Fulfillment Operations 6 min read
September 25, 2021 by Srishti Arora - 6 min read
Shipping and handling are probably one of the most integral aspects of any e-commerce fulfillment supply chain. Several touchpoints are essential to make the shipping and handling process a smooth ride. With the speed at which e-commerce and online shopping are growing in India, it is crucial to understand the need for a simplified fulfillment chain to ensure a delightful delivery experience for your customers.
You need to optimize every step of the operation so that you can make the most out of every action and deliver the best results to your customer in record time. Let’s look at what shipping and handling are and the role they play in your e-commerce fulfillment supply chain. Furthermore, let’s discuss what you need to keep in mind for planning a shipping and handling strategy and how you can successfully outsource shipping and handling operations to increase revenue and boost sales.
What are Shipping and Handling?
Shipping refers to the process of delivering the product from the shipping carrier to the consumer’s address. The fees include two surcharges, fuel charges, and all that, middle, and last-mile operations.
Handling refers to the operations before the shipping, including picking, inventory management, packaging, shipping label generation, etc. Handling costs include the labor charge, packaging material cost, storage cost, etc.
What to Keep in Mind When Planning a Shipping and Handling Strategy?
There are three things you must keep in mind while preparing a shipping and handling strategy. These include the availability of skilled resources, the location of your warehouse, and the technical infrastructure you have for your business.
Having skilled resources on your team means that you will process orders faster and ship them sooner. If you do not have experienced help in place, you are prone to making a more significant number of human errors, and you will miss out on a few orders if the team does not act promptly. A cross-trained workforce will be even more beneficial for your e-commerce business as they will be able to conduct several handling operations at once. And also, your operations will not be affected in case of the absence of anyone.
Location of Your Warehouse
The following integral aspect of your strategy is the location of your warehouse. The location of your warehouse will decide how fast you can ship your products, how soon they will be delivered, and the raw materials and human resources you will find. If your warehouse location is highly isolated, you will need to pay additional money to bring your resources to the warehouse. Moreover, it will be more challenging to set up the technical infrastructure and maintain it for a more extended period. This will incur a significant number of losses as compared to profits. Moreover, the customer‘s location will be far off, and you will take a longer time to ship and deliver your products.
The following requirement for planning your shipping and handling strategy is anticipating the technical infrastructure required. The technical infrastructure will help you lay the foundation for the operations, and you will be able to process orders faster with a robust technology stack.
Importance of Shipping and Handling
Shipping and handling directly affect the delivery times in cost. Suppose the shipping and handling are not up to the mark. In that case, they can significantly impact customer acquisition and loyalty and cause brand dilution on social media due to negative customer experience. Also, incorrect shipping and handling can lead to a high number of RTO orders.
What Type of Shipping Does the Customer Expect?
These days customers expect free shipping as there is enormous competition and many brands are offering it. With Amazon’s prime offering, most customers have gotten used to the idea of free shipping. The many ways to provide free shipping or as follows –
- Include the shipping cost in the product cost. This will help you provide free shipping site-wide.
- Set up a threshold amount above which you would provide free shipping.
- Set up a loyalty program like Amazon prime, which runs on subscriptions.
Flat Rate Shipping
The next option is flat rate shipping. This refers to charging a fixed shipping rate for every order. Flat rate shipping should be the average cost across orders. This week, the shipping charge for some orders will not be recovered while some may be overcharged, and an overall equilibrium balance will be maintained. Flat rate shipping can also be provided across zones. So you can charge a flat rate in one zone and a different flat rate in another zone.
The following shipping that customers look for is express shipping. This refers to one day and today’s delivery. With fast shipping options available these days, customers’ expectations have changed drastically. If you want to provide express shipping to your customers, you can incur an additional express shipping charge, and most customers would be ready to pay for that. If not, you can find ways to stop products closer to your customer, so you can automatically provide them this option.
How to Successfully Outsource Shipping and Handling Operations?
Shipping and handling are crucial aspects of your fulfillment supply chain. Hence, they must be outsourced to the right people to ensure optimized operations and maximum output. Initially, it is a safe bet to run these operations yourself. However, when your business expands, it can get tedious to manage all operations under one roof. To grow your business, you need to innovate and try new strategies, and you cannot do that if you stay stuck on just fulfilling your orders appropriately. Therefore, outsourcing operations is a perfect option for you.
You can outsource e-commerce fulfillment operations to 3PL fulfillment providers like Shiprocket fulfillment. This will help you manage all processes, including inventory management, order management, packaging, shipping, and returns. All aspects of handling like packaging, packing, storage will be taken care of in the thoroughly equipped e-commerce fulfillment centers, and all components of shipping leg first Mile, mini Mile, last mail will also be taken care of by Shiprocket Fulfillment.
We have around eight fulfillment centers located across prime locations in India. These fulfillment centers are equipped with the latest warehouse management system, order management system, and logistics technology.
Shipping and handling need to be taken care of carefully before you start expanding your business. You must accept the suitable measures to run these operations and maintain synchronization between the two smoothly. We hope this article helped make you understand the importance of shipping and handling and its significance in the e-commerce business.