China’s November 11, also known as Singles Day, is by now the largest e-commerce day in the world, beating the famous Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S. This year, there will be the first Singles Day after the retirement of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who started the sales phenomenon around a decade ago, and now handed the job over to Daniel Zhang.
Katie Kinraid, General Manager, APAC, BluJay Solutions, however has a warning for retailers participating in such huge sales events: “Singles Day can be a double-edged sword for retailers. This year’s event is expected to see visitor numbers rise to 500 million, an increase of 12.5%. While a short-term spike in revenue is on the table for those who participate, nowhere is the potential for reputational harm more in the balance than sales events”, she emphasizes.
But Singles’ Day doesn’t have to strike fear among retailers and supply chain professionals, but rather be considered beneficial, when following Katie Kinraid’s advices:
- Consider the delivery timeframe promised. At other times of the year, a fast delivery offering can mean the difference between a sale and cart abandonment, however speed takes a backseat during Singles’ Day; instead the deal on offer makes or breaks a purchase. Customers are willing to wait. So, retailers are advised to promise reasonable delivery timeframes.
- Harness opportunities for collaboration and streamlined workflow. End-to-end supply chain visibility allows tracking systems to update businesses and customers alike, while data-driven collaboration between logistics partners around the world can ensure that goods can be moved efficiently and reliably through the supply chain.
- Prioritize customer experience. Customers gain trust in businesses that can handle even the busiest of shopping days. Indeed, supply chain professionals now see customer experience as their key focus driving innovation. Further, according to 2019 BluJay Solutions research, 61% of supply chain and logistics professionals believe customer experience will overtake cost as the top supply-chain differentiator over the next five years. The importance of delivery in customer experience matters more than ever. With smooth logistics, Singles’ Day presents an opportunity to boost not only profits, but also customer satisfaction.
- Optimize—and then optimize again. While it may be too late to make changes ahead of this Singles’ Day, retailers and supply chain professionals should be constantly reviewing and refining processes and procedures that are not optimal.
- Don’t shy away from the Singles’ Day challenge. By embracing and overcoming the volume of packages and demonstrating to customerse most demanding of times, Singles’ Day presents an opportunity for retailers to build a deeper level of customer loyalty.”
The decision is yours. But of course, anyone running an online shop today must look at the competition in order not to be overtaken unconditionally. The fact is that online retailing sets new standards so that almost every business is faced with the necessity of placing its product range on the Internet.
The online shop not only surpasses the traditional retail store in terms of space and time, but also saves costs for staff: a 24-hour online support in the form of a bot, for example, enables customers to find out about the product and handle the purchase process, regardless of closing times. In addition, an online shop achieves a high-reach advertising effect through targeted SEO and content marketing.
In order to ensure that the right shop system is selected, it should be decided in advance which criteria are relevant for the company. Individual factors such as customer benefit, management options and cost are crucial. The expected order size also plays a central role. If a small company has only a small supply of goods, no particularly complex system is required: even Shopify or Wix could be sufficient, both of which can be operated without much effort and are inexpensive to buy.
Take into account that for open source shop systems, running costs must be calculated in for the provision of the online shop, resulting from the purchase price of the system, its establishment, and other fees and sales commissions. More complex systems cost hundreds of dollars per month and professional e-commerce solutions can even be in the four- to five-digit range.
The selection of the hosting should be adjusted to the product turnover rate, so that the security concept is prepared against unauthorized access and failures of the online shop. In addition to providing sufficient capacity, hosting is also responsible for data security. It is especially important to pay attention to an SSL certificate. Other key figures include storage space, a fixed IP address, traffic/ bandwidth in GB and the number of FTP accounts, short for File Transfer Protocol.
Especially with high traffic online shops it is worthwhile to introduce technical interfaces, like e.g. Salesforce integration, into the system which is ideal for optimal customer relationship management: the accounting department synchronizes with the customer data so that the corresponding invoice is automatically provided, depending on the order – as well as delivery notes and reminders – thus, simplifying the filing.
The differences between the shop system types are the following:
- Open source shops are set up using free software, with the biggest advantage of being capable of individualization. In addition to technical programming knowledge, the hosting and updates must be organized, hence requiring cost and time. Therefore, this type of online shop is especially suitable for companies that have their own IT department.
- A SaaS solution, short for Software as a Service, however, is also suitable for beginners. The modular system is offered as a rental shop, including software and hosting, so you do not have to program or install it yourself. The rapid implementation and low start-up costs are, however, offset by a lack of flexibility in design and functionality.
- The on-premise shop system refers to computer programs that are stored on the provider's server and offered for the use of the online shop. The complete solution offers powerful functions including internal administration. For these an agency is responsible, so that the operators profit from a small amount of work. However, the rental fees are in the four- to five-digit range, so the system is only a sensible option for large companies.
Not to mention that a thorough planning phase not only saves a lot of time during implementation, it also contributes to maximum cost savings in the long run. If a consultant is brought to the side with a more complex e-commerce solution, nothing stands in the way of a successful online shop. Joining a shopping frenzy event like Singles Day could be the cherry on the cake.
By Daniela La Marca