While billions of people all over the world are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdown, suddenly e-commerce stores and on-demand services have gained renewed significance.
Since in many parts of the world the movement of people has been severely constrained, the doorstep delivery of essential goods and foods have become a lifeline for individuals.
COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the e-commerce businesses and their operation in many ways.
Besides the surging demand of doorstep delivery of goods, contactless delivery and faster shipping process have been key improvements for the entire sector.
People Will Not Let Go Of The Time Saving and Efficiency
The lockdown measures and the stay at home orders from the governments will eventually be over and regular movements of people will begin.
But thanks to the emergency situation many people who seldom had the habit of shopping online now found the efficiency and time saving advantage of the online stores. An increase of online shoppers because of the forced online purchases during lockdown is going to bring a lot of businesses to the online stores across the niches.
As many people are reluctant to go back to their old shopping habits, it is important to know some benefits corresponding to the protection from the virus. In any physical store, products are handled by thousands of people every now and then and this creates more risk factors for the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, audience footfall in stores creates more exposure to the virus. In complete contrast, online stores just need to ensure safety measures for their staff and shipping personnel to prevent the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 Has Facilitated Online Shopping And Self Pick-up
After the pandemic and resulting lockdown many customers are also preferring to order online and pick up goods from the local outlet.
This is actually helping customers to save the unnecessary cost burden in the form of delivery cost while getting a quicker shopping experience.
For the retail stores this model is also effective to make cost savings on shipping. This model called Buy Online and Pick Up In Store (BOIPS) has already become hugely popular across retail niches.
It has been reported that during the COVID-19 outbreak, many retailers like Best Buy, GameStop, Abt Electronics, and Lowes have embraced this business model while maintaining the social distancing guidelines as recommended by the government.
Many stores also facilitated picking up goods from their partner outlets or from the offices of the carrier services. For example, Walmart for their customers facilitated picking up goods from FedEx warehouses.
Agile Cloud Shipping Is Getting More Popular
It is particularly important for the omnichannel retailers with e-commerce stores to reduce shipping cost to stay competitive and leverage the cost benefits for the customers.
The last mile delivery of goods in most parts of the world is considered to be expensive and every retailer tries hard to reduce this cost. Agile cloud shipping has emerged as a proactive measure to reduce shipping cost and make processes more streamlined.
Let us understand how agile cloud shipping works to the advantage of the retailers. Basically this is a multi-carrier shipping strategy and through this retailers can keep in contact with several carriers and based on their rates and other parameters can choose the shipping service for delivering parcels.
This is facilitated by a cloud based multi-carrier parcel shipping system. This besides reducing the cost of shipping helps improving the shipping procedure and streamlining the process of shipping goods.
The retailers generally use multi-carrier shipping software systems to incorporate a perfect mix of different shipping carriers for transportation of the goods to customers at the lowest rate. The software working as an aggregating system helps picking the carrier service with the best rate and best service.
This also helps the retailer to hold any carrier accountable for their services. The multi-Carrier shipping system also allows integration with other supply chain systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other enterprise systems.
Minimising Friction And Streamlining The Process Is The Key
In the modern e-commerce process, minimising the friction and roadblocks is the most important aspect.
The friction can be minimised by accommodating allowing customer preferences in the process. Just as the e-commerce stores market their goods based on customer preferences, price options and other customer choices, the shipping for e-commerce stores also try to address the customer preferences and constraints.
In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, the retailers need to address the customer preferences and concerns even more just because of the increasing health risks emanating out of the fear of the virus.
This is why more retailers are now embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to shape the retail experience for the customers as per their concerns and preferences. The increasing importance of contactless shipping and delivery of products has gained more importance than ever before because of the pandemic.
To reduce friction and to offer maximum ease of shopping for the customers many traditional retailers and e-commerce stores have now embraced a mobile app strategy. By hiring a mobile app development company a retail store can now deliver the most streamlined shopping experience with least friction.
As customers making online orders for doorstep delivery or self pickup are steadily increasing, mobile apps are likely to enjoy more control over the retail sector and shopping experience than ever before.
The COVID-19 led lockdown is making customers more savvy to online shopping and doorstep delivery of goods than ever before.
The efficiency and the advantage of saving time have been crucial factors behind the popularity of the online stores. The so-called occasional and infrequent customers of online stores are also turning out to become regular buyers of these stores.
Apart from the objective condition created by the pandemic this has also been possible largely thanks to the proactive role played by the technology driven online stores and retail outlets who embraced frictionless shipping processes for the convenience of their customers.
Atman Rathod is the Co-founder at CMARIX TechnoLabs Pvt. Ltd., a leading web and mobile app development company with 16+ years of experience. He loves to write about technology, startups, entrepreneurship and business. His creative abilities, academic track record and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers as well.