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Creating an online store – easy-peasy or a complete headache?

Online commerce volumes are on the rise, and many companies that have so far operated only as classical stores may consider opening an online store. They already have the products and sending them out does not seem like a very difficult task. However, the logistics of an online store are not quite the same as in a classical store. A task that seems simple can become really difficult and be a big challenge for all employees of the company.

Before you start setting up your online shop, there are a few things to think about and consider whether you have enough capacity to deal with online commerce by yourself or if you could have a partner to help you. 

 Before creating an online shop, it is smart to consider the following questions as an initiative:

  • How  big is the amount of additional sales coming through the e-store?
  • How big should your stock be?
  • How do you plan to set up an online shop: should you buy a ready-made solution or build your own systems?
  • Where do you pick up orders and how do you send them?
  • What kind of packaging should you use and where do you store those?

The first steps in creating an online store

When creating an online store, it is important to pay attention to the customer experience – speed, convenience, availability of information and getting answers to questions. Comparing online shops, the speed of the service provider counts first and foremost for the customer. The customer buys the product from the store where the goods are already in stock, not “on order” or “7-21 days with delivery”. 

When setting up an online shop, one option is to buy a ready-made solution and adapt it to your business needs. Another option is to find a developer and build an online store directly on your existing systems. When doing it by yourself, you must definitely take into account that the online shop also needs constant attention, developments, maintenance, innovations, etc. Continuous self-development, editing and contributing are important to keep your keyword competitive.

When ordering and sending goods, you have to decide whether to do it with your employees from the company’s own warehouse / store and let your own people pass on the information to the parcel / courier companies, or instead you buy the warehousing service with transport from somewhere else. In the latter case, you could integrate your system with that of the warehousing service provider, and the prices for transport to the end customer may be cheaper, as the logistics company has larger volumes than taking an offer from the volumes of only one online store.

What does the online shop ordering route look like if the warehouse service has been purchased from a service provider?

In the macro view, there are several systems and participants between which information must flow: the seller’s systems and business software, the online store with its payment solutions, the software of the warehouse service provider or its own warehouse accounting module, the systems of courier companies.

First, the correct information about the quantity of goods in stock must be entered in the online store window, or an indication informing the customer whether the goods are “in stock” or whether a certain number of days of waiting time is required for shipment. If the customer places an order, the order must reach the merchant’s own system as well as the system of the warehouse or warehouse service provider and the selected courier service or “last mile” provider.

These systems provide the merchant with information on the packaging, quantity, confirmation and / or tracking number of the shipment. Labels with shipment information, which are in a format compatible with the courier service provider’s systems, could already be added to the packaging at the merchant’s warehouse. Based on these labels, the courier knows how to deliver the parcels to the right place.

Today, there is a situation where every merchant has developed a so-called “own” solution. Some have everything automated and some have separate people for those who manually enter online store orders into the company’s business software and warehouse system, then order transport from the courier page or take the parcels to the parcel machines themselves. It all depends on the size of the company, the possibilities and the daily number of orders.

A good customer service representative may not be a good warehouse worker

If the online store’s orders are collected by on-site employees in the store, there may be certain risks that need to be taken into account. First, lack of resources. During campaign sales, it is likely that the number of orders will increase exponentially and a situation will arise where the merchant alone will not be able to serve these volumes on a short-term basis. As a result, customers may experience resentment and dissatisfaction with the place of purchase, despite a good purchase price. Price is an important aspect, but it is important to keep promises and deliver the product to the buyer within a reasonable time.

Another risk may be the competence of the service provider. When dealing with online store orders themselves, customer service representatives play the role of a warehouse employee, but they are not comparable and need different competencies. This can lead to assembly errors, and dealing with and correcting these returns later is really problematic.I know from my own experience that when ordering sports shoes for a child from the online store, we wait for the package for three weeks and finally the order arrived, then the same shoes were from a different size numbers.

Logistika Pluss helps to simplify running an online shop

Logistika Pluss offers its customers an all-in-one package, where our warehouse system is interfaced with the merchant’s systems, either directly or through brokerage programs, keeping the stock balance always correct. When the order arrives, it reaches our system directly and therefore the waiting time for starting the assembly is eliminated, and at the same time the information passes through the Logistika Pluss solution to the “last mile” provider. The order is assembled in the time window agreed with the merchant, and when the courier company arrives, the parcels are nicely packed, sorted and ready to be shipped. However, merchants can focus on their core business – growing sales and developing sales channels.