Ecommerce has made shopping easier, and it has become popular because it offers more than the traditional instore retail. This is not to say that ecommerce has an advantage by every single metric, but there is no denying that ecommerce seems to offer customers what they are looking for. The main effect of this has been that retail businesses now nearly always have an online component to their service – if they are not entirely online.
The great advantage of this for ecommerce businesses is that it is easier than ever to reach the largest possible customer base. Geography is no longer a barrier to who you can reach with an ecommerce site, but it would be wrong to claim that geography is irrelevant.
Ecommerce still contains a large component that is not virtual, not least the products themselves. And more than that, the whole fulfillment process of any ecommerce venture – the sourcing of inventory, warehousing, and delivery aspects – are very much affected by the geographical dispersion of one’s customers. Not least because it takes longer to deliver to the customers who are farther away.
Sometimes this can put a geographical limit on a business’s reach, but this is a limit that is receding further and further with time – for all ecommerce sites. Shipping and Handling of Texas, an ecommerce fulfillment service out of Sugar Land, Texas, says that you should target closest customers first and then expand your reach as you grow. The reason for this is, again, the fulfillment resources you have at your disposal.
What Customers Have Come to Expect
This means that business growth is a matter of expanding your reach and the efficiency of your fulfillment service. However, you cannot just go at your own pace. In fact, it is the leading ecommerce sites that set the rules of the game because they reach many more customers than other ecommerce sites and they raise the expectations of all customers in general. Nothing illustrates this better than the case of next day delivery.
Next day delivery – and even same-day delivery – is something offered by all the major online retail companies, including Amazon and eBay. This means that ecommerce companies can only keep pace with this developing area of business by offering the same – or as close to it as they can get.
Naturally, geography is important here too, and you could even find yourself faced with the choice between serving fewer customers with speedier delivery or expanding into wider markets without the type of delivery services offered by the Amazons of our world.
A Delicate Balance
More customers are always better, and you might think that serving more customers with slower delivery is the better idea – as long as you are still making sales. This is actually true. However, if you do not offer speedy delivery, you might not be able to make those extra sales at all. There is no point expanding to national distribution if those customers are going to pass over your company for one (perhaps closer to them) which will deliver their goods faster.
Of course, it depends on what you are selling too. You could have an incredibly unique specialized product, something that customers will not mind waiting a bit longer for. This is rarely the case though, and the masses of inventory available across online retail ensures that most customers can get what you are offering elsewhere.
In such cases, you need to meet their expectations and that could well mean next day delivery. If you cannot offer this, it might be wise to keep your customer base closer to home for the time being.