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In logistics and transportation, on-time delivery can be a gamechanger for any business. It enhances customer relationships and can directly increase logistics sales and business. Whether it’s e-Commerce shipping, B2C or B2B delivery services, the time and condition of package during delivery, the convenience and ease, gives a business its competitive edge. And while theoretically this is doable, the reality is not always so easy. Let’s on that note look at B2B delivery meaning, its role in eCommerce shipping, its challenges, B2B delivery tracking systems, and some strategies to optimise B2B same day delivery services for business.
B2B transportation and delivery is a growing field worldwide, especially in India, where eCommerce is penetrating local and regional markets. Businesses need to constantly work with different vendors, suppliers and distributors to ensure the timely flow of goods. And logistics transportation can play a pivotal role here in ensuring that first and last mile delivery is functioning at its best.
B2B delivery meaning
Let’s start with the obvious – what is B2B delivery?
B2B stands for business-to-business. B2B delivery service therefore refers to commercial transactions and transportation of goods from one business to another. For example, the shirt you bought from a retail store required – (a) purchase and transportation of raw material, i.e., cloth from the manufacturer in bulk (b) the actual stitching process and transportation of the finished goods to retail stores. As can be understood, there’s a wide supply chain and logistics network involved, including B2B delivery of goods at multiple stages.
Characteristics of B2B delivery services
- Involves transactions for large volume of goods and bulk shipping to businesses, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors etc.
- Has longer sales cycles that may call for multiple shipments over a period of time
- May involve custom product development/manufacturing followed by specialised packaging and delivery, e.g., palletised shipping, cold chain logistics
- Usually involves multiple stakeholders and a complex supply chain ecosystem for the movement of goods from one business to another
- May require special vehicles for transportation (e.g., special trucks, lorries) or the use of rail transport and/or air and waterways transport, and equipment for handling products (i.e., loading and unloading)
It must be remembered that b2b delivery service is not for large businesses only. Even a small manufacturer, when buying goods for their business is engaging in B2B transactions. For instance, if you are a small manufacturer, manufacturing ceramic ware, you will have to buy the numerous raw materials from different vendors and get it delivered to your factory. You will also have to ship the finished goods to your retail clients for selling your products.
Types of B2B delivery services
Let’s take a moment to look at the key B2B delivery types that are used by business. In general, most businesses use a combination of these for optimising supply chain and logistics operations.
Part truckload shipping is a preferred form of B2B delivery service especially when small volume of goods has to be shipped. Small businesses often have small shipments that do not take up full truck space. PTL shipping is beneficial here as it provides safe and secure transit, is more economical and on-time, and will ensure that b2b shipments happen seamlessly.
B2B on-demand delivery
In B2B businesses, goods delivery is usually planned and scheduled. Most businesses follow a particular stock reorder quantity formula to calculate inventory requirements and plan deliveries. However, there are times when businesses order goods ahead of times anticipating demand. This requires the supplier to stock goods and map delivery routes and schedules to meet demand-based timelines. Naturally, when it comes to bulk b2b transportation this can be challenging, considering the meticulous detailing and accuracy required.
Just in time delivery in b2b
Another popular delivery type for B2B models is Just-in-Time or JIT delivery. This refers to a strategy where goods are pulled and not pushed through the supply chain. This reduces inventory and waste. This model requires goods to be in an almost ready state that can be completed quickly when orders come in. Just in time delivery in B2B therefore requires businesses to work with logistics providers who have the fleet required to provide prompt logistics services as and when required.
Just in time delivery in b2b e commerce
The JIT delivery model can also be very effective for B2B eCommerce. For instance, an online furniture company can use just in time delivery in b2b e commerce to fulfil orders for product customisation. It will require a robust supply chain operation (including having local suppliers to deliver raw materials quickly) and collaboration with third-party logistics service providers for B2C or B2B deliveries. Here’s how it can work:
- Customer orders for 1 unit of dining table with 6 chairs in green fabric.
- As a part of e-Commerce order fulfilment, the team at the production centre will start work after checking inventory (for example, if the desired green fabric is unavailable, the local supplier will be contacted immediately for same day B2B delivery).
