The new era of eCommerce has begun in Europe. While the USA continues with its technological domination and touches new development heights that can appear to be very advanced and futuristic for the average European consumer – like augmented reality and virtual reality or the drastically increasing use of voice activated searches for example – the post pandemic results in terms of European eCommerce development, consist in uniforming the adoption of online solutions and reducing the technological gap between countries.
In fact there is no longer any question regarding IF a European customer would buy online, now it’s purely a matter of how many items and and how much they will spend.
So we could superficially conclude that Europe is not as advanced as America or put a little more thought into the matter and realize that this is a great time to expand a brand to European countries!
When it comes to fulfillment, despite the many trends supporting the overall expansion of this industry, it is very important to consider that not all of them are equally important or suitable to satisfy the European customers’ expectation.
1 – Flexible Warehousing and Adaptive Fulfillment
Flexible warehousing rapidly became the new status-quo of product storage, especially for online sellers. We can see this change as an inevitable adaptation to the extraordinary rise of online shopping that was forced upon Europe – and the rest of the world – by the pandemic.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of flexible warehousing, it allows to dynamically handle the storage of stocks and pay for the actual time and space used before shipping out the inventory. eCompreneurs and Brand owners can scale and handle market demands without suffering the rigidity of traditional warehousing contracts – characterized by a fixed amount of warehouse space and duration.
More advanced and eCommerce-prone logistics-as-a-service companies will alongside provide Adaptive Fulfillment which is the real game changer and the actual trend to keep an eye on. Adaptive Fulfillment can be defined as a software technology able to suit the changing conditions of the areas it is applied to and the needs it has to serve.
Flexible warehousing allows merchants to partner up with 3PLs and only pay for the space, the time and the facilities based on what they actually use, therefore without being chained to long term contracts with fixed clauses which would have a harming effect on cash flow. Integrating flexible warehousing with Adaptive Fulfillment finally allows the former to be exploited at its full potential. But if it represents a great deal in terms of optimization, for European eCommerce it becomes so much more. Merchants in fact can:
-Integrate and manage all sales channels (social media, online stores, marketplaces and any kind of checkout that might be launched and become a trend for that given audience in that given time and country)
-Offer Cash-On-Delivery or Prepaid checkout formulas and adapt to payment preferences of all European regions
-Transfer inventory from a warehouse to the other based on the current needs (from testing to product shortages)
-Have a global vision on every aspect of sales for all European countries they’re active in
-Rapidly setup a fulfillment system in multiple countries as if it was being configured on one
-Enable product testing without suffering unsustainable losses in case of failure
-Keep up with all changes in the customer journey no matter the needs
Thanks to the Flexible Warehousing and Adaptive Fulfilment this combo now merchants can seize opportunities and launch in any European country without having to compromise due to the lack of an adequate delivery infrastructure and order-management system.
Continue to read to find another example of Adaptive Fulfillment.
2 – Personalization in Fulfillment
The brands that know how to play the eCom game are the ones that are aware that fulfillment and delivery are part of the branding strategy and have a heavy impact on the customer experience. Thus, the Brands that result in being the absolute winners are the ones that understand that high performance is nothing if the customer cannot appreciate the overachievement.
This in particular is true for Europe where populations that belong to countries with emerging economies present large ranges of inhabitants detached from the online payment systems, even if they love buying online.
For this reason, it is critical to consider the local payment setup when seeking to improve or win customer satisfaction (or even conversions in the first place). Partnering up with 3PL services that can also offer Cash-On-Delivery – and allow merchants to give their customers a choice at checkout – allows them to conquer Eastern European markets and to greatly improve conversion rates for continental countries such as Italy or Spain. Another example of fulfillment personalization – that belongs to the Adaptive Fulfillment category as well – is represented by Automatic Carrier Selection based on the specific destination area. If such a definition may sound unclear, try to imagine a situation where, as a consumer, you live in a remote area and want to buy an item you fell in love with from a certain website. Unfortunately you find out that delivery to your area requires you to pay a surcharge that causes you to abandon your cart. Through Automatic Carrier Selection, remote areas are covered by companies that charge the least amount possible or no surcharge at all solving a whole big problem before it arises.
Overall, it is crucial to not make the mistake of giving a personalized experience along the whole funnel and then ignoring the client at checkout.
3 – Expanding the supplier base
The worst nightmare of any business is not being able to keep up with the demand. 2021 has been very much about supply chain disruptions and subsequent delivery difficulties, from empty shelves in supermarkets to containers stalling at ports for months. Worker and truck driver shortages, manufacturers having difficulties in pivoting production to serve a different market, but also insufficient warehouse spacing for who tries to solve by importing bigger stocks, describe the nature of the problem.
Shortages are predicted to affect pique season for 2022 as well as to becoming a predictable pain for which a strategy will be required when programming the 2023 business quarters. For this reason companies are trying to run for cover in order to prevent or at least mitigate future delivery failures.
For brands selling – or that aim to sell – to multiple European countries, spreading inventory across warehouses located in different European nations can not only solve the problem, but allow them to catch two birds with one stone. For example it is possible to test a product in a new country – one warehouse serves more than one country – while using that warehouse to store products. This way it is possible to avoid product shortages and the risk of an oversupply of products at the same time.
We already know that eCommerce is a fast-moving and unpredictable industry that has enormously grown during the last years. In this industry the customer plays the main role. While technology innovations characterize the American eCom reality, the European consumer that has opened up to online shopping is still strongly looking for – and expecting – an experience comparable to the in-store one. Fast, personalized and convenient delivery is part of this experience.
Borderl3ss is the all-in-one solution that allows businesses to become extremely agile and adaptable to the current – typically fragmented – market and fulfillment trends while assuring that intimate shopping experience European customers need. At Borderl3ss we know that Fulfillment softwares needs to follow the Brand approach to sales by giving equal importance to flexible warehousing dynamics and a more customer-centric attitude as well. The only way to be customer-centric is to allow a seamless experience to the customer that wants to checkout where they want, pay how they want and receive where they want – the price they feel the product is worth of course-. Once this is made possible, Europe can actually become for almost any company that gold mine all eCommerce reports love talking about.