Many small business enterprises don’t put too much thought into deliveries. For those who are into e-commerce and sell one or very few items via the Internet, the enterprise’s flow of work is typically receiving orders, preparing the items, and booking and delivering via a 3rd party service (e.g., Grab, Lalamove).
Many enterprises have seen their businesses grow thanks to e-commerce. Some have seen their markets surge in terms of number of customers and deliveries.
E-commerce has been a godsend to enterprises reeling from the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Some have not only survived but also made good money.
As some enterprises grew, they expanded their product lines and gained more customers. Some have seen demand for their products come with greater variability as they cater to customers with varying needs.
Nevertheless, most e-commerce enterprises have done well despite the growing demand. They have had no issue delivering versus demand (customer orders), thanks largely to sufficient capacity and availability of transport providers.
But as businesses expand even more, they can begin to encounter issues.
Transport availability and operating capacities show their limits when business multiplies. Enterprises realise e-commerce becomes more of a supply chain issue, than just an adoption of an app.
Some enterprises end up turning away customers when they lack the capability to deliver.
Turning away customers means turning away opportunities. When times are tough, enterprises can ill afford to turn away customers.
Which is why it’s wise to study and pinpoint where one can invest in capacity and allow the business to grow.
There are means to determine how to increase operating capacities. It’s another story when it comes to transportation availability. How does one procure more transportation? Should the enterprise buy more trucks or source more 3rd party providers?
The following are some suggested guidelines:
1. Own vehicles for demand surges
Most enterprises experience demand surges. Food shops sell more during the Yuletide season and not much afterward. Gift and flower shops sell a lot before and on Valentine’s Day. Convenience stores sell plenty of beverages and snack foods during long holiday weekends when most people stay home.
An enterprise can assess its transportation needs for demand surges. It might be a good idea for an enterprise to have its own transportation to pick up the slack when 3rd party providers may not be available, such as during holidays when many drivers and riders go on leave or are fully booked.
2. Have back-up drivers
Nothing is more frustrating than to have a delivery ready to go but no one to drive the vehicle to transport it.
Enterprises usually train several people to operate equipment such that if the operator is absent, another can take over.
The same should apply for delivery vehicles. Even if a shop relies almost 100% on 3rd party riders to deliver, it not only may be a good idea to have one’s own vehicle on standby but also to have more than one employee who knows how to drive it. It’s not worth the risk of having no transport available to deliver all because there was no one to drive the vehicle that’s already there.
3. Get to know the riders
They’re not your employees but it may be nice to get to know the riders who pick up your products and deliver them to your customers.
Some riders come back again and again to deliver for an enterprise. One reason is because some of them live nearby so they’re readily available every day. It’s therefore nice to establish a professional rapport and even share contact information. Having a rider that you’d know and who’d you know will surely be there for your business every day adds a plus to ensured availability.
4. Take advantage of 3rd party promotions and programs
Some 3rd party services offer programs wherein client enterprises can not only avail discounts but also provide greater priority for package pick-ups and deliveries. The enterprise can estimate the packages it will ship daily and see how a 3rd party’s offered program fits in terms of price and available transport.
Pandemic or no pandemic, enterprises are growing through e-commerce. They are seeing exponential growth and so far, many are coping well and making profits.
Growth at a point, however, reveals the limits of enterprises. When it comes to e-commerce, it usually shows not only in operations but especially in transportation.
It may be good for enterprises, therefore, to invest in one’s own transport especially for demand surges, have enough back-up drivers, and establish relationships with 3rd party providers, like with the riders and/or availing programs and promotions 3rd party services may offer.
Better to be ready to deliver than to be unable to.