A rise in online orders can be a blessing and a curse for companies.
If your ecommerce logistics are in a position to cope with this increase in business then it’s the former. But if you don’t have everything set up then it’s the latter.
If you’re not in a position to cope with this influx of business then you might need to review your warehouse management system, your product creation process or a range of other factors.
We’ve highlighted four tactics that you can use to deal with a rise in online orders, giving you the tools to cope in the best and worst-case scenarios.
Our first tactic looks at what you can do if you’ve got enough stock but your supply chain can’t cope with the rise in orders. It’s probably the best position to be in because it has the simplest solution — either use a third-party distributor or handle the deliveries in-house.
Using a distributor should be pretty straightforward.
The top ecommerce platforms allow you to link your store to your pick of organisations whose fulfilment centres can handle your orders. Indeed, it may be that you have an existing provider who can support this.
One thing to keep in mind is shipping costs; if your uplift in orders comes from end destinations in far-flung regions of the world then you might need to pay higher delivery costs. If this is the case then you’ll need to make sure your customers from these areas are fully aware of the price of getting goods delivered from your business.
Handling deliveries in-house is another straightforward option.
It’s pretty simple — you just get your employees to deliver products directly to your customers using company vehicles (an investment, but one worth making if you’re really scaling up). You can use software such as telematics to track the journeys made to make deliveries. This creates an insurance policy to ensure your drivers don’t drive erratically and risk damaging the goods during transition.
This is important because your company will have to cover the costs (literal and reputational) if your customers receive products they aren’t happy with.
So, if your orders have gone up and your supply chain can’t cope then use a third-party distributor or handle the deliveries in-house.
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Our second method tackles a scenario where your supply chain is able to deliver your goods but your stockpile/supply of products isn’t sufficient to meet demand. We won’t lie, this can be a tricky situation to resolve.
The reason it’s a tough problem to fix is that you might not be able to simply request more products from your suppliers or boost your internal resources. We’re talking here about if you sell bespoke goods.
The issue with this is that if you’re the only person who can create the products then you can’t simply duplicate yourself. However, there are a couple of things you can do:
Of course, if your ecommerce business doesn’t sell tailor-made items, then things are much simpler. You can meet the increased product interest by getting more staff or placing more orders with your suppliers.
Take the approach we’ve outlined based on the nature of the ecommerce goods you sell. Doing so will keep your supply of goods high enough to meet the increased demand.
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Our third strategy looks at a worst-case scenario for your ecommerce company: you’re out of stock of your best-sellers and there’s no way around it. You can’t easily increase the number of products you have and the cost of bolstering your supply chain is too great.
It’s a horrible position to be in but there’s a way of dealing with it in real-time, while you resolve the issues with your inventory management and the ecommerce logistics associated with distribution. You direct your customers to existing, complementary products on your website.
You’ll need new content to be able to redirect your customers, something you can do via a 302 redirect page.
We’ll explain the why and how of this but be warned, it needs to be dealt with carefully to ensure your company retains a high level of customer service.
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A 302 page effectively takes down your product page. Your customers can still arrive at it but it won’t display your products.
Instead, it’ll explain that the page is temporarily unavailable. This is where you add content explaining that these products are currently out of stock but you have other great — and available — items they will love.
If you create a 302 redirect then the content on it must sensitively address your customer’s expectations. You need to apologise for the inconvenience and give them an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the situation.
Because of this, we recommend that you add the details of your customer services team to your 302 redirects. This way you have a chance to proactively address any concerns your customers have with your business and assure them that you’re in control of the situation.
Our fourth approach to dealing with a rise in online orders is the worst-case scenario.
It’s where you simply can’t offer your customers any alternative but to wait while your business readjusts to the increased demands for your services.
This is a customer service nightmare because you’re not really offering your customers anything aside from your word that you’ll one day be able to give them what they want. However, you can make this work if you create a reserve list for your customers to book in an order.
Giving your customers the opportunity to reserve an order, so they can buy it when it’s back in stock means you don’t lose their business. The payoff is that you extend the buying process, so you need to work hard to keep them happy.
Something that’s non-negotiable in this situation is that you need to notify your customers as soon as the item they’ve reserved is back in stock. You might also want to give them individual tracking numbers so they can check in on the progress.
One thing that’s up to you is whether you offer a discount. We highly recommend that you do offer this because this then gives your customers compensation for the inconvenience you’ve put them through.
So, if you’re really stuck and need time to speak to logistics providers and come to terms with the increase in your online orders then create a reserve list. Just make sure you look after the customers that take this up.
Expanding your existing supply chain, increasing your sales offering, directing your customers to complementary items and creating a reserve list are all great ways to deal with an increase in online orders.
So, use the approach that’s appropriate to your company and you’ll soon be in a position to take advantage of the new business that’s coming your way.