1) Growth of eCommerce and the Need for Faster, More Efficient Shipping
eCommerce has followed a distinct growth pattern since the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns sweeping throughout the world, retailers scrambled through innovations and technological adaptations to adjust to the dramatic migration of consumers to online shopping, resulting in the rapid growth of eCommerce sales and expansion of eCommerce stores. This year, eCommerce sales have already surpassed $5 trillion and are predicted to exceed $7 trillion by 2025.
eCommerce growth can be discerned by the fact that both large and small businesses have embraced online marketplaces, diversified their products, and even accommodated mobile shopping. Many new trends have emerged along these lines, such as the rise of D2C companies, B2B companies offering online order experiences like B2C companies, emerging reliance on AI and Big Data, API-driven innovations, and increasing focus on sustainability. These transformations have made the need for faster, more efficient eCommerce shipping solutions an absolute necessity.
This article presents ten ingenious eCommerce shipping trends that have emerged as solutions to satisfy customer expectations and logistical requirements.
2) Trends in eCommerce Shipping
eCommerce shipping trends are ways to add long-term value to eCommerce businesses by enhancing consumer experience and ushering in profits. We have curated a list of known and hidden trends expanding in the eCommerce shipping sector for you.
2.1) Unified Commerce
Have you ever thought how wonderful it would be to operate and manage your entire business from a single channel? Unified commerce makes it possible for you.
Unified commerce unravels the jumble of disconnected business applications like POS, CRM, inventory management, order fulfilment, and mobile commerce. It integrates these varied functions into one platform by connecting your backend with customer-facing channels.
With this, you can form a centralised database with data insights from all departments - distribution centres, eCommerce stores/websites, warehouses, and HQs. It allows you to give your customers a seamless shopping experience whether they purchase something from your physical stores or online.
Unified commerce has simplified shipping by making inventory visible across all channels, predicting, maintaining inventory reserves, and shipping special orders to anywhere in the world, a real possibility.
2.2) Dark Stores and Drones
Dark stores and drones are an emerging eCommerce shipping trend that cuts back on delivery times for order fulfilment. The concept of dark stores is simple. They are physical stores like conventional supermarkets that act as distribution centres. So, when customers place orders, they can receive deliveries on the same day or pick up their orders. Dark stores give more space to host inventory and speed up the delivery process.
Like dark stores, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) change the delivery landscape. Though still nascent, drone deliveries have garnered enough attention with their finest features to reduce courier costs and step up on-demand delivery. Additionally, it is a sustainable way to approach delivery.
2.3) Omnichannel Fulfilment
Unlike unified commerce, omnichannel fulfilment is a buzzword we hear frequently. Omnichannel fulfilment refers to fulfilling orders across multiple channels such that order creation and delivery can happen across different channels.
A business can ship from any medium- warehouses, 3PLs, manufacturers, in-stores and deliver to pick up depots and lockers. Pick up from the curb and customer service desk are added options for faster and innovative deliveries that reshape shipping trends for eCommerce.
2.4) Growing D2C Fulfilment
An eCommerce trend that rapidly grew during the pandemic was the D2C fulfilment model when in-person shopping drastically stagnated and hard hit the manufacturers.
In this model, manufacturers or producers sell their products directly to consumers via their websites. It eliminates any meddling middlemen from the process. This trend focuses heavily on building capabilities to personally interact with end customers, build their brand image, and innovate based on the inputs from their consumers.
Consumers too appreciate D2C fulfilment, especially when there is a better offer and lower price without any third-party costs added.
D2C brands tend to be a bit experimental in their shipping process, from self-shipping to customers to allocating shipping to most relying on 3PL fulfilment providers.
2.5) The surge of IoT and AI in Shipping
Using AI and IoT in transforming transport management is gaining momentum as a trend. As smart technologies, both AI and IoT have cleared visibility, analysis, reporting, and communication of data in the global transportation network.
AI and IoT in eCommerce shipping have helped resolve significant challenges: aggregating price levels from fluctuating fuel prices, forecasting route availability, gathering cohesive data and improving delivery performances.
From enchanted decision-making capabilities and tracking orders across routes to predicting and reporting inventory levels, central AI and IoT technology systems have helped smoothen the shipping process.
2.6) Green Logistics
Green logistics is a significant eCommerce trend that has gained massive popularity in the past couple of years. It relates to sustainable policies and practices that help combat environmental degradation caused by eCommerce and shipping, mainly adding carbon footprint.
Nowadays, many eCommerce brands are rebranding themselves as sustainable for a good reason. An estimate suggests that 41% of eCommerce brands in Shopify have decided to release their social impact, vision and goals to bring sustainable products to their customers. In the coming years, moving to environmentally and socially impactful supply chains will become necessary.
A sustainable shipping trend typically calls for reducing carbon emissions in the last-mile deliveries by electrifying the delivery fleet. IKEA, UPS, FedEx, and Walmart have already done so. Similarly, working with a 3PL, decentralising inventory centres, using parcel lockers and opting for recyclable packaging are good ways to bring sustainability to the fulfilment process.
2.7) Branded Shipping Experience
Did you know that 40% of eCommerce customers like to share their unboxing moments on social media if it is a branded packaging? While creating a brand strategy, the branded shipping experience often falls short of notice. Therefore, branded shipping is a must-have trend to gain brownie points in the post-purchase experience of your customers.
