Warehouse to every house: Business Model of next big business house
PUNE, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA: Gone are the days when shopping in a physical store, hopping from one store to another to “see”, “feel”, “bargain”, and cherish the time spent outside. Why and what has led to this e-commerce boom?
-> Advancement of Technology
-> Cheaper Internet and Smartphones and Laptops
-> The luxury of Home Delivery
-> Extreme Consumerism
-> Changing Lifestyle
-> Everything to be done Quick
-> Deep Online Discounting
-> And of course, the spread of Covid
Practically every and all types of products and services are available online today. Testimony to this is the ever-growing customer base that eCommerce is enjoying.
Are you also wondering about how to start an online business? Or What do you need to start a business online in 2021? Or What is the best idea to start an online business?
These may seem to be daunting questions at the moment, but they are not.
To start an online business – you need an idea. Everybody feels the idea has to be unique. Not always true. Sometimes the same concept executed with better operational excellence is also possible. After all, we are all in the game for profits. Prima facie is the idea. Then comes market research, business plan development, and financial planning. The building blocks of any business. Then comes the execution of the same for which, the key is building a robust application or web interface, order management tracking. You need not build an extravagant interface with all the available features. Best is to start small and scale up and grow organically and gradually.
Critical is to keep it simple for the consumer to traverse and do product discovery (along with the very basic requirements like order tracking). Another pivotal aspect is the route to market. How do we plan to deliver the first-mile delivery, mid-mile delivery, and last-mile delivery? This is where the operational excellence, management, and control of business lies. First-mile delivery is the distribution and delivery of goods from the manufacturer to the warehouse. While last-mile delivery is the delivery from the warehouse to the end consumer. Most companies use only these two mechanisms. A new profound method developing is the mid-mile delivery concept. Here a local warehouse (in city limits) is used. The goods go from the mother warehouses/regional warehouses to these mid locations. This reduces the transit time and to the customer drastically. This mid-mile delivery has a lot of positives. It gives you the option of BOPIS (buy online and pick up in-store) or a self-pickup option for the convenience of the customer. (The local warehouses need not be “warehouses”. They can be your retailers or your physical stores also. This gives some equity and business to the physical stores as well, thus protecting their cost and investments also.
If you use the retailer network of yours for this, it is also known as hyperlocal or quick commerce – where local shops in a community are used to address the business problem. A latent benefit of a consumer coming to pick up is, they may be tempted to visit the store inside and do additional shopping. This mid-mile delivery leads to the imperative decision of strategic locations of warehouses. The warehouse, be it regional or local, needs a very tightly controlled and monitored order management system., which is linked to the application or website. Concepts like real-time inventory reflection is a must for a great consumer experience. Thus managing a warehouse with standard operating procedures is a must to ensure a smooth order flow. Last comes the step of having customer support. Since everything is virtual or digital, having super-strong customer support and service is a definite requirement. All these steps of deciding where the warehouse should be located, real-time order tracking, real-time inventory reflection, or customer and after-sales support are great customer delights. They will only help you to build a strong customer base.
To address the question of which is the best business idea, there is no correct answer. All industries are lucrative for an eCommerce business, as it is a growing and blooming space to be. The crux is how well you define the standard operating procedures, the decision of which market to target first, the operational excellence plays a role. Today the world has grown to the extent that you can start a home-based business as well.
-> Start slow and grow gradual
-> Follow standard operating principles
-> Grow Organically
The world is not shifting (if not already shifted) from warehouse to every house!