Cape Town – When you place an online order, oftentimes you do not think further than after having paid, and wishing that your order was already being delivered.
While it’s not impossible to imagine that that is exactly where technology will develop in the future, for the meantime we get to nervously wait two to five days for our orders to arrive.
But what actually happens between the moment of when you’ve pressed pay and having your package in your hands?
Recently, RunwaySale – which is an exclusive, free, members-only shopping society that has access to designer brands at discounted prices – allowed a select number of journalists to not only take a tour through their Cape Town warehouse but also pick out a few orders.
RunwaySale started in March 2012, with two determined young entrepreneurs – Karl and Elmien Hammerschmidt – grown into a business where they not only employ 150 people but sustain a thriving business, have two dedicated warehouse facilities, a JV with a courier company and offer over 1 million members more than 500 high fashion, international and local brands.
Although online is only around 1% of the total retail market in SA, it still equates to millions of Rands. It is growing and now, more than ever, they are excited about the future of their business as SA consumers start to embrace and enjoy the benefits and convenience of shopping online.
This proud husband and wife entrepreneurial team have made their mark on the local online industry and remained the only privately-owned online fashion retailer of such a large scale in SA.
Considering eCommerce has grown exponentially over the past few years and is forecast to be worth around R53 billion this year, it is no surprise that logistics regarding getting goods safely to their destination is all-important.
"The consumer experience must be fuss-free, from the first click on the website through to the purchase, payment, tracking of the product and final delivery," says Karl Hammerschmidt, CEO of RunwaySale.
"Our philosophy from the outset has been ‘service above all else’, which is why we embraced technology to keep on top of the status of orders and have two dedicated warehouses. Crucial to completing the order and keeping our members happy is the delivery, so finding the right courier partner was really important and we’re pleased that we now have JVs with two which has helped enormously with turnaround time."
What was fascinating about being in the warehouse is that it gives you perspective and a little more appreciation into what goes into allowing for an online order to reach you so fast.
Here is a look into some of the steps in that process:
Picking and packing
"eCommerce is a dynamic industry where customers shop online 24/7. To stay on top of orders, we developed a customised management system that is technology driven. From the moment a unit of stock enters the warehouse doors it is tracked until it reaches the customer. The electronic system allows the team to see immediately if the unit is in the Cape Town or Johannesburg warehouse and how quickly it can be dispatched.
"We have sophisticated business intelligence in place in terms of reporting, internal business processes and even integrations with our partners and suppliers," Hammerschmidt said.
The RunwaySale team allowed all in attendance to go along with one of the trained runners and pick an order.
From the warehouse to the customer’s door
"Data collection has become more intelligent so we are able to be far more accurate about delivery times," explains Hammerschmidt.
"We offer a delivery estimate for our customers which factors in the time it takes for stock to arrive at the warehouse through to being picked, packed and delivered. It means they can manage and control their delivery by adding or removing different items in their basket that may have various delivery times."
On average, once all the items for an order are available to be picked, it takes the warehouse less than 4 hours to dispatch. Delivery, depending on the area, averages from same day to 3 days.
Feeding into the ‘service above all else’ mantra, customers are also able to track their order online. This includes monitoring the entire process: From when items are assigned from the warehouse, ready for picking, packing and shipping. They are also alerted via SMS when the parcel is on its way and with the average customer satisfaction rating at 97% over the past six months, clearly things are working for RunwaySale.