SMEs Must Plan For Peaks As The Norm, Not The Exception

Although big shopping holidays like Black Friday and Valentine’s Day only last 24 hours, peak season planning takes time and is an ongoing process. Here are three key factors to best prepare for the upcoming peaks.

E-commerce is exploding in Asia, with e sales for Asia-Pacific expected to total US$1.37 trillion in 2017 according to e-Marketer1, and hitting the US$3 trillion by 2021. China took the lion’s share with 53.4% of total e-commerce sales in the region and 494 million buyers2. While numbers for Asia Pacific can be skewed by China, it’s too simplistic to put this growth down to merely the China factor and its huge domestic market. Interestingly cross-border transactions are surging with Forrester Research projecting that cross-border sales will constitute 20% of e-commerce sales globally by 2022 with Asia Pacific the largest region3.

Two key considerations have emerged in the last two years in light of this phenomenal e-commerce growth in Asia. One is the challenge of planning and optimizing operations to deal with these mega-event peak demands in addition to the traditional holidays. Secondly there is the prospect of a year of multiple peak periods as opposed to just a handful of mega sales days and the Christmas rush. We see heightened sales peaks recurring through the year with the emergence of brand-dedicated events such as Dell’s Black Friday in July sale or eBay’s long-running Green Monday sale. While these are US-centric, it would be no surprise to see others in Asia drive similar major promotions.

Planning for these one-off events must now become part of ongoing operational planning and not a one-off project. Business operations must be ready for these spikes as they become part of daily business. To best prepare for this dynamic shift in business operations, here are some key considerations to help prime your business to prepare your next peak period and drive growth and expansion.

Global e-commerce requires a highly complex ecosystem:
Whether it is peak season or not, we believe that global e-commerce must be supported by a highly integrated, scalable and complex global ecosystem which few partners can genuinely provide. This ecosystem must encompass global reach and the power to reach millions of consumers, but also secure payment, fulfillment, tracking, returns, even shopping cart management – but also the right intelligence to expand choice, flexibility, and to customize the overall service experience.

Dynamic and customized experiences:
When demand hits peak loads, then flexibility and convenience are key to ensuring an optimal experience for both the end-consumer but also for merchants.

For instance, expand alternative delivery options.  As more and more consumers shop online, having a package shipped directly to their doorstep is not always an option. So look to service providers who invest in more self-collection solutions like 7/11, locker boxes, as well as more flexible and convenient delivery options like FedEx Delivery Manager, which allows recipients to customize home deliveries.

In the world of IoT, connected sensors and smart devices, the ability to provide near real-time monitoring from inside the shipping package itself will be critical to businesses in healthcare, but also to shippers of food and other perishables, while also ensuring consumers receive their goods in prime condition

Global and robust infrastructure:
When businesses are stretched to the limit you need your people focused on the business and leave the fulfillment and delivery process to capable and trusted partners to worry about. Small and medium-sized businesses need access to a logistics network that helps them achieve profitable, scalable, global growth. That’s what services like FedEx Web Services – which recognises that businesses need help to ship seamlessly to international locations – are all about.

The hot buzz-fueled areas of AI, IoT, big data and others are all being touted by players in the industry but no apps or innovations can replace the aircraft, trucks or other infrastructure that underpin the physical transportation and delivery of goods. For your small and medium business to be successful, you need to be supported by providers who have a global and robust infrastructure that ensures the physical process of fulfillment and delivery is executed flawlessly. So ensure your providers have the right infrastructure to help deliver a truly global e-commerce experience.

 

 

[1], [2]  “Asia Pacific Retail and e-Commerce Sales 2016-2021”, eMarketer, August 9, 2017

[3] “Forrester Data: Online Cross-Border Retail Forecast, 2017 To 2022 (Global)”, Forrester, April 20, 2017.