Ecommerce shipping management for the modern retailer

Warehouse Management

Back when brick-and-mortar stores reigned supreme, shipping management was a much easier task. Merchants often had a couple of regional warehouses, from which they would send products to their local stores every few weeks, depending on demand. The industry dealt primarily with bulk, low frequency shipping needs.

The Internet not only changed how people shop, but also how many retailers handle their eCommerce operations. As a result, eCommerce shipping management became a more pressing issue. People have the option of making a purchase 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means merchants are constantly filling orders and shipping them to customers. Shipping has changed from being mainly a mix of bulk orders to a mix including high-volume, small orders straight to customers as well as low-volume, bulk shipments to retail stores.

“From the moment the online order is placed to when it is picked, packed, and shipped, every step in the process must be handled efficiently, consistently and cost-effectively.”

This extra wrinkle of having to ship straight to the consumer added a significant amount of stress to perfecting warehouse operations. Merchants have had to adjust quickly given the rapid of uptick of online shopping, which has grown significantly over the past decade.

Moreover, the recent economic recession and slowly recovering economy make this adjustment all the more difficult. Retailers are looking to protect their margins, yet shipping many orders can present a significant cost. Additionally, these orders need to be done in a timely fashion, or else merchants may lose future sales from angry customers. This is why eCommerce shipping management has become a significant focus for most retailers.

"From the moment the online order is placed to when it is picked, packed, and shipped, every step in the process must be handled efficiently, consistently and cost-effectively," added Inbound Logistics contributor Jeffrey Graves. "In eCommerce, the distribution center provides much of the customer experience. Simply delivering the goods is no longer an adequate mission for the fulfillment center – customer satisfaction has to be a critical priority."

Leverage the right solutions to streamline shipping

Fortunately, modern eCommerce solutions can help retailers navigate several of these challenges. With the right software in place, merchants will be able to automate several critical tasks which promotes efficiency and helps them spend more resources elsewhere.

The biggest boon of eCommerce shipping management software is the creation of logic-based rules that will help automate many of the time-consuming aspects of shipping. Merchants can establish specific rule sets for multiple occasions, which helps retailers set everything in motion in the most effective way possible.

For example, merchants can use rules to decide where an order should be fulfilled from (for example, a retail store near the customer or a regional warehouse). Once that is done, shipping solutions may help merchants decide on the best way to ship the item, keeping specifics such as dimensional weight or the customer's preferred shipping options in account. Shipping solutions can even take care of tasks such as printing invoices, sending emails to key stakeholders and addressing other mission-critical activities.

Automating many of the tasks related to shipping can influence other areas of operations as well. For example, if a customer calls with a question about the shipping status of their orders, automated solutions will keep the status updated in real-time, thereby allowing customer service representatives to answer questions quickly and seamlessly. Shipping solutions can also help promote transparency in other areas as well, including inventory management.

Shipping has become a critical point for successful retailers, and it is paramount merchants use the right software that can easily be integrated into other solutions. This will help them fine-tune eCommerce operations and better serve their customers.

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