Retail has come a long way in recent years, thanks in no small part to e-commerce. Since the early days, the order fulfillment process for retailers has seen an almost complete overhaul. This is due to the fact that the customer’s buying approach has evolved with technological advances. With the advent of the internet and technology, customers have come to expect more efficient and timely services.
Additionally, customers are also looking for companies that are going to provide the best customer service experience possible. A great customer service experience and improving your order fulfillment go hand in hand.
Take a look at some tips and tricks on how to best improve your e-commerce fulfillment and give your customers the best customer service experience possible.
3PLs, or third-party logistics providers, offer a wide range of benefits for e-commerce distribution. A 3PL will be able to manage your inventory and storage, handle your order fulfillment and even optimize your supply chain process.
These providers are the experts when it comes to logistics, which frees you up to focus on larger-scale or more immediate problems. 3PLs can improve your e-commerce fulfillment through easy integration with current systems and they can grow with your company.
3PL providers are also great for shipping dangerous and hazardous materials, which you can find at AirSeaContainers. They can take the worry about safety compliance and legal requirements away by handling it for you.
Consider Two-Day or Same-Day Shipping
In this day in age, the average customer has become acclimated to a short delivery in terms of shipping times. Most notably, customers seem rather accustomed to Amazon’s standard two-day shipping and same-day shipping options. It might be a good idea to look into offering one or the other in certain scenarios. Check with your current carrier or potential carrier to determine if that is possible.
E-commerce is no different from any other business in any other industry. An online business must maintain its competitive edge, and improved shipping times can be one of the defining factors.
Handle Returns and Refunds Properly
When it comes to handling your returns and refunds, you cannot optimize enough. Unfortunately, this tends to be where companies stand to lose the most customers. Customers going through the returns or refunds processes are still very much customers. Ensure your returns and refunds procedures are just as smooth and painless as the others. This will help to ensure you keep repeat customers.
By optimizing your returns process, you will ultimately optimize your fulfillment. Your customers will feel confident every step of the way so that even if something goes wrong, they can trust in your business to handle the issue at hand accordingly.
Outsource Wherever Possible
Wherever and whenever it makes sense to, outsource. We touched on outsourcing 3PLs specifically, but if your budget allows it, consider outsourcing for any service your company might need. This may include outsourcing legal services, marketing services, shipping services and so on.
One major advantage of outsourcing multiple services is that it often cuts down on expenditure and man-hours. This allows you to focus your spending and employees elsewhere. Additionally, when you outsource from a different company, they are the experts in that particular service. Let the outsourced specialists do what they do best so you can prioritize other business concerns.
Find the Perfect Balance of Customer Communication
Transparency and communication are essential keys to improving your e-commerce fulfillment. How little or much you communicate with your customers can have a drastic effect—communicate too little and they may feel you don’t care. Too much communication, however, and your customers may become annoyed.
Be sure to keep them in the know throughout the entire fulfillment process. Let them know:
- When their order is expected to ship
- When their order actually ships
- An expected delivery date
- When it is delivered
- Updates on location
- That you have a transparent and easy to understand return and refund policies
Customers who feel like they are well taken care of and looked after will quickly become repeat customers.
Perform Regular Inventory Checks for Accuracy
How accurate is your inventory? Or, a better way to phrase that would be, how accurate is the inventory list your customers see? Do you regularly update your inventory lists and make sure what is listed on your store matches what you have in inventory? Are there ways to improve your current process? There is nothing worse for customers than finding an item they want to purchase, placing the order, paying for it and being told much later it is out of stock.
Keep your inventory as accurate and up-to-date as possible. This is another area where outsourcing or using a 3PL provider would be beneficial. These experts could analyze your supply chain and fulfillment process and offer solutions—ultimately, saving you time and money.
Improve Efficiency with Integration
If your e-commerce site is like most, then you are probably selling your products on other channels. These can be social media, Amazon or other retail sites. If you have multiple mediums, look into integrating them as seamlessly as possible. This will improve your order fulfillment process by allowing for real-time tracking of stock and streamlined communication.
Measure for Growth and Expansion
The ultimate goal of any business is to grow and expand. In order to ensure your business is on the right track, you need to measure the factors that make up your company. A few key ways to set your business up for success is to evaluate any of your current third-party providers or outsourced services. Are they able and willing to grow and expand with your company as well?
When it comes to e-commerce fulfillment, knowing that a 3PL provider can grow and expand with your company by offering a variety of scaling options is invaluable. Eventually, you may need to add new shipping locations and have higher volumes of shipments, or even the products themselves may change.
Whatever the reason, knowing that your carrier and service providers can scale up or down with you ensures that your customers always have a smooth customer service experience.
The Importance of Optimizing E-Commerce Fulfillment
By focusing on providing the best customer service experience possible, managing and planning for growth and automating and outsourcing when possible, you will start to see improvement in your e-commerce fulfillment processes. 3PLs offer a great variety of benefits for your e-commerce logistics needs while outsourcing in other areas may free you up to focus on your order fulfillment. Whatever the case may be, always look for ways to improve your order fulfillment process.