ECOMMERCE CONSIDERATIONS

Smart Send says there are a number of elements you should consider if you are planning to go online

In the results of the AAAA’s Industry Council Market Study, ‘Developing eCommerce Platforms’ was listed in the top five strategies nominated by 4WD parts businesses looking to grow revenue over the next two to three years.
The 4WD parts industry is not alone in this either. Due to COVID-19, SmartSend says it has been inundated with queries from bricks and mortar retail businesses looking to go online, wanting to know what they should consider when it comes to shipping options and fulfillment for their ecommerce stores.
“In our 15 plus years as courier aggregators we have invested serious time and money in developing and perfecting shipping technology solutions for ecommerce,” Smart Send Director, Steven Visic, said.
“When merchants evaluate ecommerce platforms most look at how feature rich, cheap or expensive a platform is and it’s usability.
“These are all great things to take into account, but we look at it from a different angle altogether – shipping.”
Shipping may be a boring topic for some, however Smart Send says it is one of the most important things to get right if you want to scale quickly in ecommerce.
After all, when your business starts ramping up (and this can happen overnight if you’re doing things right) you don’t want to be behind the eight ball, unable to get goods shipped out easily and efficiently.
Smart Send recommends considering the following points when evaluating a new ecommerce platform or transitioning to a new platform:
• Hosting – server/hosting configuration is one of the biggest roadblocks when self-hosting your ecommerce solution. If you have developers that can help that’s great, but if not, look for a platform that hosts your site for you.
• Shipping APIs – does the platform provide an easy to digest API for developers to integrate with? If not, you may be stuck with no third-party apps/plugins or minimal choices to streamline your shipping.
• Support – can you get quick and easy support (with a human and not just ‘knowledge base’ articles)? Test this by lodging two or three support tickets over a week and see what the response times are or if they simply point you to self-help solutions.
• App/Plugin store – is there an easy one stop location to access apps or plugins to help your workflow and save money/time? Also are there lots of choices (Smart Send says that if there are not many, this most likely means it is a new platform or has no Shipping APIs available, or it’s too difficult to integrate with).

What is an API?
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a gateway that allows software to talk to other software and governs how that conversation takes place. It allows a developer to write code to one piece of software, that can then carry out certain actions, without a developer having to write that software from scratch.

Shipping Apps
Anyone that has used shipping apps knows they can’t do without them now. Particularly as your sales grow considerably, higher volumes of orders need to be shipped.
In this day and age, you can’t afford to be manually entering order information to generate shipping bookings and shipping labels and more importantly, you don’t need to as there are many solutions that can streamline or even automate these processes. Most of these work via an API that is provided by your carrier or shipping provider.
Shipping apps can provide the following time saving benefits when completing bookings for shipping (ie. fulfilling orders):
• No need to manually re-enter your customer’s name, phone number, delivery address, email address into the shipping platform.
• No need to manually re-enter the product/s weight and dimensions of item/s from the customer’s order into the shipping platform.
• Generates real time shipping quotes for you to choose from.
• Bulk fulfillment options – you can choose a range of orders to fulfill at once.
• Auto fulfillment options – set some fulfillment rules around when orders can be automatically fulfilled, pull up a chair and the app does the rest.
• Returns PDF shipping labels to your store automatically once orders are fulfilled.
• Updates tracking numbers in your webstore admin automatically upon fulfillment.
“We find shipping apps can save up to 95 percent of your time when fulfilling orders. If you’re a large operation, imagine the cost savings this can bring to your bottom line,” Steven said.

Added Value Benefits of Shipping apps
Apart from saving you time in the logistics part of your business, shipping apps can also add value in the following ways:
• Present real time shipping quotes at checkout to your buyers.
• Present flat rate or free shipping rates at checkout for buyers.
• Set up shipping rules/zones via SKU, postcode ranges, countries, cart value, etc which enables you to present a custom shipping rate to buyers at checkout.
• Enable ‘packages’ to be saved for quick use when fulfilling orders.
• Smart Packing ‘real time’ algorithms can combine multiple products in the cart into one condense shipping package to save on shipping costs and shipping labels.
• Generate PDF shipping labels to print.
• Generate picking slips.
• Provide merchant with warnings of order or shipping issues.
• Automatically update receiver of goods with a tracking number/link to allow them to track the order themselves.
Smart Send says if you are looking for help or objective/unbiased advice on shipping or going online, its team is more than happy to help.

To book a time to chat with the Smart Send team, go to www.smartsend.com.au