Shipping orders sound easy, but getting it right every time is key to gaining loyal customers. The supply chain has many moving parts. Failing at any one of them, even just once, can result in losing customers. As the old adage goes, it is easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
What is order fulfillment?
When a customer places an order, the fulfillment process begins. For e-commerce businesses, that usually means printing invoices, picking inventory, packaging items properly and choosing the shipping service are all tasks you will need to do.
Order fulfillment mistakes can be costly
Once the customer finalizes the order, the clock starts ticking. There are many steps from getting your product out of the warehouse and delivered to the customer. Getting it done in a timely manner — without any errors — is crucial to avoid delays, customer complaints and lost money.
In our fast-paced world, customers want their orders yesterday. Improper packaging, damage in transit, slow shipping speeds and incorrect orders are not something they are willing to tolerate. Make a mistake, and the customer might never do business with you again.
Fulfilling orders quickly and correctly is important
Customers are counting on you to get it right. They may have a birthday or holiday coming up, and they chose your item as the gift. Even everyday items such as housewares and toiletries should be treated with just as much attention when you ship them.
Customers want to receive goods fast, and they will not tolerate mistakes. Shipping in a timely manner and getting the correct items to their doorstep is no longer considered “good” or “above-average” customer service. It is the minimum expectation.
Amazon re-defined fast shipping ever since they introduced “free” two-day shipping. Heck, they have even pioneered overnight and same-day delivery for a growing number of items. Customers view speedy and precise order fulfillment as the norm. To survive, your e-commerce startup may need to offer similar incentives if it can. If not there ought to be another unique selling point to make up for it. Either way, prompt order fulfillment is still important to keeping customers happy.
Handling order fulfillment problems
Mistakes will happen from time to time. Despite doing your best, there is always the chance that errors will happen. Let’s explore what happens when order fulfillment mistakes occur.
Mistakes cost you money
Delayed orders, damage during shipping and incorrect shipments mean you have to pay to ship replacement items again. Small mistakes can add up over time.
E-commerce retailers sometimes operate on small margins. Supply chain mistakes not only cut into your profit but sometimes you can even end up losing money on the sale. Minimizing mistakes keeps your operating costs down. That is why having an efficient order fulfillment process is so important.
Dealing with unhappy customers
Even the most streamlined operations can suffer from shipping delays, damages, incorrect orders and other failures along the supply chain journey. So, how do you retain customers when order fulfillment mistakes happen?
This is where stellar customer service comes in. We won’t get into the details of how to keep customers after you’ve made a mistake because that is too big a topic for this blog post. But suffice it to say, online retailers must respond to complaints quickly and correctly in order to stay in business.
Your reputation is on the line, and customers are judging everything from your tone to response time. It is a tight rope to walk, and even the best customer service will not remedy the situation every time.
The takeaway is to prevent order fulfillment mistakes in the first place so you don’t find yourself losing profits or trying to convince dissatisfied customers to stay.
Need help with order fulfillment?
Order fulfillment may not sound like rocket science, but there is plenty of room for error when you are busy running a business. As you can see, small mistakes can be a big deal in the customer’s eyes. It can also drain your wallet. Enough mistakes can put you in the red. The worst-case scenario is that you can go out of business thanks to bad order fulfillment practices. Outsourcing order fulfillment tasks to a pro can save you time, stress and money by ensuring orders are fulfilled correctly every time.