Ben Woodward and Tash Jones from SmartFreight are experts in the shipping and fulfilment industry, which means they’ve spent 2020 getting to grips with how a global pandemic has changed the shipping habits of retailers. From getting stock into the warehouse to getting the parcel to the customer they have seen retailers across the world ripping up the rule book and making huge (and small) changes to enable them to continue to survive and thrive in these ‘interesting times’.
About Ben Woodward
Ben got into eCommerce through his partnership work at SmartFreight, specifically regarding how his retailers were using smart and connected technologies in their businesses.
Understanding how he could best help his retailers required him to get involved in eCommerce necessarily as the technologies grew. Ben is located in Australia.
About Tash Jones
Tash, like so many others, got into eCommerce by accident!
She worked for another software vendor handling in the shipping space and years ago started seeing the trend as more and more of her clients were eCommerce businesses.
Today, the two are inextricably linked. Tash is located in the UK.
2020 Big Surprises
- Late Adopters—Seeing eCommerce not integrated into different systems and shipping was actually a big surprise for Ben. Not having any infrastructure for online ordering and fulfillment was disastrous when Covid hit as almost everyone now orders online with very few people visiting bricks and mortar.
- Manufacturers Go B2C—Another major change was manufacturers taking on B2C. A lot of eCommerce folks weren’t really prepared for manufacturers going B2C and have had to quickly adjust.
- Consumers have been forgiving—But, the window of opportunity for forgiveness is closing according to Ben and he says people who need to catch up, should do so now.
- Holiday Volume All the Time—The shipping and transport infrastructure is also seeing peak season volume all the time.
The Three Elements of Successful Shipping for eCommerce
- Integration — Need to integrate eCommerce environments with shipping, tracking and delivery methods
- Automation — Automate wherever possible
- Visibility — Keep delivery transparent and visible on both ends of the transaction
Switching from Pallets to Packages
One of the biggest challenges for businesses switching from B2B to B2C fulfillment is the shift from shipping pallets to individual packages.
Ben says the most important thing to remember is that you can’t rely on a single carrier.
Having the ability to offer choice to the consumer about the shipping within your eCommerce infrastructure needs to be integrated within your sales channel.
Freight profiling is a term Ben uses to describe balancing your product with the freight options available to you.
While certain customers are willing to pay exorbitant fees for overnight delivery, most want the least expensive shipping option.
Understanding which item fits best with which freight providers weight limits, jurisdictions and delivery bands.
Trends in the Northern Hemisphere
In the UK, some of the larger retailers have everything in place and automated already. These companies were easily able to ramp up online sales since they had so much infrastructure in place already.
According to Tash, some of the smaller businesses who are seeing more demand for their products than perhaps ever before don’t have the level of automation in place necessary to deal with the demand.
She says that getting your data in order is really the first critical step for smaller businesses getting up and going.
Explosion in Volume of Parcels
To put the volume in perspective, Tash says that 34% of the Royal Mail’s volume rose in parcels instead of letters which comes to 177,000,000 in the space of 5 months.
This increased overall volume combined with major upcoming shopping events means that it’s more important than ever to automate and integrate several freight relationships.
Top Advice for Shipping in eCommerce
Even with all the tech in the world, Ben says you really need to maintain your relationships with your freight providers. The online and final mile delivery experience is incredibly important. Increasing delivery visibility is critically important for this.
Ben says that even if you’re experiencing delays, the customer experience is going to be better if they know what to expect. Tash backs up the positive customer experience piece.
Above everything else, she says, make sure you have the right communication processes in place.
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Linkedin Learning—it’s vast with great start up courses. It’s also great to get some new experiences in the time of locked down.
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Paid search—SmartFreight gets great results with the right person helping you set it up
Tool Top Tip
- Confluence for workflow collaboration
Growth Top Tip
- Integration—whether that’s a shipping platform, WMS or other. Just do it ASAP for fewer spreadsheets and better tracking.
- Frictionless eCommerce and the DTC Customer Journey Challenge Derek O’Carroll & Neil McKay
- To 6-figures in year 1 Stephen Wright of Micro Bikes UK GSC, Google Ads, Remarketing, Dropship
- Getting the foundations right for exponential growth with Bouq’s John Tabis
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