From Bricks And Mortar To E-Tailing: How To Make The Shift

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More than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, Australians and the organisations they work for have adapted their working practices and way of life to a new normal. Employees continue to work remotely where possible to adhere to social distancing rules, and many people are doing their shopping online.

According to the 2020 Australia Post eCommerce Industry report, eCommerce experienced 80 per cent year-on-year growth in the eight weeks following the World Health Organisation’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The report also found that more than 200,000 new shoppers entered the online shopping industry in April this year. In addition, the 2020 Pitney Bowes Shipping Index found that Australia is now the 10th largest e-commerce market in terms of sales. In 2019, Australian e-commerce retail sales grew by four per cent year-on-year to reach USD 15.7 billion.

Ben Seal, head of shipping, Australia and New Zealand, Pitney Bowes, said, “It’s clear that Australians have adapted to the new pandemic way of life. Similarly, Australian businesses must continue to adapt their working practices and processes to accommodate changes. Investing in technologies to reduce costs and simplify operations is critical regardless of industry; this extends to those working in the retail and e-tail space.”

Moving from bricks and mortar to online retail can be a challenge. However, it doesn’t need to be complex. Here are five things to consider when transitioning from bricks and mortar stores to e-tailing:

  1. Leveraging existing store or warehouse locations to source, stock, and fill orders closer to customer locations will be paramount to success. Redeploying existing retail staff to fill online orders from stock in closed stores, for example, can reduce strain on distribution centres.
  2. Building relationships with multiple suppliers can ensure companies can continue to fill orders and maintain business continuity.
  3. Having multiple parcel carriers can mitigate the challenges involved in delivering to restricted destinations, as well as reduce the risk of reliance on one carrier for capacity.
  4. Having reliable, easy-to-use systems can simplify the shipping process and save time, especially when coordinating numerous deliveries. Systems that combine multiple carriers make it quicker and easier to track deliveries from information housed in a central location, rather than checking a long list of different tracking numbers and varied couriers. This also makes it easier to select affordable shipping and delivery solutions.
  5. Focusing on the customer experience to identify ways it can be improved through increased transparency and openness, and by reporting on stock availability. Customers may accept pandemic-related delays in the current environment, though they might be less accepting if shipping delays are downplayed or companies over-promise and under-deliver on delivery time.

Ben Seal said, “While the pandemic has changed the way Australians live and work, it hasn’t changed consumer expectations, and retailers must keep up with customer demand to ensure business continuity. Making the shift from physical store locations to e-tailing may not have been the first choice for many companies; however, businesses that adapt their operations and embrace the change will face a more certain future.”

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