Selecting the right partner for your e-commerce business
Rushika Bhatia
10X Technology

Selecting the right partner for your e-commerce business

This piece is a guide to finding the right logistics partner – we speak to leading experts at UPS to bring you insights on areas you should consider.

For e-commerce businesses dealing in physical products, a smooth logistics process is essential before rolling out products to the market. Good logistics is more than just a process of transferring products, materials, components to different places. It is the key component of a supply chain that makes it easier to get these products and goods transferred to another destination with proper management. This means finding the right partner from the first mile to the last.

Prioritise your needs selecting your partner as the right partner can help reduce your costs. Since a large percentage of goods offered on online stores are imported from outside the country through a complicated web of multiple entities from origin to destination, the process needs to be able to support the demands of your customers versus the prices they are willing to pay to get the product to their doorstep. From the speed of getting it delivered to keeping the rates minimum, logistics always works upon these priorities. Usually, the faster you need to expedite the delivery process, the higher the charges are.

Many logistics can be separated into first mile (freight forwarders, shipping companies, ETC), third party logistics providers (3PL) and last mile (typically your couriers and delivery houses. Companies like UPS are able to provide all of these services.

The first mile

As a start-up it’s fine to deal with each shipment on an ad hoc basis like using drop shipments when your orders are extremely limited. But as businesses grow, the need to have more stocks and a better range of flexibility in your offers becomes mandatory. You need to be working with a reliable freight forwarder to make sure your imports are managed and delivered to your warehouse based on agreed terms. Managing customer expectations and your business values, you might need to shift the mode of the shipment.

Whether you are an e-commerce or start-up building up its brand, you need have full visibility and transparency on your shipments to manage expectations with your end consumers. You also need a reliable freight forwarder to make sure all the customs and clearance are taken care of.

Drop shipments

The inventory for your e-commerce business does not need to be stocked in UAE. Drop shipment business, especially for e-commerce, is on the rise. This enables a sale without physically having the goods in UAE. Usually in such cases, the products could well be stored in hubs that could be based locally or in the county of manufacture/origin. As and when a sale happens, the item gets shipped from this hub directly to the customer. This could also mean that the e-commerce company has better stocks and uses better visibility to optimize and help its customers.

To ensure that a company is fully sustainable, this needs to be done at the lowest expense with the right partner that offers this as a viable option. That’s another reason why choosing the right partner is key to your business’ success.

Last mile delivery

Services like drop shipments can be managed through partnerships with last mile delivery companies to make sure the customer orders are picked up from the warehouse/storage facility and delivered to the end consumer at a competitive price. With international delivery services offered by the likes of UPS, you may not need to have local warehousing or storage.

Storage and value added

Quite often, these last mile delivery companies offer storage, but you could also opt for 3PL companies that could help you with this complete package including storage and value added services. This could help reduce overheads or the necessity to have your own warehouse.

More precise planning

It is vital that you have your logistics planning done well so you can get the products delivered on time, as promised, without any hassles. There are a lot of compliances for complex products that need prior approval before arriving in UAE including documentation like municipality registration and approvals, packaging details with Arabic translation, labelling and many more. These vary according to industries.

It is important you match customer's expectations with 24/7 visibility on your shipping. It is important that you plan according to the needs of the customers and make sure that they get their product delivered without any kind of hassle at all. It’s all about putting the customer first.