Online retailers never close and that, coupled with soaring demand and the global nature of e-commerce, is placing increasing pressure on order fulfilment and international parcel services. So how do you make sure that people, no matter where they are, get their products on time and with the kind of customer service they expect?
The realisation that the entire retail cycle needs to match the 24/7 availability of online operations and their products is a good starting point. More and more e-commerce firms are now forming agreements with international parcel companies and fulfilment houses to extend their services to every day of the week, including Sundays.
That's because people buying online are a very demanding lot. Purchasing something from a website on Friday and having to wait till Monday for the order to be fulfilled and then shipped is no longer an option for e-tailers. If it's not done straight after the order is placed, customers will quickly go elsewhere, and probably never come back.
Online retailers are, of course, tripping over themselves to come up with all sorts of novel ways to make the fulfilment and delivery process faster and more seamless, with everything from pick-up at locker train stations in the UK to delivery by drone and even a specialist 'mole' railway system being developed. But while that's all evolving, and some may not actually work out at all, the good news for e-tailers and their customers is that the logistics of getting the goods to the final destination is improving all the time.
How so? In Europe, for example, moves are under way to bring down so-called e-commerce barriers so that deliveries of goods can be improved. The representative body Ecommerce Europe is calling for a raft of measures to be introduced to facilitate better online trade.
"Merchants and consumers need a European-wide delivery system in order to create more innovation and greater transparency in the logistics chain," it says in a paper. "Additionally, more options are needed, including different offers, alternative affordable delivery options, more flexibility, more information and transparency from delivery service providers."
Read the full paper here.