Creating an eCommerce Plan from Setup to Fulfillment

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Thrillworks, a collective of thinkers, makers, and technologists here to create meaningful end-to-end digital experiences.

Selling products or services online has gotten easier over the years. Websites have eCommerce plugins, dropshipping has been commoditized – but what sets great fulfillment apart is meeting customer needs. The problem is customers are more complicated than ever, they can browse and shop anywhere, and both the customer and their needs change all the time. Fulfillment that delivers aligns all aspects of your business from sales and marketing to customer service, operations, and, of course, the end-user experience.

Create a strategic eCommerce plan

In a previous article, we talked about the importance of keeping user-centricity in mind during every stage of the sales cycle as an effective way to address what the customer wants, how they want it, and when.

As part of your eCommerce plan, you need to identify the path that works best for your brand to be able to serve its customers. What can that look like?

  • Consider going direct to consumer – there are benefits for both parties in terms of affordability, profit, and flexibility
  • Invest in order to create demand – having a marketplace strategy can help build your customer database, be used as an additional channel for sales and marketing, and increase brand awareness and trust
  • Choose a reliable eCommerce partner - you need a platform that allows seamless integration of browsing and selecting inventory, payment options, accessibility, pick-up/delivery options, customer service, logistics, fulfillment, and more

A fast, flexible, easy-to-use system is key for success

“As a consumer, once I hit ‘buy,’ my experience with the brand includes communication, package tracking, ease of delivery, exchanges, and returns, without having to do much on my part,” says Douglas Riches, Chief Technology Officer at Thrillworks.

Imagine your package is delivered to your neighbor. The simple thing to do is knock on their door and retrieve it. What if the eCommerce business went a step further?

“As soon as I got in touch with Amazon, they sent me another one, no questions asked, and without me needing to return the item that got rerouted,” Doug notes. “This made my customer experience that much more satisfying.”

From a customer perspective, the end-user is looking for:

  • Price and product options
  • Speed and flexibility in finding, evaluating, purchasing, returning/exchanging, and delivery of items
  • Excellent customer service

From an enterprise level, a business being able to meet these needs should be looking for efficiency in order processing and inventory management, which can include ordering, storing, and utilizing raw and/or unfinished products, and most importantly, smooth order fulfillment.

“Moving things from point A to point B is not easy,” Doug explains. “Fulfilling your customer’s order from start to finish is complex, especially for large organizations. Choosing a technology platform that integrates preexisting software such as ERPs [enterprise resource planning] that handles everything from people to products can make the whole process so much smoother.”

Keeping command and control of your end-to-end fulfillment process

Each part of your production process needs to communicate with the others. Online and in-store sales must report to fulfillment centers and that’s just related to managing sales and delivery of finished products. Inventory and production forecasts need to be aligned to sales volume and component ordering from literally anywhere in the world.

“If you can choose a platform that helps you manage your internal organization, that will allow you to focus on what you’re good at – running your business,” Doug closes.

A good enterprise partner goes a long way – it helps sales and marketing, forecasting, everything involved in fulfillment, which ultimately impacts the entire customer journey and experience.
 

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eCommerce Strategy

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