The basic requirements for branded shipping include eye-catching branded boxes, unique packaging fillers, aesthetic presentation of your product, free stuff like samples, and customised messages for your customers.
2.8) Enhancing Last Mile Deliveries
Last-mile is the heart of eCommerce shipping, but it is also the point where challenges occur with delays, missing addresses, government regulations, changing customer requests, traffic conditions, and more. Exceptions in Last-mile deliveries account for 50% of total supply chain expenditure for an eCommerce business.
Enhancing last-mile deliveries goes beyond using light eclectic vans or drones (such as Amazon Prime Air) for faster on-demand deliveries. The trend demands improvement in the entire shipping process. Promoting warehouse proximity to customers, such as urban warehousing, is gaining traction to save shipping costs and increase the return of investments in warehouse operations.
Moreover, investing in AI and machine learning for route navigation and vehicle routing are effective ways to optimise the last-mile delivery. Communicating with customers in real-time and arranging for real-time parcel delivery and tracking is a must.
2.9) Faster eCommerce Shipping Solutions
Free shipping and same-day delivery are well-established trends in the eCommerce industry today. Providing faster eCommerce shipping solutions call for thorough scrutiny of the supply chain system, from redistributing inventory to optimising the last mile delivery.
One trend that remains intact over the years is two-day shipping, with expedited and same-day deliveries gaining rapid popularity. A report by ReadyCloud suggests that 61% are ready to pay extra for same-day deliveries. Moreover, faster deliveries require faster solutions to challenges in transit, and 96% of customers expect businesses to solve issues within 24 hours of shipping.
2.10) Hyperlocal Deliveries
The growth of hyperlocal delivery is an eCommerce shipping trend that is predicted to rise to $3.65 billion by 2027. That’s a giant leap! A hyperlocal delivery caters to a limited geographical area by connecting sellers directly to consumers.
Initially, the model worked for food delivery businesses. Now, it is gradually incorporated into other eCommerce and 3PL services. This model has revolutionised the operations of “regular stores as they serve local customers as a fast shipping option. The idea is to use the local fleet for faster deliveries, earn quick revenues, and form connections with customers directly.
3) How to Keep up with the Latest Trends in eCommerce Shipping?
Now that we have described the major eCommerce shipping trends, are you wondering how to regularly gather this essential information and update yourself? Don’t worry; we are here to offer you practical suggestions to follow.
3.1) Keep up with the News
There are excellent sources of information and editorials to inform you of the latest happenings and eCommerce shipping trends in the logistics world. Here are a few publications you can check: DC Velocity, American Journal of Transportation, Inbound Logistics, Logistics Management, and Supply Chain Management Review.
3.2) Talk to Experts
Supplementing your reading materials with expert opinion is the best combination to understand these trends and create your shipping strategy that keeps up with the expanding trends.
3.3) Scope out your Competition
Observing and analysing your competitors is a sure way to understand their eCommerce shipping and gauge which trends work well for your industry.
3.4) Check Other Industry Trends
To get a wholesome picture of the eCommerce shipping trends, we would recommend you keep track of shipping in other industries that are relevant to your brand.
3.5) Use a Shipping Software
To transform theory into practice, you can use shipping software to keep track of your shipping needs and hop on the bandwagon of eCommerce shipping trends. You can use multiple software that suits your business needs for multi-carrier integration, freight forwarding and management, eCommerce shipping, shipment tracking, and more.
4) How will these eCommerce Shipping Trends Impact your Business’ Shipping Needs?
The ultimate goal of adopting shipping trends is to satisfy customers and upscale your brand. Therefore, it is pivotal to know how these eCommerce shipping trends will eventually impact your business.
4.1) Tackle Rising Customer Expectations
Since the launch of Amazon Prime in 2005, customer expectations have risen to new heights. To keep floating in the competitive eCommerce marketplace, you have to satisfy customer needs quickly, especially regarding delivery times and the shipping rate you charge. eCommerce businesses have to rehash their shipping policy to decide whether to provide same-day, free, or expedited delivery to keep their hold over customers.
4.2) Manage and Forecast Inventory Better
Many shipping trends rely on how efficiently businesses manage inventory. Incorporating technology such as AI into managing and predicting inventory availability and location across channels and forecasting demand and sales will become common in the immediate future. Moreover, the occasions for redistributing inventories closer to customer locations will rise further.
4.3) Monitor and Improve 3PL Performances
The growth of 3PL providers has been phenomenal in recent years for upscaling the fulfilment operations of any eCommerce brand. The focus will now redirect toward monitoring and improving the 3PL services with automation, cloud storage to access information on KPIs etc.
4.4) Automate Shipping
Automating shipping is an immediate consequence of keeping up with eCommerce shipping trends. It is expected that automation tools and software will take care of tasks involving order verification, shipping label generation, scanning barcodes, managing inventory, and setting up reorder points.
4.5) Gain Better Brand Recognition
eCommerce shipping trends have majorly risen post-purchase customer experience. So your shipping strategy and branding will decide if you surpass your customer’s expectations or not.
5) What to expect from eCommerce Shipping in the future?
The eCommerce shipping trends we have mentioned are here to stay or evolve into other better versions. Technology-driven changes such as AI, IoT, and unified commerce are expected to grow further this year, with relaxed covid restrictions. eCommerce is expected to pick up further momentum. With it, shipping is predicted to align with better inventory, transport, and sustainability management.