By Karen Reddington
Year-end holidays are around the corner and it’s a joyous time for most, with people busy buying gifts for their near and dear ones. It can be a challenging time for businesses that work around the clock to meet peak demand shipping windows.
In Asia Pacific, there isn’t a single peak season but a series of highs and lows through the year. SMEs, during peak cycles across the region, certainly need a smart logistics partner to easily and efficiently capture opportunities.
Logistics is a complex business, one that can sometimes prove too unwieldy to be managed entirely by a small business owner. That’s where the role of a logistics provider takes on importance. An established logistics partner brings value to SMEs through a well-established network, diversified solutions to address customers’ needs, and tools to automate and streamline the delivery and distribution process – helping SMEs increase overall profitability.
Automate where possible
As a small business, your strongest ally is automation – it really is the key to improving efficiencies while handling high demands with limited resources.
Ensuring customers get their shipments on time during the holiday season is the most fundamental benchmark of logistics planning. By automating as many backend processes as possible, you do away with human error and can instead focus on your products and customers.
Let’s talk about customs clearance – a major sticking point for SMEs involved in cross-border shipping. The paperwork involved can be an immense burden, counterproductive even. At FedEx, we handle over 15 million shipments daily, so we understand the customs issues SMEs face. Documentation can be transformed into a seamless process, easily handled, if there are electronic options or services offered by logistics providers.
Something like FedEx electronic trade documents can streamline document submission time, reduce chances of missing or damaged documentation and mitigate against potential customs delay leading to delayed shipment and putting your customer relations at risk.
Of course, a small business can’t just decide to automate each and every step right away – it can be a big jump. So, why not start out small? Scalable solutions are a no-brainer for your business. Time saved through automation may seem inconsequential at first, but in the long term, your business will likely see clear benefits on time and costs saved – especially during holiday seasons!
When it comes to automation, SMEs are also harnessing new technologies to expand their business. For instance, a fast and easy payment method will provide greater flexibility and convenience when it comes to managing the logistics needs. QR (Quick Response) Pay, a secure and convenient QR-code based mobile payment option by FedEx, is an example of how to facilitate an efficient shipping process by enabling businesses to pay for their shipment online using credit cards, PayPal and e-wallets like AliPay and WeChat Pay easily. This is crucial especially during busy times when SMEs need to tackle large orders efficiently.
Customers demand personalization
Strong relationships with your customers no doubt fuel loyalty and repeat purchase. But that relationship doesn’t simply stop after a transaction is complete. What follows next can make or break your relationship with your customers. This is where the ‘new normal’ of personalized logistics comes in. Personalization is about driving greater flexibility – with the power to customize delivery options – preferably at no extra cost to an SME or its customers.
Customers want to see value in the money they put in, be understood and catered to. But for the business owner, offering hyper-personalized service is easier said than done.
Growing volumes of cross-border transactions and varying shipment handling procedures across countries can make personalization difficult and cause delay and extra paperwork – resulting in a counterproductive delivery experience. SMEs should select a logistics partner that can provide personalization solutions each step of the journey, down to the last mile.
Services like self-collection locations (where customer can collect their package from a secure location or a convenience store); new, advanced tracking that can nickname shipments (that customers can view on their mobiles quickly); ability to change the delivery details, or receive text updates that a package delivery is about to be completed can help enormously.
At FedEx, we help SME e-tailers at the front end to close more business on their website, and on the back end in after-sales service, matching shipping strategies with customer needs.
Transparent, real-time tracking is important to the customer
While your customers are likely to appreciate a smooth delivery experience, what they will love is the ability to track and trace their purchased item as they await delivery.
Take FedEx Delivery Manager, which offers shipment personalization options such as delivery notifications, sign for deliveries in advance, have shipments delivered to a secure location, suspend deliveries and more – all to suit your customer’s needs.
Smart Logistics will elevate small businesses
Smart logistics can be an indispensable resource for your business to help you conquer every step of holiday season shipping, boosting business profitability and long-term growth. You save on the most crucial resource: time, which can make the difference between success and struggle.
Karen Reddington is President, Asia Pacific at FedEx Express.