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Is your Ecommerce Caught Between Delivery Delays and Voided Service Guarantees? Strategies to Survive this Situation.

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Is your Ecommerce Caught Between Delivery Delays and Voided Service Guarantees? Strategies to Survive this Situation.

The pandemic has disrupted ecommerce businesses in unique ways. While a few ecommerce stores went bust, others doubled their revenue overnight. Regardless the parcel volumes continue to soar. The parcel volumes are so high that even major shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS are overwhelmed. For example, FedEx alone saw a 35%-40% increase in B2C deliveries. An unprecedented rise in shipments has forced both the carriers to resort to undertaking stringent actions.

Carriers Suspend Service Guarantees

FedEx and UPS have suspended money-back guarantee for ground and priority services. Let’s take a minute to understand what this means for merchants. An escalation in order volumes directly impacts the carrier’s on-time delivery performance. It is almost a given that merchants will experience a minimum of 20% increase in delays. An explosion in sales, impatient customers, and shoddy delivery experience. Add to it, COVID uncertainty and unaccountability resulting from voided service guarantees. Sounds like a disaster in the making?

When delays are imminent

With the growing volume of residential deliveries clogging their network, carriers may redirect traffic to relieve congestion. Suspension of guarantees also means that FedEx or UPS can switch your priority shipments to lower-cost ground mode without notice. Expect more delays for overnight and priority shipments. While you pay for a premium service there is no way you can hold carriers accountable.

Watch out for COVID-19 Surcharges

In order to mitigate the strain on their delivery network, UPS followed by FedEx has come up with peak volume surcharges. A $30 surcharge as additional handling charges and $0.40 for services like FedEx SmartPost or UPS surepost. But the surcharge that retailers must be most concerned about is the residential area surcharge. A surcharge of $0.30 will be levied on all orders that are to be delivered to residences.

Strategies to survive

The disastrous combination of delivery delays and rising shipping costs can ruin your sales revenue. It is crucial to take steps to mitigate the impact of COVID on your shipping costs as well as customer experience.

Here are a few strategies to follow:

1. Re-negotiate your shipping contract: UPS or FedEx can’t spring a surprise charge. Especially during these trying times. Work through your shipping profile to figure out the impact of these charges on your costs. Negotiate with your FedEx or UPS rep and draw up a special contract for the COVID situation.

2. Consider charging for order delivery: Free and fast delivery has been your brand’s USP. However, if including a shipping fee helps your business stay afloat, don’t shy away. Don’t let the additional surcharge eat into your profit margin.

3. Delays should not deter you: Factor in for delays while revisiting the estimated date of shipments on your shipping page.  Communicate well in advance to your customer support team. Mention the changes to delivery times due to COVID On your home page.

4. Over-communicate with your customers: Let your customers know at all times where their package is. Stay on top of your orders at all times. Act quickly in case of a delivery exception.

5. Audit your invoices: Businesses are slashing all the excess spending. As for ecommerce, you should start by auditing your shipping invoice. It is more critical than ever to examine each and every line item on your invoice. This can help you save 10%-12% of your shipping costs.

The peak volume surcharges and service guarantee suspension are supposedly temporary. When things go back to normal, FedEx and UPS are likely to reinstate these service guarantees. However, with no clear timeline in businesses must prepare to navigate the status-quo as long as it lasts.

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Simon Perkins is a Shipping Cost Management expert at AuditShipment.com, a real-time parcel monitoring and AI-powered audit service that provides businesses with deep shipping intelligence and actionable cost recovery insights.

GSO

Western U.S. package delivery company GSO completes brand conversion to General Logistics Systems US, Inc.

Three years after West Coast package delivery company GSO was acquired by international delivery group GLS, the company has officially changed its name to General Logistics Systems US, Inc. (GLS US).”

“GLS is an international company with 30 years of experience and allows me to proudly say, we now have global experience delivered locally,” said GLS-US CEO, Randall Swart. “Over the past year, GSO has gone through many exciting changes, and we remain committed to providing the best service to our valued customers. In 2020 we will celebrate 25 years doing what we love — delivering packages as an extension of our customers’ businesses.”

Swart said the company looks forward to using the knowledge and experience of the GLS Group to invest in new technologies, new facilities, new vehicles and future growth to support customers’ growing shipping needs. “We are excited about the potential to accelerate our growth and presence in the market,” he said.

GLS US, which serves California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah, is converting all trucks, drop boxes and supplies to GLS.

GLS acquired California-based GSO in October 2016. Since then, the two companies have worked seamlessly to integrate systems. The conversion to GLS reflects shared values between the two companies – reliability, security, transparency, flexibility, and sustainability. Customers started seeing the GLS brand in the Northwest when the company bought Seattle-based Postal Express in 2017 as part of a focused geographic expansion.

