5 Pitfalls of In-House Order Fulfillment
In-house fulfillment has many moving parts, and things can quickly go awry if you aren’t careful. While some mistakes like the occasionally shipping delay can be unavoidable, it pays to take preventative measures to keep things running smoothly. Watch out for these five fulfillment mistakes that can damage your online reputation.
1. Improper packaging
When you have a sudden increase in orders, it can be tempting to package them up as quickly as possible. While customers appreciate timely shipping, getting the items to their door safely is a top priority. That means ensuring everything is packaged well to prevent damage.
As the old saying goes, haste makes waste. Poor packaging means damaged products and unhappy customers, which inevitably leads to returns and wasted money. If a product arrives damaged, you'll either have to pay to replace it plus the cost of shipping again or issue a refund. Not to mention smoothing things over with the customer can eat up more of your busy workday. It can put a damper on things when a customer opens a package only to see it arrived damaged.
The lesson? Package products well and don't rush through the fulfillment process, no matter how busy you are. If you're struggling to get orders out on time, offer your workers a little something extra to stay late and pitch in until the job gets done.
2. Unreliable delivery
The shipping method you choose matters. It's essential to use a reliable delivery service so that orders arrive promptly. Customers hate waiting for late packages. The problem is if the shipment arrives late because of the carrier, it becomes your problem. The customer will contact you to figure out what is going on. As anyone who has ever waited on hold with USPS trying to locate a missing or delayed package knows, it can take up a big chunk of your afternoon. Small business owners don't have that kind of time to waste. Stick with a traceable and reliable shipping method. It will pay off in the end.
3. Shipping orders late
While you can't always control the shipping speed once the package is out of your hands, you can control how long it takes to prep the order for shipment. You've done so much work leading up to a sale, but the job is not over until the product leaves the warehouse.
Keeping a strict order fulfillment protocol makes the process efficient so that orders don't ship late. If you find yourself continually shipping late or barely making it to the post office in time, there are steps you can take to improve things. Perhaps it's time to hire an assistant, or maybe you could work on your time management skills. Either way, customers will appreciate receiving that shipping notification email promptly.
4. Shipping the wrong order
Imagine you just ran a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, and the day has come where you have to fulfill hundreds or even thousands of rewards. How will you handle it? If you're crowdfunding, it's unlikely that you're a logistics pro. Likewise, you may not have a shipping center, trained workers, or order fulfillment experience. Even more, established eCommerce businesses sometimes have trouble picking and packing orders correctly. Take your time, and be sure to double-check the order slip before sealing the package. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
5. Inconsistent packaging
Sometimes you use bubble wrap, other times you don't. Last month you used white paper boxes, but the next time you order packaging materials, those are sold out, and you have to choose a different option. The last order had tissue paper, but the next time the customer receives their order, the product was just placed in the box without it. And one product shipped with protective materials to prevent spillage or breakage, but the next one arrived shattered because you forgot it.
When you are handling in-house fulfillment yourself, things are changing all the time. But consistent packaging is an essential part of branding. With in-house fulfillment, you'll have to manage to buy your own packaging supplies. Vendors can run out of the materials you usually use, which can cause you to switch things up so often that when the customer opens the package, it looks like it came from a different company. There's no connection happening.
The packaging materials you choose convey a lot about your brand. Consistent packaging helps solidify your brand, cementing it into the customers' minds and letting them know what to expect when they order from you.
In-house order fulfillment can be challenging. Streamlining your process, checking for inconsistencies, and treating each order with care goes a long way toward building your online reputation. If you need help, consider working with an eCommerce fulfillment company. As order fulfillment experts, they can pick and pack your orders the right way every time.