An almost unlimited selection, no opening hours and delivery straight to the customer's hand anywhere in the world. In order for the visible sales counter to be plentiful and the online sales customer’s service experience smooth, many things have to go right before that.
Therefore, we will next go through the final link, i.e. transportation, which is vital for the success of an online store, in terms of purchasing, storing and customer experience.
You can get more in-depth information about each part of the activity chain through blog posts. What kind of things do you come across in practical work, which are the operating models that have been proven to work, and how do you make the pieces of the puzzle fall into place?
Come and get a peek behind the scenes of an online store!
Behind the store's basic selection and the ranges that follow seasonal variations is a complex and global procurement chain, where procurement decisions are made a year in advance. In the challenges produced by the changing world, long cooperation agreements and the parties' trust in each other are important.
That's why retail selection management and planning is a broad entity, which can include, e.g., analysis and forecasting of products, optimisation of shelf space and store placement, and automated replenishment of orders.
Customised selection management serves the special needs of the industry
There are several ready-made solutions for assortment management on the market. However, the finished solution can be a robust package, not all the features are needed, or they are already handled in other systems. It is also possible that exactly the required feature is missing.
In this case, customised selection management is the right solution. Customisation ensures that the system is suitable for the company's needs and supports current processes.
Depending on the industry, customised selection management can, for example,
- be a planning tool used to manage seasonal needs as well as releases of different models
- guide the creation of products with the product information available from suppliers
- collect the order quantities needed by each store from the merchant network
- automatically transfer orders to suppliers.
Made-to-order, assortment management, implemented ahead of the needs of the industry, also has a significant positive and immediate effect.
The new digital ordering process significantly saves time compared to the previous one.
Jonna Airas, Intersport
In the blog, we reveal how international sports store Intersport's purchases in Finland are made for the needs of 50 stores and an online store. What is the process like in practice, how is the whole managed, what are its critical points and how are the challenges solved.
A good service experience in an online store is made up of many different pieces, and a functional storage solution is one important piece of this puzzle.
Well-functioning inventory management enables online shopping to be effective, as well as fast deliveries and a suitable selection. That's why a functional warehouse and logistics solution is required as the basis of the service experience in online shopping.
The keys to a working storage solution are data and partnerships
Should we take our own or outsource?
Your own storage solution can make sense if you can find suitable facilities and know-how about storage and logistics. If these are not available, or there are changes in the need for space and personnel due to strong seasonal fluctuations, choosing an external partner may be the right choice.
Keep the stock value low and the selection wide.
It is never profitable to have goods lying around in a warehouse for long periods of time. The challenge is combining a low inventory value with a sufficient product selection. That's why it's important to order the right stuff at the right time. Forecasting based on data is indeed one of the most challenging areas of inventory management, so it is worth allocating both time and resources properly.
Follow the movement of goods, prepare for surprises and be flexible about your plans.
As stated, forecasting is difficult but necessary. Therefore, the movement of the goods must be constantly monitored, and plans must be corrected as necessary, no matter how carefully they were made. If, for example, a previous best-selling product stops moving from the warehouse, you must be able to react quickly.
Look for reliable and good partners.
When it comes to storage and logistics, it is important to trust our partners. This is particularly emphasised in the case of an outsourced warehouse solution. If the partnership does not work and, for example, the wrong product arrives at the wrong time, it will be visible to the customers immediately. Functional inventory management built with a reliable partner improves the online store customer experience, when customers get the products they want quickly and flexibly.
The customer doesn't notice anything when the online store storage solution works. A satisfied customer who gets his product quickly is the best sign that the whole thing has been successful.
Tuuli Roth, Wendre Oy
From the buyer's point of view, the operational reliability of online store transport means that the packages go to the right place, at the right time: the product ordered to home must not end up at R-kioski, and the product ordered to R-kioski cannot end up at K-kauppa.
Operational reliability is the most important measure of transport quality for a Finnish online store customer, and therefore delivery solutions should be at the top of the to-do list of the founder of an online store.
The prerequisites for high-quality online store delivery are created under the hood
Everything starts from customer understanding.
Does your target group value speed, a small carbon footprint or something completely different? In what different life situations might your products be needed? What special requirements do the products you sell set for transport?
Online store delivery starts with a visit to the online store.
How well is the buying pipeline designed? Where can the customer find the terms of delivery? How easily can the customer choose the supplier and delivery method of their choice?
High-quality data processing and movement create the conditions for high-quality transport.
How does the transport company get the information related to the delivery and the order? What format is the data in? How does the planned platform integrate with the required transport-related systems?
The responsibility of the transport industry is a broader issue than fuel consumption.
How does the transport company plan its route? What equipment and vehicles are used in the terminal? How is it lit and how is the energy used there produced?
Look at Last Mile delivery under a microscope.
To what extent is distribution electronic now, and what about in the future? How well can the customer follow the final moments of the transport? How do you inform the customer about return and exchange options?
And finally: be prepared for mistakes, because they cannot be avoided.
What things could possibly go wrong? Find out the facts related to them, document the operating methods and plan customer communication.
You shouldn't think "what will I do if..." but "what will I do when something goes wrong". Consumers almost always associate disappointment with online shopping, and therefore being prepared is beneficial to business.
Valeri Minkeinen, DB Schenker
It is no news that online shopping is gaining momentum. Speed brings more competition, and with new players, customer demands also increase. If you slow down, competitors will overtake you. The customer remembers his experience and tells it to thousands of others on social media.
An online store is much more than a smooth front page and thought-out customer paths. A functioning online store requires an entire machine room instead of an engine, where only a few successes come by chance, and lone wolves do not succeed.
We made an overview of online shopping processes because we want to make visible a complex entity where everything affects everything.
In order to get a full house in the online business, i.e. the top spot in the market, at least the following five elements must be in place:
1. Choose your partner carefully. Trusted partners do not betray, abandon or close their ears. Your interest is also their interest and vice versa. Also remember that practical work ultimately always culminates in people. Stick to the good guys.
2. Be one step ahead, in everything. Monitor the market and take advantage of opportunities to increase turnover or expand the customer base. Also create different scenarios about failures and variables and, most importantly: How do you act when there are delays?
3. Understand your customer better than yourself. Diamond customer experience is one of your most important aces; take good care of it.
4. Take advantage of digitisation and harness know-how from outside the organisation, if necessary. At best, you save money when you free up your most important resource, i.e. people, to do the work that digitalisation cannot do.
5. Enjoy the work already done but don't stop. Further develop, conduct customer surveys, utilise data and analytics. Challenge existing solutions and operating models. Stay awake.