If we define four pillars of any business it includes production, finance, marketing and distribution. These foundational pillars establish longevity and sustainability of any startup. All those departments are complimentary for each other, no business can make success at the cost of any one of them. There is a possibility that a business with great offerings and products don’t have loyal customer ship as compare to business, having average products supported with customer support services and reliable delivery options.
Today we are focusing on one such core pillar; which is distribution in general and delivery network chain for ecommerce startup in specific. From all the four main pillars of business; distribution is mostly the most interactive and direct, in respect of brand experience and public interaction. Further, this cost is your business’ enabling cost, making your ready stock eligible for sale.
Things as to distribution and delivery chain are categorized under two broad categories; first we will going to consider things under our control or internal factors, second we will discuss things not under our control or external factors.
a. Internal Factors:
Must Haves for E-Commerce Delivery, Distribution and Supply Chain
During establishment of proper supply chain, no thing is stand alone or secluded in its capacity. These internal stock management related matters are as important for distribution and delivery as to have any best courier service provider. Therefore, we hereby discuss matters to consider first, before going into agreement with any distribution company. These are in a way tips to stream line stock management system for any business.
1. Proper stock maintenance
There must be a strong stock management system there to ensure rapid and as demanded delivery to customer. Stocks can be managed through various state of the art soft wares or tools, but it must have to be combination of some physical check standards and some automated system generated reports. This way a cross check mechanism can be establish on the most sensitive part of a business.
An ecommerce startup can use woo-commerce like plugins within store website for computerized record maintenance and real time intimation of stock threshold limit. But this one is very limited as far as reporting details are concerned. For full time stock maintenance and reporting, management softwares like Oracle, SAAP, Quick Books or MS Excel Solutions are highly recommended because of their customization, detailing and real time reporting. Such record keeping along with third party periodical physical stock inspection make sure true and fair reporting of inventory stocks.
2. Have multiple service providers on panel
Having different service providers on panel can benefit an ecommerce setup many ways. This practice will provide your business more exposure to new destination along side more competitive and fair rates. This will establish your business vigilance regarding new developments and service offerings in delivery service sector.
3. Efficient & responsive customer support
Surprisingly this may not sound stock management practice, but keeping customer under confidence regarding availability of options and new arrival updates, should be part of customer support and business marketing plans. Sometime product lead time may face lag due to production or supplier issues; but keeping customer informed and timely updated can earn you more loyalty and customer retention.
4. Weight, packaging & delivery handling
An ecommerce business must keep controlled procedures for accurate record keeping and reporting. Before delivery a business should keep record of all packing material and weight of every shipped products. This will help to keep accurate and reconciled record of shipped items and can save delivery cost. This practice of record keeping is must have, as sometime courier companies shows negligence or sometime they wrongly round off weights for extra charge of shipping expenses.
5. Liaison between customer and carrier
An active customer support system should also have liaison role between customer and courier company. This practice must have to be in place, as all delivery chain is an integral part of customer-brand experience. Handing over shipment to carriage is not enough, as customer wants continuous follow up until they get their package.
b. External Factors
What to Check Before Taking Courier Company on E-Commerce Delivery Panel?
Opting which company to take and which to not, should not be based on any one single factor or single point like just less rates etc. A decision should be based on these seven factors; not exclusive one but must be part of your business consideration. This list is also very important, as this will help to build your shipping limit and average order value you want.
1. A Trade off between rates, reach, speed and service
These four things are the key for any good option to opt for. Which is rates; these must be very competitive ones, obviously. Reach; which should be as high as it can be. Speed; with increasing trends in quick delivery options, this time of delivery should not be more than three days; lesser is best. Service includes, customer support, resolution system, connectivity and trackability.
Our decision should include all matters all in once. Say if carriage company offers lowest rates but at the expense of efficient professional service, then this should not be part of your consideration. Because it may can give you less shipping cost but might be at the expense of customer. Therefore, it is highly recommended to keep expensive but efficient and professional carrier, rather than a non-professional carrier with lesser reach, support & service.
2. Market reputation
This is a bit non technical aspect, as far as service provider’s abilities and facilities are concerned. But yet, this factor should be included in all business collaborations. Why this aspect matter; because carriage mishandling and misappropriation is a biggest risk factor along with service reputation. Therefore, do consider market reputation of any collaborating partner in business.
3. Assurance & insurance
This particular aspect is specially very important for high value or sensitive shipments. A good carriage should include indemnity clause along with complete scenario based solutions and insurance services. A startup with fancy or delicate items must opt out for such insured options, even at slight addition in shipping rates. Because it will reduce your risk of loss and damage.
4. Means of transportation & Local network
Do check whether a service provider have modern means of transportation or not. It may include own sourced facilities or collaborative facilities. Like some courier companies use airplanes for longer distance journeys, which is very useful for same day or overnight deliveries. Like wise some foreign carriers are providing drone and driver less cart deliveries within same day. Which is future centric.
5. After sale & handling services
It includes swift payment processing and other complimentary services. Swift payment processing ensure stable working capital. Therefore, payment lag time should be as minimum as possible. But this is not to be the sole criteria. Sometime bulk amount become more important than swift processing of small and junk amounts. Further, if you don’t have any warehouse or don’t have any setup place to run your drop shipping business, then do check stock management and handling services of carriers.
6. Economies of scale
This negotiable point should be part of your long term shipping cost reduction. As good companies provide rates reduction with the increase in shipments. This will provide you rate competitiveness and cost saving.
Summary & Conclusion:
In summary an ecommerce drop shipping business should make informed decision before going into agreement with any courier service provider, by taking into consideration of all internal and external factors. These internal factors are as important as any other external factors, while choosing courier service providers. As this cohesive system will make sure true and fair reporting and maintenance of startup’s business inventory.
Top COD courier companies in Pakistan:
- Leopards Courier Services
- MnP- M&P Expresess Logistics
- Daewoo Fastex
- Urgent Mail Service (UMS) by Pakistan Post
- Blue Ex
- Call Courier
Recommended Read: Why Business & Startup Fail?