be prior to COVID-19.
“Shipping and retailing need to be more aligned than ever. This is a huge opportunity for both industries, and the overall success relies in understanding that they both share the same goals. At the end of the day partnerships share the same reputation, and when a product is delivered in good shape and in timely fashion, both industries are mutually benefitting and establishing, hopefully, a long-term bond with a potential new customer. During these uncertain times, synergies are key during today’s dynamic online economy”, concludes Goldman.
Featured in the Best Online Shops 2020 – Newsweek, DK Hardware is one of the largest online home improvement retailers for a variety of hardware manufacturers all over the United States and Canada.