If you’ve ever lived with teenagers, the expression “Bigger children, bigger problems” requires no explanation. It essentially means that even though looking after small kids may seem work-intensive, it’s often kids’ bigger and older years that are the most complex.
Do a little wordsmithing and you could also be describing how things work in eCommerce, because as items increase in size, so do their fulfillment challenges.
These days, consumer online buying is not limited to small items that fit inside a box. Just about everything that can be bought in a store can be bought online. Fulfillment providers and carriers need to understand the sharp differences between handling parcel-size items and large products. As evidence, take a look at this table:
Or consider some of the other factors that are unique to shipping heavy items:
- Not being able to simply leave items at the door. The average couch, refrigerator or mattress can’t fit on the average doorstep, and even if it could, would you really want to leave an item that expensive out for anyone to steal?
- Higher cost of failure. It’s not unusual for last-mile heavy goods deliveries to cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars. As a result, having to handle a return and ship a replacement on your own dime could quickly turn a transaction from profitable to problematic.
- A highly-fragmented universe of last-mile providers. Even though some large national heavy goods delivery companies now exist, most still don’t rival the scale or track record of a UPS or Fed Ex. Hence you may find yourself dealing with one or more last-mile mom-and-pops.
- Greater service and price sensitivity. Although most customers are aware that their orders will include a delivery cost, many are still surprised by just how high that cost is when it involves shipping a heavy item. Additionally, most high-end customers expect greater levels of service and excellence simply because they’ve spent more money.
- Last foot delivery challenges. Mail and parcel carriers may have to worry about temperamental dogs. But they don’t have to worry about how they’ll get their deliveries into and out of tight freight elevators – or through tight doorways.
Like it or not, these challenges are part of the price of admission for selling heavy goods – even if you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer (why? because few consumers have the capacity or brute strength required to lift, transport and install these large items themselves). At the same time, that doesn’t mean they’re insurmountable, because with the right fulfillment and last-mile partners in your corner, there are many things you can do to make these high-value deliveries faster, smoother and more cost-effective.
I’ll share my thoughts about some of those things in next week’s blog, so I hope you’ll check back in soon. Meanwhile download Amware’s eBook “Can Your Fulfillment Operations Scale?” for other pieces of helpful information about managing your company’s growth.