When planning to transition your business from a wholesale/retailer model to an e-commerce business model, it is best to start with the end in mind – your new customers. This will affect how you think of infrastructure and how you maximize the utilization of your current people and assets while minimizing disruption to existing operations.
Your new infrastructure design should be a cohesive and finely tuned ecosystem that enables you to be efficient, agile and profitable. You need a clear understanding of who will order your goods online to make the appropriate decisions regarding the physical, technological and organizational aspects of your business.
Whether your web customers are, for example, mothers, young professionals, or multi-site businesses, they usually share the following characteristics:
They have mature online shopping habits and expect to have all the information about a product to be readily available to streamline their shopping process.
You will need to provide answers to questions such as:
›› Is this product in stock? When will I receive it?
›› What are the delivery/pick-up options? Are orders easy to track?
›› If I order multiple products but some are backordered, do I have to wait or will I receive multiple packages?
›› What is the delivery cost?
They don’t need to touch and feel the product in order to decide if they will buy it, however they rely on reviews from their peers to choose where to shop and what to buy.
They want to know:
›› What is available online – every single product, only specific product lines or best sellers for each product line?
›› Is it easy to return the product? Can I do it in store or just via mail?
Decisions regarding how customers will shop drive the planning and execution of your process, layout and systems.
›› How will inventory be allocated to orders? How will the WMS communicate with the website?
›› Will we use a single parcel carrier or multiple one?
›› How will orders be packaged? Is there a customization element? Will we insert marketing material?
You need a clear understanding of who will order your goods online to make the appropriate decisions regarding the physical, technological and organizational aspects of your business.
For more insights on the topic, download LIDD's eBook How to Integrate eCommerce Distribution Into Your Existing Operations.