Peoplevox “2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report” now out
Business is booming for e-commerce retailers according to the findings of our global market research study, “The 2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report”.
Record sales were reported for last year by 82% of the e-commerce and multichannel businesses taking part with only 6% reporting a decrease in orders. The majority were also optimistic about their business prospects for this year with 88% forecasting a healthy increase in orders.
While this probably isn’t so surprising, after all online shopping demand and consequently e-commerce sales have been on the up for years, our findings did uncover a number of ‘home truths’ which will need addressing moving forward.
Interestingly, despite the buoyant market conditions, only (53%) of respondents said they were happy with their fulfilment and warehouse operations. The No.1 priority needing improvement this year was found to be Forecasting and Planning (24%). Furthermore, many of those questioned (63%) admitted to not always shipping on time with 34% citing the unavailability of stock being a key reason.
And when it comes to rectifying shipping errors, the majority (80%) appear accepting of the additional carriage, customer service and warehouse labour expenses as an inevitable cost of order fulfilment. A further 1 in 5 admitted to not knowing the cost of shipping mistakes.
In our view the above issues are classic symptoms of ‘growing pains’. These will become increasingly challenging for e-commerce businesses as they look to profitably scale and address niche and global market opportunities, while at the same time differentiate themselves from the competition and in the eyes of consumers.
In fact, many questioned already are voicing concern about growing competition, not least the ongoing threat of Amazon, as well as the impact of currency fluctuations, and for UK businesses – Brexit.
We foresee a wind of change on the horizon.
While so far retailers have enjoyed a friendly tailwind in terms of market buoyancy and low interest rates, the new - super-competitive - era of e-commerce means many retailers will inevitably begin to face a freshening headwind. This may be a breeze for those already equipped for meeting the fulfilment challenges of the future, but there are many out there still looking to get by with inefficient fulfilment processes.
Further pain points:
Meeting additional demand for orders at peak times (77%)
Achieving and maintaining efficient business processes (35%)
Keeping abreast of administration (33%)
Finding time to do essential warehouse upkeep (26%)
Time for action
With expectations of next day/same day delivery, customers just won’t accept the apparent inability of online businesses to accurately ship on time, every time, or inadvertently sell items that just aren’t available. Fundamental warehouse and fulfilment issues such as these will need to be addressed before they grow into more serious problems that may impact on customer loyalty, the number of returns, sales opportunities, overheads, and profits.
A sizeable proportion of survey respondents are, however, planning action this year with, for example, technology upgrades, the addition of new sales channels, and recruitment or training of more fulfilment personnel this year.
Refreshingly, 62% of respondents said their business already used a WMS. And 40% overall stated that an increase in picking errors was the main reason they would or had implemented a WMS. Other common reasons for using a WMS included sales growth, warehouse expansion, the implementation of new e-commerce platforms or ERP systems - and poor online ratings.
To find out more and gain practical insight into how your e-commerce business can prepare for the challenges of the future, download The 2017 Ecommerce Fulfilment Report. This is now available FREE.