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Web logistics. That your products are delivered on time.

The continuously strong growth rates in electronic trading and the increasing number of internet users make it increasingly attractive to set up an online product range with an internet ordering facility. But there are several challenges facing companies interested in starting out in e-commerce – including logistics handling for the service.

Almost all companies and many individuals now have an online presence and use the internet for communication, marketing and research, but also to buy products and services. Over 70 percent have been on the web for over three years, and three quarters of these can be seen as experienced users. The increasing popularity of the internet is mirrored in a growing number of webshops. Companies who have never previously offered products online now have to find out how they can use the internet to sell their products and services. And it is worth considering that 81 percent of these products are physical goods. Many smaller companies fail to receive the support they need in this area.

When selling products over the internet, the most important thing is to retain an overview, in order not to disappoint new or existing customers. Pricing, inventories and delivery must all be linked. Each company must also ask itself whether its products or services are suitable for sale online at all, assess the shipping costs involved and establish a returns policy – all these factors must be evaluated before taking the leap into e-commerce. Eighty percent of traders already sell to foreign customers, even if only to a limited extent. Above all, it is uncertainty over the legal situation and the shipping process that make it so difficult to take the leap to cross-border selling. The payment procedure is the third largest difficulty encountered when selling to foreign customers.

Because a website alone is not enough
In order to ensure reliable and customer-friendly order handling, a large number of process steps must be considered. A significant proportion of these affect the whole area of logistics and shipping – and this means more than just the handover of parcels to a service provider. Ideally, orders should be handled without large-scale manual intervention. Order acceptance, despatch, delivery and returns management are the most important steps in this process. Gondrand AG has developed a web logistics product for SMEs based on traditional warehouse services, which simplifies the procedure and covers all the steps involved.

When a customer places an order, an availability check is carried out for the product while the order is being processed. This is performed by a warehouse management system, which also provides a real-time overview of current inventories. The actual shipping process begins once the order has been registered. The products ordered are marked on a packing list; the picking and packing process then begins. Usually, the delivery note and invoice are printed at this time, together with the address and return stickers. Correct packaging also requires attention. Damage to or defects in products are the second most frequent cause of returns, so the necessary care must be taken to protect goods. Then they can be removed from the warehouse, loaded and their distribution coordinated.

This process is further supported by a webshop oriented to the design of the customer's existing website. Payments and a credit card link to a leading credit card company complete the web logistics offering. However, Gondrand also recommends incorporating procurement coordination with suppliers, damages processing and the despatch of advertising materials into the logistics concept.

The right logistics solution brings better customer service, which goes hand in hand with increased customer loyalty. It is also worth highlighting that it allows more time to focus on core competencies such as purchasing, product range enhancement and marketing, as well as lowering service costs for equipment and logistics and reducing risks in the event of customer insolvency.

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