It’s 2017. It’s almost a given that your business needs a healthy online presence. If you’re a retailer, you’re probably met with confusion (or even mild outrage) when that presence doesn’t include an e-commerce option. With Australian e-commerce growing $5.79b in the last 4 years, and reports showing that almost 80% of Aussies online prefer to purchase digitally it’s easy for business owners to feel like they are missing out when they’re not competing in this space.
However, there is a growing trend of bricks-and-mortar businesses withdrawing from or refusing to participate in ecommerce – and by-and-large this comes down to ROI. What does that little shopping cart icon truly cost your business, and are there real-world ways to counter the not-so-obvious overheads of online trade?
Are you staffed up to fulfil the upswing in online orders?
As the festive season closes in, online retailers can come undone when trying to complete the orders they receive. Deliveries in Australia pose quite the problem with 85% of online shoppers wanting same-day shipping, but only 55% willing to foot the bill.
Relying on the postal system can be costly (a dollar for a single stamp? You’re not made of money.) So, to keep customers coming back, these expenses either need to be countered – by managing delivery in-house – or offset by savings on another overhead, such as wages.
Aligning digital orders with real-world inventory, then picking and packing requested items takes serious time. This immediately cuts into the time spent on your physical store, or with in-person customers, so failing to schedule staff in-line with fulfilment demands compromises customer experience both on and offline.
If you’re destined for online success, you will quickly be able to identify where you can build fulfilment considerations into your rostering. Whether it be scheduling more juniors to offset costs during online sales peaks, or invoking a more flexible employment model so pickers and packers are part of your team when needed, you’ll be open to innovation in your staffing models.
When is the right time to hire extra hands?
Say you get everything right. Your marketing rocks, your sales are exploding and you’ve managed to cut shipping costs. How do you keep up with the growth?
Even if your online sales outweigh the offline sales you’re losing when staff are distracted from real world duties, there is the looming threat of the tipping point. If your success builds faster than your team, eventually, you won’t have the staff to keep up.
On the other hand, hiring staff on the expectation that sales will continue along a specific trajectory can be costly. Think of all the times you’ve hired casuals in October to prepare for the Christmas rush and then have paid them to stand around for several hours at a time?
For online gains to be meaningful, you’ll have to sustain and grow them. The ability to grow your roster without getting bogged down in applications and scale back when things get quiet are crucial to efficient and effective growth. Again, retailers who are equipped to avoid digital disaster are open to non-traditional, more flexible hiring options.
Does temporary staffing determine online success?
Once their digital strategies are sorted, retailers don’t have to lose out online if they can find efficiency in the way they staff. When boiled down, both fulfilment and scalability are a question of finding the right formula for wages to sales. If you can use temporary employees to ramp up your staff numbers just for a couple of days to process post-Christmas returns, or trial having an additional team member once you’re sure the Christmas rush has hit, fulfilment and scalable staffing become simple.
While retail has one foot firmly planted in the digital realm, it’s still at a stage where online success requires offline activity. There’s still a necessary human element to online execution, but it doesn’t have to cost the world. With temporary staff meeting needs only when and where they need to be met – retailers can offset the costs of their online gains, with increasingly less offline pain.