E-commerce continues to grow at a rapid pace, and with that, the fulfillment sector also. We interviewed CEO of Ship4you, Cristina Coelho, an expert in Integrated Logistics & E-fulfillment, to learn more about the trends shaping the future of e-commerce and fulfillment.
Talking with Cristina Coelho – CEO of Ship4you
How has the e-commerce sector evolved in recent years?
Cristina Coelho: The e-commerce sector has experienced exponential growth in recent years. It’s a trend that is expected to continue, albeit with a slight slowdown, as anticipated.
The significant increase was undoubtedly related to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the increased accessibility of the internet, especially on mobile devices, has changed consumer consumption patterns.
Today, it’s very easy to be on a train to work and quickly place an online order.
How is fulfillment responding to this growth?
Cristina Coelho: Our sector has been following the ecommerce growth and we are continually investing in new technologies and processes to improve the efficiency and agility of all operations.
One of the most important points is the speed and optimisation of the collection of information on orders from various customers on various platforms.
We must not forget that each client works with the e-commerce platform that best suits their needs, whether it’s integrated into their website, social network, or marketplace.
Another critical point is the choice of partnerships and interfaces with transportation operators to make the final step, order delivery, more efficient and faster.
What should e-commerce companies consider when choosing a fulfillment partner?
Cristina Coelho: There are several factors to consider.
I would start with what I consider the most important points.
The services provided are perhaps the most important for me: It’s crucial that the fulfillment company offers a range of services tailored to the client’s needs and size.
Fulfillment isn’t just about packaging products, it’s about the whole set of operations required to process orders, starting with the collection and storage of products.
Adapting and customizing each task for each client is one of the most important aspects.
Experience and knowledge are also essential: The fulfillment company must have experience and knowledge of all aspects related to e-commerce, from the purchase process to reaching the customer.
It should be prepared to support its client at all points in the chain.
Responsiveness is undoubtedly another important aspect: The fulfillment partner should be suitable for the company’s order volume and capable of handling fluctuations throughout the year, especially those caused by special client campaigns and seasons.
Location might be a point to consider: It’s essential, but not mandatory, for the fulfillment company to be located near the client’s main target markets.
Lastly, we can talk about prices. Although sometimes not the most important factor, prices should be competitive and tailored to the services provided.
What are the main opportunities for e-commerce companies in the Portuguese market?
Cristina Coelho: The Portuguese e-commerce market is growing rapidly, and there are various opportunities for companies that position themselves appropriately.
Some of the opportunities that e-commerce companies can explore in the Portuguese market include expanding into new markets.
The Portuguese market is relatively small, and companies can explore opportunities to expand into other European markets. E-commerce is now a new form of export.
Another opportunity is the growth of omnichannel commerce. Portuguese consumers are increasingly adopting omnichannel commerce, and companies should offer a consistent shopping experience across all channels.
Of course, omnichannel also considers physical stores, and most e-commerce operators do not have or plan to create physical stores.
You have to think about omnichannel beyond that scope.
Lastly, entrepreneurship is undoubtedly another opportunity. The Portuguese market is favourable to entrepreneurship, and e-commerce companies can explore growth opportunities through partnerships with small and medium-sized businesses.
Working in niche markets, whether in luxury, collectables, or others, where e-commerce can make a difference.
What are the main challenges that e-commerce companies face regarding fulfillment?
Cristina Coelho: One of the main challenges has to do with stocks.
Ensuring product availability, managing the minimum quantities in stock that are enough to meet customer demand, is undoubtedly one of the main challenges.
We must consider that, in addition to investing in purchasing a sufficient quantity of products, warehousing costs should be considered, making it unquestionably one of the main challenges.
This challenge is also linked to another important challenge, which is keeping the costs of all processes low.
Another challenge is delivering products within the stipulated time frame: Customers expect their orders to be delivered on time.
Finally, I think transparency and sustainability challenges should be addressed: What we do and how we do it should be clearly explained on e-commerce websites so that the end customer is not surprised and knows whether we are or are not complying with the basic rules of sustainability.
What advice would you give to an e-commerce company considering outsourcing fulfillment?
Cristina Coelho: Obviously, I have to advocate for my own interests.
Outsourcing fulfillment is undoubtedly the best option for e-commerce companies looking to improve the efficiency and agility of their operations.
If we think about the number of micro-businesses emerging in e-commerce, those that succeed in this area reach a point where they can’t continue to do everything on their own.
The most appropriate alternative is to rely on fulfillment companies that can support them in their growth.
However, it is important to choose a reliable, experienced fulfillment partner that offers a range of services that meet the company’s needs.
What are your expectations for the future of Ship4you?
Cristina Coelho: We are confident that e-commerce will continue to grow in the coming years, and the company will remain a leader in the fulfillment sector.
We invest daily in the development of our applications and in the search for new tools to help us enter other markets and offer services to meet the needs of our customers. It’s our customers who make us grow and think about the future.
How is Ship4you helping e-commerce companies grow in the Portuguese market?
Cristina Coelho: One of the primary ways is by offering a range of fulfillment services that allow companies to focus on their core business.
We can offer warehousing, picking, packaging, shipping, and returns services.
We can even go further for those who are just starting and help with domain selection and creating an online store.
This allows e-commerce companies to free up resources to focus on product development, marketing, and sales.
Since we offer customized services, we work with each client individually to understand their specific needs, whether they are technical, marketing, or fiscal.
We also adapt our pricing table individually, allowing clients to reduce costs and adapt as they grow.
What are the next innovations that Ship4you’s clients can expect in the future?
Cristina Coelho: We are very excited about the future! We will continue to invest in our team and data analysis to further improve our services.
Moreover, we are expanding our network of transportation partners to offer faster and more cost-effective delivery options.
Our commitment is to be a reliable partner for our clients, adapting to market changes and helping them achieve ongoing success.
Interviewer: Anabela Pinto