If you are not currently selling your products online, you could be missing out on a large number of sales. An online presence opens up access to an extensive consumer base that you otherwise would not be able to reach via conventional means, and with developing countries continuing to expand their internet provisions and consumers continually turning to electronic devices to fulfil their retail needs, the trend in e-commerce continues to grow.
E-commerce is a lucrative market, with sales between 2015 and 2020 expected to grow by a cumulative 128.9%, and worldwide retail e-commerce sales projected to top $4 trillion by 2020 according to eMarketer.
Growth of sales has been dramatically aided by the introduction of online events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and more recently Amazon Prime Day.
Rising online sales not only brings benefit to large retailers but also to smaller SME’s and independent sellers. E-commerce has become a good way for SME’s to grow their business, without even having to have a bricks and mortar presence or even the need for their own e-commerce site as smaller merchants are able to utilise online platforms such as Amazon and China’s Alibaba to reach larger audiences.
It’s not only consumers in their home market that vendors are reaching through their online presence. Global cross border e-commerce is on the rise – 45% of online shoppers are expected to buy products from other countries by 2020. Sales of ‘Brand Britain’ goods are strong in developing countries, where UK produce is seen as being of a high quality, whilst a survey by Postnord found that 63% of UK online consumers made purchases from overseas merchants in 2016. This rise in cross border e-commerce enables UK companies to capitalise on regional events such as China’s Singles Day and India’s Great online shipping festival.
Whilst opportunities to reach additional markets to increase sales have expanded, the process of delivery for products is key to ensure company reputation and to keep consumers’ coming back for more.
In order to meet customer’s expectations you need a strong supply chain. As a business you want to ensure that you can accommodate demand and deliver within an acceptable timescale, and you want to do this within a reasonable cost.
Whether your business model involves you importing products from overseas markets to sell online to UK buyers, or exporting products to overseas consumers purchasing through your online site, you want to source a reliable carrier for your shipments. Enlisting the service of a freight forwarder enables you to take advantage of the freight forwarder’s experience in working with a range of carriers and they can choose the best one to fit your business requirements. Furthermore, working with a freight forwarder to arrange your shipments can lessen overheads, thus increase profitability. As the freight forwarder has multiple clients, through arranging consignments for these various retailers they get preferential rates from the carriers. Another added bonus is that your chosen freight forwarder will be able to advise on any relevant documentation and additional charges applicable, in ensuring the smooth transportation of your products.
If you are looking to sell on an online platform such as Amazon, many freight forwarders will also have the awareness of the specific, strict requirements for delivery of goods to the fulfilment centres, such as the acceptable pallet sizes and labelling.
If your products are not headed for an e-retailers fulfilment centre, then there are other third-party solutions that can benefit your business.
Utilising a 3PL to store your products until required is beneficial in that there is no large scale investment required by yourself in purchasing your own storage space. And this space can be adapted to accommodate your business needs as required – As your business grows, you can upscale to accommodate the additional stock, and during quieter periods, you can downscale the space allocated, so you are not paying for unutilised storage.
In addition to providing storage solutions, a 3PL offers the added benefit of a complete fulfilment solution, meaning you can leave the entire distribution of your products to the professionals.
Customers can shop and pay online with orders being automatically fed to the warehouse fulfilment systems. From here your 3PL provider will arrange the pick and pack of these items, including labelling, and even bespoke customer requirements such as gift wrapping, and deliver direct to your customer. The 3PL will also keep track of your inventory via their warehouse management system to automatically ensure that stock levels are maintained, helping you to prevent disappointment amongst your consumers of finding that, when they go to purchase your products, the goods are out of stock.
If your chosen 3PL operates a bonded warehouse and offers Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP), you can also benefit from significant cash flow benefits. No duty or vat will be payable on products until goods are sold. If your products have come from outside of the EU, then no duties or vat will be payable at all on sales to consumers outside of the EU.
So, if you want to maximise your business potential, now is the time to explore e-commerce options, and with the capability to offer you a one-stop solution for all of your supply chain needs, the team here at Velta are on hand to help get you started.