GLS US continues to expand and provide unmatched Priority Overnight, Ground and Freight delivery services throughout the Western United States. It has 2,300 U.S. employees, 48 depots, two hubs, and a customer service center to support more than 20,000 customers with a high-quality level of service including later pickup times, earlier deliveries, and proactive package tracking – all at competitive rates.

“Throughout the years, our service offerings and technology have evolved based on the needs of our customers,” Swart said. “We are committed to continue making improvements to ensure the best shipping experience possible. We’re growing quickly and are committed to living up to our reputation of providing all our customers with the same excellent delivery and customer service standards we’ve built over the years.”

GLS US will continue to offer customers an overnight delivery footprint unmatched by the national carriers with significantly reduced transit times across the West Coast using its ground and freight services. “We look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead for our customers and our company,” Swart said.

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GLS, General Logistics Systems B.V. (headquartered in Amsterdam), provides reliable, high-quality deferred parcel services for over 200,000 customers, complemented by logistics and express services. Through organic and inorganic expansion, the Group has grown to provide network coverage of 45 countries via wholly owned and partner companies, and it is globally connected via contractual agreements. Seventy central transshipment points and about 1,400 depots and agencies are at GLS’ disposal. With its ground-based network GLS is one of the leading parcel service providers in Europe. In the financial year 2018/19 GLS achieved revenue of €3.3 billion. For more information about the Western U.S. parcel and freight delivery services offered by GLS, visit www.gls-us.com.

RSL AND THE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF ORDER FULFILLMENT

Order fulfillment can be labeled as the least appealing part of the e-commerce lifecycle. However, as unappealing as it is, order fulfillment is integral to the shopper and retailer. On its simplest level, an order that is placed must be shipped out. So, how can an order fulfillment 3PL be a competitive advantage for retailers?

Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is a leading 3PL that operates a nationwide network of 12 order fulfillment facilities. With such an expansive network, RSL is uniquely positioned to provide the competitive advantage that many retailers need.  “The RSL network opens the marketplace to choice and flexibility,” says Michael Manzione, CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics. “Scaling up and down is invaluable and, depending on your size and need, you can utilize our two-day delivery network or drill down to further locate your product closer to the end consumer.”

While RSL is among the 3PLs with the most expansive U.S. networks, they are not stopping there. They recently announced plans to open an additional six U.S. facilities by the end of the year. Their expansion will include the major metropolitan cities of Houston and Los Angeles.

“Our continued expansion into major metropolitan markets is a commitment to our customers,” Manzione says. “Our larger footprint will facilitate our ability to deliver our clients product to their customers via next day ground and even same day in some cases.”

Meeting a client’s demand is always a priority. This is evident in RSL clients that practice Just In Time (JIT) inventory from overseas. When executed properly, JIT is a competitive advantage as the inventory system increases efficiency and decreases waste by receiving product as it is ordered, thereby reducing inventory costs.

Rakuten Super Logistics’ 12 facilities are all located near major shipping ports, which reduces the time from when a product enters the country to when it is received in the warehouse. That close proximity to major container ports allows RSL clients to keep lower inventory levels, thereby reducing their costs while leaving room for scalability.

Scalability is a huge advantage for retailers that have seasonal lifecycles. Take Black Friday as an example. In 2018, Black Friday e-commerce sales in the U.S. topped $6.2 billion, dwarfing the $5 billion in 2017 Black Friday sales.* The strain on 3PLs was enormous but managed through valuable resources. However, many retailers who managed order fulfillment in-house could not meet the increased customer demand.

Operating a vast network of facilities, RSL provides more than just the ability to scale. It provides significant cost savings to its clients. “Our approach to serving the small to middle-size e-commerce companies allows them to compete equally with their larger competitors at a competitive rate,” says Manzione.

Rakuten Super Logistics negotiates shipping rates with the major carriers based on their large-scale shipping volumes. This means that when an e-commerce retailer partners with RSL, they receive the reduced, negotiated shipping rates.

“With the USPS First Class Packages service structure change to zone-based pricing, all e-commerce retailers must consider how to locate their product closer to their customers,” Manzione notes. The zone-based pricing structure will leave many retailers sticker shocked–the cost to ship a one-pound package from LA to New York will be significantly higher.  Leveraging Rakuten Super Logistics’ shipping rates will help keep these costs more manageable.

The savings isn’t always bottom line either. “We have built a great two-day ground network and now want to offer additional choices for those seeking same day and next day delivery, while maintaining lower shipping costs,” Manzione says. “Technology is the key to our success. In 2018, we implemented ‘picker-robots’ developed by California-based inVia. The picker robots help increase production and order accuracy. Technology and innovation have been the backbone of Rakuten Super Logistics. We continue to implement the latest technology.”

Manzione continues: “The exponential growth in e-commerce couldn’t have been accomplished without significant changes to logistics. Rakuten Super Logistics has been on the forefront of 3PL innovation; from using robotics to zone skipping, Rakuten Super Logistics provides clients with a competitive advantage to succeed in the tough online space.”

Source: Statista