Any product, it seems, can be purchased from a multitude of websites. Take Lord Levington’s Gourmet Peanuts as an obscure example. Not only can they be bought direct, but also on Firebox, the American Sweets website and a variety of other stores and ‘channels’ such as eBay and Amazon as well as being promoted in Google Shopping.
But purchasing hasn’t only exploded by platform, but also by medium. Consumers can now also buy on their desktop PC in the office, on their laptop in the garden, on their tablet PC whilst watching TV or their smartphone whilst walking to the bus stop or waiting in the shops for their partner to come out of the cubical having decided to buy that pair of jeans.
The opportunities for people to purchase and consume products are seemingly limitless. The companies that succeed in this new retail environment will be the ones that understand and make the most of these new opportunities – in a way that is both efficient and cost-effective.
Businesses no longer can afford just to have a digital marketing plan – they need a business plan to suit the digital world. Integrating all aspects of your business into a digital, cloud setting has to be the way forward. All your touch points, digitally at least, have to be seamlessly connected to the functional and marketing aspects of your business. The message you give in your product descriptions for the items you retail via Amazon need to match the brand you have established though your social media efforts and offline marketing promotion. It is technology that allows you to do this. We’ve also seen how simple ‘nudges‘ can improve click through rates on Facebook, Google and Twitter:
It’s going to be warm, I think you need some: Domori Amarene Cherries Covered in Dark Chocolate http://t.co/TA7NeCG4eb
— Chocolatiers (@ChocolatiersUK) May 23, 2014
Often, however, small nudges, even if you implement many sequentially won’t be enough to deliver the step-change in performance this fast-paced world demands. Sometimes, you have to admit that the time is right to consolidate your efforts (and expenses) into one holistic platform which can solve a multitude of issues consecutively. A platform that allows you to load your products into primary platform (or a new one) and uses SaaS technology, much in the same way as Bondable or IFTTT to power other platforms.
With Cloud Fulfilment, when you load a new line to your primary platform, whether it is Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Woocommerce, Open Cart or OScommerce your desired settings will determine their inclusion in ebay, Amazon and/or Play.com. It will also determine which couriers will be used; such as DPD, TNT, Parcelforce, DHL, City Link and DX and the exact nature of the fulfilment part of running an ecommerce business.
Can you feel how much more efficient you can be yet?
But there is much more to it than just the obvious operational efficiencies
Customer satisfaction is so vital and human cost so great that you just have to find procedures and platforms to improve the former without excessively increasing the later. For example, If a customer orders 58 pairs of shoes, your stock levels have to be accurate whether that customer orders from your own website, on Amazon, ebay and even if they call you up directly or visit a store if you have one.
The cost of having your customer service agent call or email that customer to tell them you don’t have the stock can not only be counted in staff-hours spent, but also the customer loyalty lost.
Multichannel marketing via a cloud-based platform allows you to do this. You can manage your message, product range and stock levels from one central resource. You can give different staff members access to different parts of the fulfilment process, but it all works from the one, efficient system. This is the goal of business: make the constitute parts of the fulfilment process to work as if they don’t even exist – whilst more effort is spent on growing the business.
As competition is generally increasing as barriers to entry in many sectors become almost non-existent the areas that will allow you to grow are customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customers marketing your products for you. But that shouldn’t mean seeing your own website as the sole marketing method. Customers who love the convenience of Amazon should be able to share and purchase your products on their just as if they are firmly ingrained into the eBay ecosystem. It is important, therefore, to recognise that it is often worthwhile to promote those platforms as it is your own. Your role should not be on focusing on selling more per platform, but more per customer – whichever platform they use.
But wouldn’t changing our processes cost more?
No – we’ll go in to pricing in a minute, but PWC rightly states: ‘[this] one takes courage .. it’s a brave CFO significant expenditure in new systems. But there is no other way. Five years ago no-one predicted the impact of Twitter would have – or even saw it coming; what will be the next big thing? The cost of acting to exploit these trends could be nothing to the opportunity cost of failing to act at all.’
The notion above is correct: businesses have to react to the changing habits of digitally-native consumers. However, their belief that any CFO may have reservations about funding a change in platform is predicated on view that these platforms are expensive. This perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Storage with Cloud Fulfilment starts at just £0.33+vat per day per cubic meter, pick and Pack costs from £1.50+vat per SKU to £0.10+vat per additional SKU within the same order and delivery costs from £0.52+vat for economy large letter postage to £3.14+vat for a 250g packet being shipped to the EU. Each business will have their own specific requirements (you can ask for a quote here), but we should dispel the notion that multichannel marketing with outsourced fulfilment and warehousing need be expensive.
We have seen that multi-channel marketing is essential in today’s digitally omnipresent world, that it offers both significant operational and customer service gains, but also is not expensive. Outsourcing won’t be right for every online retailer, but those growing at a pace and require low costs and flexibility, there just isn’t a better method to keep your fulfilment capacity growing at the same pace.