The age of ecommerce means that consumer demand is accelerating. Shoppers know merchants are capable of delivering nearly anything within days and they have come to expect fast service. A recent SmartHub survey of online sellers found that, for the most part, companies have accelerated their efforts to speed delivery and offer value to their customers.
Within three days is key
According to the report, 65 percent of merchants are now able to get orders to customers in three days or fewer. The B2B integration process that make such a quick turnaround possible must be highly developed to bring a product from warehouse to doorstep quickly. Companies focusing on a multi-channel approach, rather than strictly ecommerce, also have to develop that deliver capability alongside its existing stock strategies. Customers expect a seamless and transparent omni-channel approach, and the researchers say that it is on the way.
"It is particularly interesting that a slight majority of merchants aren't yet providing omni-channel activity to customers through one source," said Jon Eggleton, a marketing and ecommerce expert. "We expect to see this trend change as customers push further for channel transparency."
A fast turnaround is limited by the connections between companies and their partners. A B2B integration strategy based on the latest cloud computing technology can help retailers here. Recent trends in integration have focused on making the digital exchange of information as quick and easy as possible, with secure file transfer now available at speeds that enable near-instantaneous turnaround. Companies will be unable to achieve the three day shipment mark if they can't deliver orders to their partners.
The multi-channel option
A move to a multi-channel model has held real benefits for companies. Marks and Spencer, a large chain retailer in the U.K., has found great success in the early stages of its ecommerce ramp up. In the fourth quarter of 2011, the chain gained 22.8 percent sales growth in its direct sales to customers, while the total group sales rose a mere 0.8 percent.
Internet Retailing, reporting the results, stated that while some of the company's initiatives such as overseas sales seem to be faltering, the strong online boost, the result of new customer service programs, according to company executives, is a good sign of a successful transition into a seller capable of reaching customers through many channels. A large, established company making the jump successfully could be inspiring news for its smaller and more agile peers.