In the eCommerce industry, there are aspects that portray sleepless nights for online store owners. Among them is logistics - which is why they are so eager to outsource it into the hands of professionals.
However, the matter is even more challenging when you sell non-standard goods: oversized, bulky, and heavy. Then additional complications may arise, because... not every fulfillment provider wants to take on the handling of such parcels.
But let's share the good news: in today's post, we will share our knowledge and experience in handling such non-standard parcels, developing and giving help to BIG businesses.
Large items handled with care
Anyone working in the industry knows how important it is from the point of view of consumers to be able to deliver quickly to the indicated place, enriched with real-time tracking of the shipment. Even more tricky is the situation when the goods ordered by the customer turn out to be... a huge sofa or a powerful closet. Or a heavy treadmill.
In such a case, the customer's expectations are further raised. One aspect is the need to bring the inconvenient package directly to the apartment. And it's clearly a game worth selling: research shows that by the end of 2025 as much as a quarter of all furniture purchased will be sold online. The industry of sales and related logistics of such large packages is growing at a really fast pace: only in the US the market for furniture and big appliances is expected to grow by 4% annually through 2025.
Of course, oversized and weight dimensions are not only closets and sofas: but also generally more bulky items and resources, such as toys and children's utensils (like strollers), sports or rehabilitation equipment, and company.
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An elephant in the logistics china shop: challenges in the supply chain
Is it possible to overcome the difficulties associated with the logistics of bulky and large items? At Linker Cloud, we know how to do it.
Here are examples of some of our selected tips for most popular problem solving, thanks to which we efficiently serve our non-standard clients on a daily basis.
Long delivery window enriched with a lack of supply chain visibility
When it comes to the issue of time, as we know from the available reports for customers, it is one of the key factors in completing a purchase. Consumers want really quick delivery. And while in the case of small parcels it is possible to realize one-day (or even same-day) delivery - in the case of big parcels, the time associated with delivery is sometimes stretched significantly. Especially since we are no longer talking about days - but making matters worse about... even weeks of waiting for the package to be delivered. And although the delivery window is set (more or less), it is an assumption rather than a certainty that the product will arrive at its final destination on the exact date.
What's more, with such out-of-shape shipments delivered to individuals, another problem looms on the horizon of potential problems - the need for the buyer to be at home for a whole day. This is because it is rare for furniture stores to agree on a specific time of delivery, specifying only the day of the courier's arrival.
And here we come to the deeper crux of the problem - delivery speed aside, buyers want to know what is currently happening with their order, so beware of the lack of delivery visibility.
Lack of knowledge of the status of the parcel also means less control, and thus can affect the emerging uncertainty and lack of trust in the store.
Some of the stores offering bulky items may not even have them in stock in the warehouse due to high inventory costs combined with expensive storage of such an assortment - thus, they are unable to deliver by date as most of ecommerce selling more standard assortment. Their items are located, for example, at different manufacturers or warehouses thousands of kilometres away from the target customer. Thus, after clicking to pay for an order, the customer has to exercise a considerable amount of patience. We will also draw attention to the fact that large equipment is also generally... relatively expensive. Thus, an online buyer is not only waiting an extra week or so - but what's more, waiting a long time for a high-value order, without being able to see what happens to the said order.
You have to admit that you don't have to be an expert in customer experience to recognize that this is not a comfortable situation. Perhaps not all customers, being aware of the above-mentioned inadequacies of service, will even decide to buy from a supplier who does not meet their (in their opinion) basic delivery experience requirements. Therefore, you need to choose your logistic business partners wisely and must create clear regulations related to delivery times for customers, preferably visible before checking out.
The matter of delivery fees and shipping costs
Let's be honest: shipping and delivery of oversized items are more expensive. It uses considerably more space, often requires special care (e.g. when transporting a fragile 80-inch TV it needs dedicated delicate packaging, not just extra tape), and requires at least two delivery men to bring the equipment from the van to the consumer's apartment.
I won't deny it: it's worth the price. However, someone has to bear these costs, and sometimes it's the end customer, who, let's not judge: just caught the bargain of a lifetime for the closet of his dreams, but after adding its delivery to the cart, the cost of the whole purchase operation increased as much as by.... 20%. Any way you look at it, the online buyer may be a little less happy with the transaction once it has been paid for.
However, this is not a situation without a way out - from a logistical point of view, it can be somewhat optimized. By betting on a more flexible approach, satisfactory results can be achieved. When it comes to modern solutions, technology allows retailers to use carrier networks or so-called gig fleets, so they can gain capacity while reducing the cost of shipping.
A necessary evil: the partial delivery
Ordering bulky items often involve the fact of breaking down one order into several packages. Unfortunately, it is still a popular situation in which.... not all parts arrive at the end customer at the same time. Let's make a deal: waiting for part of the garden furniture while part has already arrived is not a pleasure. The customer once has limited space in which to store some of the packages, and two - he still has to wait. The situation is not enviable.
However, this does not have to be the rule. It is possible to orchestrate additional moving parts to ensure that they arrive at the customer's doorstep on schedule. One of them is shipping oversized packages consisting of multiple packages on a single tracking number - delivered at the same time. If you are curious about how we handled this problem while serving one of our flagship clients, a company producing electric fireplaces - be sure to read the case study of our cooperation with TAGU.
And hassle-free return policy is a dream for many buyers. After all, when ordering online, a lot of things can go wrong: the package brought to you may be damaged, the goods do not look as imagined after reading the description on the site, or you may still... get the wrong package. Some data indicate that up to almost 50% of orders for furniture are returned. These figures may seem a bit inflated to the eye, but they emphatically show that the problem really exists.
How many cases, so many reasons. While returning smaller items in most cases is really easy (you order a regular courier or return directly to the store), the challenges multiply in the case of bulky items.
Some companies are trying to prevent returns before they happen - and are easing customers' lives by providing them with applications using modern solutions such as augmented reality. The popular Swedish brand, Ikea, has followed this example, giving customers the ability to download an app that scans a room and visualizes what a piece of furniture will look like in it.
However, if a return does occur, make sure that your logistics service provider can ensure that large items will be collected from the customer at a pre-agreed date. It makes life much easier not only for the buyer but also allows you to guarantee that the received parcels will be fully taken care of.
Complex deliveries can be easy. Period.
The logistics involved in handling big and bulky items, from whichever side you look at it, is a challenge. However, if you put it in the hands of true professionals, you have nothing to worry about.
The important thing is to bet on a company that is experienced in handling this kind of demanding orders - this will not only enable you to achieve sales success, but also ensure customer satisfaction and avoid delivery problems. Suppliers specializing in this kind of supply are hard to find on the market. However, it is not impossible - there is, for example, a brand as Linker Cloud, which will gladly bear the problem of big items for you.
I know what I'm talking about - take a peek, by the way, at the TAGU example already mentioned. Not only did we manage to cope with the service of overall dimensions as such - but we served the customer by introducing him to 4 new markets at the same time (and this is not yet our last word concerning this cooperation).
So if you are looking for a logistics partner for bulky items and impossible matters - visit our bulky items landing page, complete the form and trust our logistics experts. Thankfully for customers and bulky items business owners Linker is here in the right place ready to give a helpful logistics hand.