While eCommerce had already experienced a boom before the pandemic, it has undoubtedly become more prominent in our lives right now. eCommerce’s prominence is driving the Asia Pacific economy forward, with millions turning digital for goods and services.

Since the previous decade, the internet’s proliferation in the region has played a huge role in eCommerce’s development. The number of internet users in Southeast Asia has ballooned from 260 million in 2015 to 360 million in 2019. This trend gives eCommerce industry members an ideal playing field to expand their businesses, and it is up to them to get ready for success.

How to stay ahead

Devising the ideal eCommerce logistics strategy is a lot more than merely arranging goods to flow from one point to another. Since there are no bricks and mortar stores and aisles, eCommerce's customer experience is all about the overall purchase flow and door to door delivery services.

In order to stay ahead as a merchant, you need to focus on service quality, set promotions and create engaging content. The end goal is to serve their customers well enough that they become regulars. In this case, every touch point matters: from the loading time of your website, accessibility, ease of navigating and completing a transaction, quality of promotion or value-adding content, to seamless delivery and customer service. If you can address all these issues, chances are customers will be satisfied of the overall experience and will come back again.

Out of all these aspects, seamless delivery is arguably the most crucial aspect. An eCommerce business could have the best user experience and the most engaging marketing campaigns, but an unreliable supply chain can easily offset all the hard work. Companies wanting to leverage the internet boom must meet these criteria in its delivery: speed, reliability and satisfaction of the overall experience. At the end of the day, users aren't just receiving a parcel, but a part of a holistic customer experience: fast delivery, no defectives, and feeling pleasant about the interactions.

To ensure your supply chain is in its A-game, you need to evaluate it and identify any potential gaps, so you can close of any weak links in the customer experience. For example, examining the logistics costs and lead time can help you identify where the delivery gaps are. If you find any speed or service reliability issues in the process, such as delayed fulfilment or defects, you can increase customer satisfaction by fixing them one by one.

Similarly, evaluating your shipments' schedules and finding ways to track your deliveries can bolster your supply chain's reliability. Your end users will be less likely to encounter late and missed deliveries. You can even find ways to improve the overall experience with the right technology and experience.

Things to consider

To satisfy all three aspects of speed, reliability and customer satisfaction, here are the key deliverables:

  • Investing in technology to track shipments and predict schedules accurately
  • Devising cost reduction strategies by understanding supply chain operations and each destination’s customs tariff
  • Investing in your company’s culture to stay flexible and communicative
  • Keeping track of best practices to optimise service-level agreements
  • Sourcing a partner to handle your everyday operations and paperwork

These points can help you optimise your eCommerce capabilities, so your business will leverage the region’s internet boom and consumer demand. When you source a logistics partner, pick one that has the technological expertise to help you handle more than the day-to-day logistics issues.

An ideal long-term partner should possess enough technological capabilities to improve its supply chain solutions and deliver better services to end-users. That's why a capable partnership should also help you negotiate for better rates in different countries for you, such as shipping, storage and management. As your guide in a new market, the partner should already have established a network of other partners across functions and have a sound understanding of the local culture and business environments.

For a transactional partner that takes care of the execution side of logistics, you may hire a 3PL partner. But for a more substantial partnership with long-term prospects, consider a 4PL or 5PL partner.