SINGAPORE, MONDAY 18 DECEMBER 2017 – For those of you who have decided to step into the e-commerce sector, the following figures may be familiar to you. In Singapore, the e-commerce market was worth US$3.3bn in 2017, with average revenue per user at nearly US$1,100. In 5 years’ time, this figure is expected to grow to US$5.49bn, and serve 4.1 million users by then. E-commerce is expected to grow from 54% penetration rate at present, to 71% by 2022.
It is not surprising to see e-commerce taking hold so strongly in the lives of Singaporeans, digital natives who are enjoying the merry results of a strong and secure digital infrastructure, combined with reasonably priced Internet access. (Even if this has resulted in a notoriously nose-in-screen approach to life, prompting at least one carrier to put out an advertisement reminding customers to re-connect with their loved ones in the flesh this Christmas!)
Go online to win, but be aware of challenges
With such encouraging numbers and strong customer demand, the logical next step for businesses is to go online. It should be an easy ride – just put your goods and services up on the Web for sale, and sit back and watch the profits roll in, correct?
Well, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. While Singaporeans are comfortable navigating the digital landscape and using electronic payments methods, they also have high demands. Things like same-day delivery and free delivery (logistical wonders in their own right) are seen by consumers here as the most basic of services.
Perhaps, e-retailers find ourselves in this situation partly because of the lively and competitive market. Whatever the reason, if you are to succeed in Singapore’s frenetic e-commerce space, you will need to extend your attention right up to when your customer receives their order. (After all, we know what happens when deliveries get delayed).
Last mile fulfilment is the name of the game
Now when we’re talking about last mile fulfilment, we really should be focussed on what happens in the period between the customer clicking ‘check out’ and the arrival of their goods. This void (during which there are no customer touch-points) is known as the ‘experience gap’.
No matter how well you do your branding, or how responsive you are on Facebook, or how funny you are on Twitter, or even how good your product is, all it takes is a screw-up during delivery to lose all the goodwill your customer previously had.
This is because even though delivery is but a small part of the entire online shopping experience, it also happens to be occupying that all-important “last mile”.
Although it sounds irrational, the time between when the product has been paid for and when it arrives is one of anxious anticipation for the customer. It is human nature to want to get our hands on something we already paid for, which is why a failed delivery is aggravating to many. (Not to mention, the time wasted, and the inconvenience of having to attend to another delivery.)
Whether a customer returns tomorrow depends on the experience they get today. This is especially true with the cornucopia of choice customers have in 2017. E-retailers who understand this will try to influence their customers’ experience at every touchpoint.
And perhaps, it is during the uncertainty of the ‘experience gap’ that this is most crucial.
5 points of success for last mile fulfilment
Online shops chase the all-important DIFOT (delivered in full and on time), but having the fastest fleet does not always win the game. The key term here is ‘on-time’. Successful last mile fulfilment involves multiple factors that could fill a whole textbook. But we can boil them down to these 5 factors:
- Can your customers choose/change their delivery windows? Life happens, and deliveries may need to altered. Recognising this will improve customer experience.
- Can you optimise deliveries with new orders added on the fly? Omnichannel fulfilment systems are the new gold standard.
- Can your buyers track their orders? With the ability to track even a bowl of noodles, you better believe your customers are watching you every step of the way.
- Are you in constant touch with customers after they check out? Consider providing automated reminders, updates and a way for your customer to reach your delivery team, and vice versa.
- Is your algorithm sophisticated enough? Make sure to invest in a system that is capable of optimising your logistic resources. For example, using digital mapping to determine the most cost-effective delivery and collection sequences, optimise routes and create feasible schedules.
How e-commerce players can bridge the gap
We’ve established that online shoppers in Singapore expect a seamless experience from start to finish, and have famously little tolerance for delays. Plus, we’ve seen that even larger, more experienced retailers can be caught off guard by Singaporeans’ voracious e-commerce appetite.
In order to ensure good customer loyalty in a crowded marketplace, how can e-retailers continue to influence customer experience during the gap? The answer lies in picking a last mile fulfilment solution that is seamless, responsive and scaled to your operations – no matter how it fluctuates.
Dynamic warehousing and logistics-on-demand
Forget about clunky, expensive solutions of yesteryear. The online world is moving fast, and offline counterparts need to catch up. Here at Synagie.com, we offer warehousing solutions that are perfectly scaled to the needs of your business – no matter how they change. Our pay-as-you-use model means no need for lengthy contracts, or large capital investment upfront. Get as much warehouse space as you need, when you need it. Return the space when you don’t – it’s that simple.
We pair our dynamic warehousing service with logistics-on-demand, which gives you the freedom to deliver (or we collect) your inventory on your schedule. Once delivered, your inventory is kept safe in our secured facility. Meanwhile, as orders come in, we automatically pick, pack, deliver and fulfil them for you. And best of all, you can keep watch over everything, and manage your business in real time from our Synagie dashboard.
This is just a brief introduction to what Synagie can do for your online business. If you’re ready to jump in, click here to start your free trial. Otherwise, drop us a line to request a no-obligation discussion on your business needs