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5 Common shipping challenges faced by D2C brands

Versha Kamwal
August 16, 2021
6
mins read

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The rise in online shopping and the popularity of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands has highlighted existing problems faced by these brands, primarily when it comes to shipping. According to Narvar, 36% of customers experienced substantial shipping delays during the pandemic. The average time between order placement and delivery also doubled from 1.9 days to 4.3 days.

With high shipping costs, fast and free delivery and returns expectations, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands put customer retention at risk.

In this blog, you will learn what is direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce, Why direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands often choose self-fulfilment, the common shipping challenges faced by direct-to-consumer D2C brands and how to solve them with seamless order fulfilment.

What is direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce?

When ecommerce brands sell their products directly to customers, it is termed direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands establish relations with their customers for a range of reasons:

  • Generate deeper insights about consumer needs
  • Maintain control over their brand experience
  • Differentiate their proposition to consumers

Why direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands often choose self-fulfilment?

Since many direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands develop their own product and processes, they often opt to fulfil their orders. Self-fulfilment simply means that the direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand chooses to keep processes like picking, packing, and shipping in-house. While self-fulfilment seems logical at first, this type of fulfilment is bound to become more complicated as a business scales.

Additionally, many D2C brands try to keep fulfilment in-house as it may look like the best solution to cut costs. However, you must consider the hidden costs of self-fulfilment when your ecommerce business grows.

With increasing order volume, returns also rise. This means you need a process to manage returns as well. Moreover, there are plenty of unforeseen issues that can make self-fulfilment challenging. Meanwhile, your customers' expectations from your standard shipping increase. Thus, you need solutions that measure up—a fulfilment partner for your direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand.

The good news? With a bit of planning, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands can overcome the common pain points of shipping.

Common shipping challenges faced by direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands and how to solve them

1. Keeping up with high order volume

As your D2C brand grows, your order volume increases and your day to day operations become challenging.From keeping a track of inventory levels to picking, packing and shipping become more difficult to be managed manually. You also have to maintain a fulfilment center or warehouse and hire more staff. Moreover, the requirement for automation also arises to minimise the need for manual operations that are time-consuming and not at all cost-effective.

You can leverage Eshopbox's established fulfilment infrastructure to effectively manage the constant increase in orders while ensuring a branded experience for your customers.

2. High shipping rates

When you're shipping your D2C orders yourself, you have to rely on shipping providers for providing cost-efficient shipping services across the country. However, it is unlikely for you to get discounts and negotiated shipping rates because of low order volumes. This makes speedy delivery expensive.

As Eshopbox handles high order volumes and has strong tie-ups with shipping providers, you get access to negotiated shipping rates. Thus, you can reduce your shipping expenses.

3. Pressure to offer fast and free delivery

Customers expect fast and free delivery as a standard service from D2C brands. You need to fulfil your orders from multiple locations in order to increase the shipping speed. For that, you need a distributed network of warehouses across the country to store your inventory closer to your customers. This means you have to make a huge investment in multiple warehouses.

Aurelia offers free shipping on all orders
Aurelia offers free shipping on all orders

Moreover, to provide free shipping to your customer you need to determine a strategy to cover the shipping costs as well as reduce the shipping costs.

With Eshopox, you can split your inventory in multiple fulfilment centres across India. Additionally, to reduce shipping costs further, you can:

  • Create the illusion of free shipping by include the price of shipping into the product MRP (Maximum Retail Price).
  • Offering product bundles or set a minimum spend threshold to increase average order value (AOV)
  • Introduce loyalty programs and subscriptions to induce more purchases to improve customer lifetime value (CLTV)

Thus, you can offer free and fast shipping to your customers without worrying about their location.

Eshopbox's distributed network of fulfilment centres
Eshopbox's distributed network of fulfilment centres

4. Delivery transparency at checkout

As a D2C brand's customer base grows, customer expectations also increase. Nowadays, customers not only want fast shipping, but they also want to know when their order will be delivered. 80% of customers expect to see an estimated delivery date at checkout. However, only 40% of ecommerce brands actually show them.

To remain competitive, you must consider showing an estimated delivery date at the checkout. However, when you're fulfilling your own orders—given the high influx or order volumes, it's diificult to estimate and promise your customers about the delivery dates. Moreover, if you show a delivery date and fail to fulfil the order, it can ruin your brand credibility.

With Eshopbox, you can set clear expectations with your customers about their orders as Eshopbox proactively informs you with expected dispatch dates. This way you can build customer trust, reduce shopping cart abandonment and create brand loyalty.

Nike provides estimated date of delivery on its website
Nike provides estimated date of delivery on its website

5. Handling increasing returns

During an expansion spree, it's imperative to build a separate process to handle returns. The possibility of returns also increases with orders. Most importantly, for a D2C brand, it is essential to make returns and refunds as customer-centric as possible. When you're dealing directly with your customers, you must offer them free returns and a hassle-free returns process. However, returns are costly and the whole process is tedious.

You can with framing an ideal returns policy that includes:

  • Pre-defined time period for returns, such as 30 days
  • Expected condition of returned products, such as tags
  • Necessary documents for returns, such as invoice
  • Methods of reimbursements, such as source account or wallet

Moreover, you need to create a hassle-free experience for your customers by optimising the entire returns process by ensuring:

  • A quick and easy process for initiating a return
  • Aligning return shipping of the product
  • Conducting quality checks
  • Processing the refund

Eshopbox makes returns your competitive advantage, not a problem statement. Eshopbox’s powerful return inventory tracking helps you stay notified, and auto-sync your returns from multiple sales channels to the Eshopbox system. The streamlined process improves customer experience with easy and hassle-free return labels.

Moreover, Eshopbox quickly schedules return shipping of the product, conducts quality checks, refurbishes the returned product, and quickly restock the product in your available inventory for re-selling. Thus, by effectively managing returns, Eshopbox helps you recapture lost revenue.

All Bird's hassle-free returns policy

All Bird's hassle-free returns policy
All Bird's hassle-free returns policy

Eshopbox's return management
Eshopbox's return management

Bottom line

As direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands scale, the tools and processes behind them must scale with them. By partnering with a tech-enabled 3PL provider, you can resolve all the pain points of shipping while focusing on your core business. Most importantly, offer a wholesome customer experience. This will help you retain more customers, trigger repeat purchases, and ensure the long-term health of your direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand.

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