What is eCommerce Strategy? Well, every business, in general, is worried about the future of its operations & success. eCommerce is not different, and the industry has its own kinds of stress, fears and speculations to consider for the successful operations and how to overcome ever-changing demands of the customers and exploit the potentials of the market and how to cope up with the ever-changing policies of the marketplaces and also how to nurture your clients and keep them satisfied over time.
Along with these, eCommerce businesses are always struggling to keep their customers as returning customers. They are always worried about the competition out there, and the eCommerce industry is an open industry. You can’t restrict any newcomers, and entry barriers into the market are not as stringent as offline stores.
There are many options to enter into eCommerce, and every business can have its piece of the pie. Every business needs to have its own niche market to capture a fair market share. This is one of the must-have criteria so that they can avoid conflict between the sales. But eventually, as and when the product ranking increases, every business wants to have the product which gives most of the sales, most of the volume, most of the profit and everything else in most. However, this is not always possible because if you make most of the sales, it won’t guarantee most of the volume & profit.
Although I have been discussing about the eCommerce journey and planning the success for a long-term benefit in my previous blogs. It will never be sufficient to keep up with the plans, because plans are made for the smooth operations. But there are some unexpected hindrances to push out of the normal trajectory. That’s why I will discuss the very core process today, which would give you the extra edge if you can control these operations in tact and save your eCommerce business from any policy violations, unexpected hindrances, and brand policy violation etc.
These are the main core factors and measures to consider for the smoother operation of your eCommerce business, which would help you glide through overtime.
Picking & Packaging for eCommerce Strategy
Well, I have discussed about warehouse management system in my previous blog. Although, all the discussions will never be enough, because this is what I call is the process of operations, which just sound a single word. But while you go through the process, many businesses take years to master it and even decades to work upon it like a pro. Operations are not easy to look after and a lot hard to manage. That’s why big business have Operation Managers to look after the overall process. If the overall process would be as easy to oversee and just guide few employees to work the way you desire and alongside if they would perform as expected, then this would be the easiest thing to consider.
As it sounds effortless in theory, but practically you got to have nerves to manage people under operations to lead them and have them work the way you desire. You got to keep your cool as you would be new into the industry, so would your sub-ordinates unless you have experts in the industry to help you out.
Once you have warehouse management system, as discussed in the previous blog, things would start working fine as you go along with the process. I will guide you through how to set up the system effectively later on, but as today, I will guide you through the overall strategy and the core requirements for the strong base for your business. If you get these setups right, then the overall functioning of your business won’t need major attention.
After you set up all your inventories & listings within the system and have started receiving the orders, you need to make sure that your operational staff don’t have to waste their time & efforts looking for the storage locations of the inventory. They should get their picking list in such a form that it would make their life easier. As a basic understanding, the inventories within your system and storage location should be assigned with a SKU i.e. Stock Keeping Unit, that would identify the item. It should also have the location within the warehouse that would guide the picker of the item about the location and where to pick the item from.
Once you print a pick list for your picker, it should be in a chronological order i.e. sorted by SKUs and also all the stock that needs picking from a specific location or nearby location should be grouped accordingly. This way you will make the life of your pickers easier and as soon as they pick these goods, they can move to the packaging department or they can handover these picked goods to the packaging team.
Once picking process is sorted, the next move you should plan to have the effective format of packaging team. How to print your packaging labels and what sort of package they should be using is the most efficient strategy to plan beforehand. You should enter all your inventory items efficiently into the system. These items should have all the details & dimensions, so that it would make things easier for the system as well, to identify whether the item is a large-letter or parcel. You should have proper weight and volumetric details mentioned into the system. When you want to apply any automation rules, it would be easier for the system to workout and perform actions as per the conditions laid down in the rules.
It would help if you designed the packaging label effectively to guide the packers to quickly identify the items. You should emphasise the quantity that needs to be dispatched because of there is issue in identifying the number of units to be shipped, then you might lose out on dispatch and give rise to customer complaints. This bit of the packaging label needs to be sorted, and every member in the team needs to be trained accordingly.
You should not expect your packaging team to use their local in identifying the number of units to be dispatched. Actually, this is your job and you should create the system to make the operation simple and smooth. If you just expect every member to use their logics and work accordingly, you will never be able to create a system that would lead to any form of profitability. You should design the system in a way that it would make everyone’s life easier and operations smoother in order to achieve the most out of it.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and I can keep writing about it all way long, but as I need to cover rest of the important portions, I will be covering the deep details at some other point.
Pricing strategy plays a very crucial role. When it comes to eCommerce industry, we all know that the industry is vast and there are lot many sellers selling the similar stuff in the market, specifically on the marketplaces. This creates a very stringent competition for all the sellers and they are all engaged into price-war so that they can keep their products cheap in order to generate sales. Because it is very clear that no customer would buy the similar product from the seller whoever is selling at an expensive rate.
Every seller has their own costs to consider and bifurcate those into pricing and plan a competitive pricing strategy. It starts from the very basic i.e. the cost of the product at which they buy their goods and then they add on all the relevant expenses and come up with a sell price. But at this point, they will just get a minimum price that would be the price as a base price. But as this is just the minimum price, this way the seller won’t be able to make profit on their products. They need to have a proper software in order to run repricer on their products while selling on Amazon, or else there is no way these sellers would make any earnings from their business.
Now, the question is what the heck is a repricer. Well there are many repricers in the marketing offering various types of repricing rules. And we will discuss deeply about the repricers in the future blogs. Briefly, repricer helps sellers keep their prices above their minimum pricing setup and sell stuff at higher prices whenever there is an option depending on the competition surrounding their items.
Why is customer service important? This is one of the most notable aspects of any business, not only the eCommerce business. If you can satisfy your customers via customer service, it will take your business growth and revenue to the highest scalable option. However, it is not as straight forward as it sounds.
Once you get along the process of sales via controlling your inventory, followed by the pricing management, you will start generating sales. If your inventories are priced at perfect position, you will see a very high volume of sales. But once you start receiving sales volume, it is not a guarantee of satisfied customers. Eventually, you may realise that your sales are bringing customers complaining about some of your products and you need to resolve these satisfactorily or else it will lead to negative feedback.
You will also find that customers are trying to misuse the process, but this is how the practical world works and you need to deal with every such kind of customers to survive into the industry. You will learn how to cope up with such customers.
Customers just keep complaining about non-delivery, fault in the products, broken items, damaged stuff and late delivery etc. Some customers don’t even pay for the next day delivery, but will expect their products to be delivered at such a faster pace as if they own your whole company. But you need to keep your cool and survive alongside.
However, there are tools which may wish to use and deal with such customers and also you may wish to automate some kind of messages to make your life easier. You can create rules within the system that would bring lots of hassle down but still it is not the end of the problems. Because every sales will lead you to the hassle and every kind of hassle will make you work hard and will make you smooth out your process. You will learn with every mistake you would make and thereby you will top up into the market.
It is a very general fact, that if you don’t learn from your mistakes, there is no point doing things that you may be doing in terms of your eCommerce business.
This way, I have discussed above 3 core steps that would suffice your eCommerce business with all the essential strategy. But ofcourse, as discussed, nothing is easy and you need to keep learning from your mistakes to take your eCommerce business to the next level of success.
I look forward to your queries and plan my future blogs surrounding your concerns, as planning an eCommerce & pricing strategy won’t just stop here and as it is an on-going process, everyone is always learning, including myself.