E-commerce is steadily becoming a key player in the world of consumer shopping. This means that parcel shipment volumes are increasing to keep up with online order numbers. Instead of heading to a big-box store or the local mall, consumers are shopping online for everything from toothbrushes to TVs. Physical shopping carts are becoming digital and free shipping and returns are becoming standard.
Offering free shipping and returns is changing the game for many e-commerce shippers. Without additional fees to order online, customer experience is improved. Additionally, e-commerce shoppers often purchase a single item and have it delivered to their doorstep. This means more parcel shipments are transported as consumers turn to e-commerce platforms to do their everyday shopping.
According to Pitney Bowes, a global technology company providing commerce solutions that power billions of transactions, “Parcel volume globally grew 17 percent last year to 74.4 billion parcels, up from 63.6 billion in 2016.” This staggering growth is putting pressure on companies to keep up with an increased number of parcel shipments. By the end of 2018, it’s forecasted that there will be a 20% increase seen in the total number of parcels shipped globally.
What does this mean for companies shipping parcel?
E-Commerce companies have dedicated a lot of resources to provide the best customer experience possible through digital transformation efforts. Often, however, final mile logistics are left out of these digital strategies. To overlook how shipping impacts the customer’s experience is a mistake. If a product is delivered late, to the wrong location, or with an inferior service, the customer’s experience with a brand can be tarnished.
Integrating shipping into the customer experience strategy is essential for shippers to set themselves up for success delivering an increased number of parcels. It can be complex for businesses of any size to implement a parcel shipment strategy. Smaller businesses have limited time to review shipping options and don’t have the flexibility to overspend on parcel costs. Larger businesses are presented with the challenge of managing a complex array of parcel shipments leaving multiple facilities with various shipping costs. They are under pressure to lower costs all while delivering superior customer service.
How can e-commerce companies keep up?
E-commerce companies need to use technology to streamline their shipping processes to be able to handle increased parcel shipments. Here are three ways that leveraging technology can improve parcel shipping processes.
• Compare rates – By leveraging a transportation management system, shippers can compare rates side-by-side. Service types can be evaluated as well. A customer who doesn’t need a product tomorrow might be a good candidate for a less expensive, though slower, parcel delivery option. By staying on top of carriers’ different service options, shippers with increased parcel volume can keep costs down. With API integrations, a shippers e-commerce website can be directly integrated with the TMS, allowing customers to choose the delivery option which best fits their needs.
• Get Tracking Information – In the digital age, customers expect that they will have full visibility to their orders. Delivery tracking and delivery confirmation are a must. Technology can provide the level of visibility now expected by customers consumers used to tracking from e-commerce giants like Amazon. Customers can then better manage their inbound freight, and internal stakeholders always have the information they need at their fingertips to address customer concerns.
• Auto-Populate Order Information – More parcels to ship means more paperwork, right? Wrong. With the help of an order integration between an ERP system and a TMS, order information automatically populates and is ready for booking. This means fewer manual errors, less time spent rekeying order line items and happier customers who receive their products as ordered. Integrating purchase orders directly from an ERP system facilitates the rapid creation of shipments and ensures 100% order accuracy.
Online shopping is quickly becoming a norm for consumers, but it means that retailers need to incorporate smart parcel shipment strategies into their user experience plans. With the help of technology, keeping up with an increased parcel shipment volume is not only attainable but can positively impact the bottom line of e-commerce companies!