- Once the order is ready, the product will be shipped from the production centre or warehouse to the retail store in the city for last-mile delivery to the customer, or shipped directly to the customer through the 3PL provider.
- In this case, the actual product is almost ready – it only requires final touches of customisation. Through same day B2B delivery services, the specific requirement of green fabric is procured from a local supplier. With JIT in eCommerce B2B delivery the final assembly is done and the product is ready to be shipped in 1-2 days without having to store heavy inventory.
B2B same day delivery
Same day delivery or SDD and next day delivery are the main drivers in eCommerce shipments. But it is also picking up with B2B deliveries. Commercial same day delivery services are getting popular in the B2B sector as well keeping up with changing business requirements. Hospitality, food and catering, grocery retail, pharmaceuticals, florists, auto parts and components, are some businesses that are using B2B same day delivery services extensively. This requires the 3PL provider to have a strong network of fulfilment centres and infrastructure to meet the needs of the time sensitive customer.
Here are some quick tips for having an efficient b2b same day delivery system:
- Keep a strict cut-off time for placing orders – i.e., based on your network, ensure to commit to same day B2B deliveries only if orders are placed within a certain time, such as by 11 a.m. This will ensure that orders are placed on time, you don’t have to stock inventory beyond a certain time, and you can commit to meeting deadlines on a daily basis.
- Target industries and businesses where on-time delivery can be a competitive edge – For instance, it’s preferable to do same day B2B delivery for a florist business or an event decorator than an apparel manufacturer. While speed matters in all businesses, there are businesses where freshness of goods procured matter most. For other businesses, there’s always the option to opt for expedited shipping for quick one or two day deliveries.
- Use technology for communication, updates and B2B delivery tracking – In all delivery systems, communication, sending timely updates, and enabling real-time tracking is critical for success. B2B delivery tracking enables businesses to know the status of their order, without having to check with the company. Details like order status, pick up time, dispatch time, ETA, can all be tracked using a tool.
B2B last mile delivery
When it comes to B2B deliveries, last-mile delivery can be challenging considering the volumes it deals with. Whether it’s distributing goods from the distribution centre to the retail store, or the factory to the purchasing company’s warehouse, there are specific requirements for packaging (e.g., eco friendly packaging), compliance and billing details (e.g., bill of landing) that need to be adhered by. Some tips to help businesses optimise their B2B last mile delivery process are:
- Optimise delivery routes – As a B2B delivery company, you are probably working with a fixed client base. Their warehouses, stores, manufacturing units, distribution centres are also in fixed locations. As such, build a route map that is optimised in terms of distance travelled, time taken, roadblocks and obstacles faced, etc. Also, consider having 2-3 alternative route options so that based on contingencies route can be re-routed and optimised.
- Use a combination of vehicles – Last mile delivery services for B2B and B2C usually involves road transportation. This means, if you want to ace transportation by roadways, you need to maintain a wide fleet at your disposal. This does not mean you have to own all the vehicles. It means you have to have a wide network of dependable logistics partners to avail services, e.g., collaborating with a trucking company for trucking services.
- Offer diverse delivery schedules – Provide your customers with the option to choose when they would want their packages to be delivered e.g., same day, next day, JIT, scheduled, on-demand, etc. This would give you the flexibility to allocate resources for optimal results. Also, leverage tools and logistics technology for B2B delivery tracking, insights and analytics, performance and more. Remember, clients will have specific delivery needs. Based on your client needs, your logistics delivery schedules and resources can be allotted.
The business impact of efficient B2B delivery solutions
For B2B delivery companies, what matters most is efficiency in delivery and customer satisfaction, while keeping transportation cost at a minimal. The delivery landscape is changing and with proper planning and adoption of tools there are several areas where logistics companies can improve the B2B delivery process.
Some highlights of how a smooth delivery system can improve B2B logistics delivery are:
- Higher sales, repeat business, and revenue
- Effective communication between all stakeholders
- Reduced logistics and transportation costs
- Lower warehousing, storage and inventory expenses
- Seamless process optimisation and coordination between departments
- Higher customer satisfaction and loyalty