Not quite long ago, the eCommerce industry took the world by a storm; consumers can, from the comfort of their homes, place orders for products from anywhere in the world and get their orders delivered to their doorsteps; it was unprecedented. eCommerce gave the brick and mortar form of retailing a big jolt; it is becoming almost an anathema to run a brick and mortar; consumers are more comfortable conducting online transactions, especially in the retail sector.
By any yardstick, eCommerce is a revolution in the retailing sector. When more than two billion people decided to purchase goods or services online in 2020, and e-retail sales accruing from this number of people was over $4.2 trillion, nobody needs to tell you that the eCommerce industry is the place to be.
The eCommerce business requires you to keep an inventory of products you sell, display your products on your website, and get consumers to place orders for the products they want to purchase. You must also enhance the shipping of products to your customers.
The eCommerce business requires a lot of financial input; you must have the funds to stock a variety of products, pay employees, and have warehouses in different locations. Your warehouses will enable your customers who are scattered around the globe to enjoy good shipping time; there is also the need to ensure good cybersecurity practices since your business is solely online.
Where traditional eCommerce is a revolution, another revolution has occurred in the eCommerce sector, and that is dropshipping. For those new to dropshipping, taking a course like the Dropship Lifestyle, will be a great learning experience.
Dropshipping is an order fulfillment process; you don’t need to keep any inventory; you can start dropshipping with little or no funds. You, however, will need to get your client base, a laptop, available internet, a website, and reputable suppliers. It’s a branch of the eCommerce sector, and all your transactions are online.
Once your customers place orders, you get the manufacturer, wholesaler, or even another retailer to fulfill the orders. You don’t come in direct contact with the products you are selling; the supplier is responsible for the labeling, packaging, and shipping.
Just as your customers can order products from the comfort of their homes, you can also fulfill their orders from the comfort of your home. Dropshipping enables you to focus on your brand while the supplier focuses on sourcing, tracking, fulfillment, warehousing, and shipping.
Dropshipping is a game-changer in the eCommerce industry, however, your relevance in the market depends on the quality of customer experience. One important factor in a quality customer experience is shipping time.
What is the shipping time?
In dropshipping, you can break shipping time into two categories. Because drop shippers don’t come into direct contact with the products customers purchase, the first aspect of fulfilling orders from customers depends on when the wholesaler receives the order, sources for the product, labels, and packages the product for onward delivery to the shipping agency.
With some wholesalers, this may take up to two days; you, however, need to know that your customer starts counting the days from the moment the payment for the order is made. The second part of shipping time is when the shipping agency receives the product and delivers it to the doorsteps of your customer.
Your customer does not know the wholesaler or the shipping agency; every buck stops on your table. You take all the responsibilities for the quality of the product and delivery.
Shipping time is very vital to your success in dropshipping; because of the minimal financial requirements you may need to start up a dropshipping business, it has become very competitive, and you must put in some extra effort to remain relevant. You will be competing with eCommerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart, AlibabaExpress, and HyperSKU, who are introducing automation into the dropshipping business to ensure quicker shipping times.
Incidentally, your customers know about these giants and still seek out your services; the revolution is not privy to you; others want to cash in on the trillion U.S. dollars business. Your relevance in the market will, to a large extent, depend on how you can improvise.
A good way to handle shipping time is by being transparent; on your website and Q&A pages, you must honestly tell customers all they need to know about shipping time. If you can’t deliver products within 2-5 days and others are doing it, explain your constraints to your customers; tell them when you will deliver their products and keep to it.
There are product review sites you can leverage to find out what the competition is doing differently and adopt some of their measures. Even if you can start a dropshipping business with little or no funds, that does not mean you can’t invest some financial resources to enhance better opportunities for your brand in the market.
Improving customer experience in the dropshipping business revolution
AI and machine learning are two crucial advancements businesses leverage today to enhance customer satisfaction. Customer experience is vital to your survival in this revolution.
You must keep open channels of communication with your customers; email is still very relevant in the business world; it’s also a cheap means of reaching your customers. However, you must desist from sending generic messages; customers today want to be identified as real individuals and not as ordinary numbers.
Something like “Dear John” resonates better with a customer than “Dear customer;” looking along different time zones, you must endeavor to segment customers into groups and know when to send messages. Demographics also play important roles in enhancing customer experience.
Looking at the dropshipping business as a revolution in the eCommerce industry because you don’t need so much financial input to start up is real, however, the sector has become highly competitive; the giants are out there in the market, and you must contend with them. Relevance in the dropshipping business requires that you think out of the box.
A little shift away from the norm does not mean you are not doing dropshipping; it only means you are changing the narratives for a better customer experience, which ultimately will yield better ROI.