There is no question that when it comes to buying online, consumer expectations have changed a lot. Just a few years ago it was normal for fulfillment and delivery of an online order to take ten days or more. Having to pay “extra” for shipping was expected as well. Online shoppers accepted all this as normal.
The marketplace and buyer expectations are very different today. Led by Amazon, customers now demand fast delivery (which means same day in some circumstances) and free shipping.
While shipping is obviously never free, the concept is really just another way of saying that the cost is being absorbed by the seller and hidden in the price of the items bought. With online selling being so competitive and with extreme pressure to keep prices low, online retailers are challenged to provide fast delivery with the impression of free shipping.
So what can a retailer do?
Both factors – shipping time and cost – are in many ways connected. In other words, the farther something needs to ship, the greater the cost and time needed. It’s logical then that if you can shrink the average distance between where your orders are shipped from to your customers you can reduce both time and cost.
The good news is this is actually not as hard as it seems.
When you do your own fulfillment and shipping from a warehouse, or work with a 3PL having a single location, your shipping costs and transit times are hard to improve. These costs are what they are to a large extent.
But, putting your inventory at multiple locations closer to your customers is a direct way to shrink the average distance your orders need to ship. This reduces both transit times and costs. This is precisely how Amazon operates it fulfillment network – but unfortunately they also operate in a way that is particularly unfriendly to most online retailers.
The good news is working with a fulfillment operation like www.kablefulfillment.com, that operates an integrated network of fulfillment centers, can provide you with an optimal footprint of warehouse locations that minimize the distance from where you ship to your customers’ doorsteps.
Customer expectations are not going to get any easier when it comes to fast delivery and “free shipping”. The best solution is to create a fulfillment and shipping process that optimizes cost and transit time to your customers.