For all those whose businesses entail e-commerce, there is always this looming fear about its success and failure. How exactly do we ensure that our e-commerce venture remains a success.
Define the Operational Model:
The online store is no less than any physical store. And it essentially functions the same way as a physical store. The products have to be stocked, ordered, shipped, delivered and returned if required. It is a complex process which involves the management of inventory, integration with shipping providers, credit cards processors and managing customer orders. As a result, for the smooth functioning of any new e-commerce it requires careful spelling out of the operational processes.
This involves many crucial decisions to be made such as which products are to be sold, which should be displayed to the viewers on the online catalog, which of these products need to be promoted to optimize the sales etc. Many startup e-commerce sites upload their entire product catalog online and expect customers to search, find and buy the products. Online, you have even more tools available to do so effectively from A/B testing, product recommendations, analytics, and marketing automation.
Merchandising needs to take place in conjunction with the inventory management. Your merchandisers need to know what products are in stock, are running low, are getting out of season and so forth, for them to adjust the online catalog accordingly.
Marketing & Customer Attraction
To get customers to buy these products online, effective communication and advertisement investments are needed. The main plus point of e-commerce sales is that they are 100% trackable and it’s easy to measure which activities lead to online purchases. Therefore the budget for your marketing campaign can be calculated based on your conversion rate, product price and advertising spent.
This process whereby the customer places their order is a simple automated process, Where products preferred are added to the cart and are checked out for delivery. But there are a lot of things to be taken care of such as what if the product just became unavailable while placing the order, what if the shipping fees need to be calculated, the order contains multiple items that need to be split into multiple shipments or the address of the customer requires additional details. All these processes need to be clearly defined so that the order placement can be implemented accordingly.
Payment Processing and Order Completion
A wide number of payment methods can be given for the customers to choose according to their convenience. It can range from credit cards to bitcoins or COD.
But whatever be the method of payment adopted, ensuring high level of security is your paramount responsibility. Therefore it is essential to ensure whichever provider you choose offers the latest security standards. Also, the payment provider should ideally support refunds that can be triggered directly from your online orders back office for you to be able to manage returns or refunds efficiently.
Upon order completion a confirmation is sent both ways to the customer and to your warehouse to prepare for package and dispatch. Everything from printing pick lists, and sending notifications will be handled during this stage.
Warehouse fulfillment & Shipment
During this stage, it is essential to have an excellent way to track which items have been picked together as well as providing a way for warehouse staff to communicate back to the order system in the event there are any changes, missing items, etc.
Customers must be provided the facility to track and trace their order and where it has reached and when it is likely to arrive.
Returns & Customer Care
In case of any dislike or any other issue that the customer faces on receiving the product, there should be an effective system in place to take back the product, provide refunds or equivalent exchange within a limited time period.