Customers have high expectations for business’s shipping processes. They want to place an order and receive an “order shipped” email as quickly as possible. If that doesn’t happen, they may be left disappointed.
Worse yet, if the product arrives damaged or is lost in transit, they may never shop with you again!
As a business owner, you understand the connection between customer loyalty and retention and the shipping and fulfillment speed. The faster you can get the order processed and shipped to the customer after they place it, the better they’ll feel about their experience with your business.
It takes a lot of planning and work to make that happen, however. It’s important to streamline your shipping process and minimize delays and the unexpected to deliver this for your customers every time.
Learn how to create an efficient shipping process that provides excellent customer service, from the moment the order is placed to the second it’s in the customer’s hands.
Keep the Focus on the Customer
Shipping and fulfillment are both part of the overall experience. It’s not enough to ship quickly if the order takes weeks to process, and conversely, rapid fulfillment is useless with significant shipping delays.
Both of these processes need to be optimized to create a positive experience. Here’s what goes into the fulfillment and shipping process:
The customer places an order on your website and begins the fulfillment process. You have to ensure the product is in stock and begin processing the order, which could mean purchasing the product yourself, going through your existing stock, or sending your products to a fulfillment center for processing and shipping from a third-party logistics provider.
Order processing is verifying the information for the order, such as validating the shipping address and checking that the payment goes through. You can perform this process manually or use automation tools, which can take a lot of the tediousness out of the equation. Automation does all the work for you and updates the customer about the order status in real time, giving them peace of mind that they will receive their product.
Once the order is processed and verified, it’s ready to ship. Most businesses choose the most cost-effective shipping method possible, based on the delivery address, while others offer the option to choose economy, standard, or expedited options at the customer’s expense.
For order fulfillment, you can do it yourself or use dropshipping. Some businesses outsource the fulfillment and shipping process to a third-party logistics partner, which frees up a lot of time. Depending on the provider you choose, you may have the product picked, packaged, warehoused, and shipped by the company, saving you a ton of time and effort.
Whichever option you choose, it’s important to consider the pros and cons. With dropshipping, you’re not in control of the process, someone else is. You could end up shipped defective, damaged, or incomplete products to your customer, which falls on you.
Self-fulfillment gives you control over the entire process, but it’s a lot of work. That may be fine for a few orders, but if you plan to scale, it’s unrealistic to think you could handle fulfillment on your own. You could hire people, but then you have the hassle of that process as well.
Third-party logistics providers are setup to streamline the fulfillment and air freight shipping process for you, freeing your time to focus on your business. The right partner will consider how the product’s condition reflects on you, and when you’re ready to scale, the partner can scale with you.
Goals for the Shipping Process
An efficient shipping process should deliver a product to a customer as quickly as possible. In a world of free one- or two-day shipping from major retailers, customers have come to expect this rapid shipping from virtually every ecommerce business.
Of course, it’s not enough to just be fast – customers expect to have the right product delivered to them and in good condition. Mistakes happen, but you can minimize them with the right processes in place to ensure products arrive quickly and in good condition to the right delivery address.
How to Create a Shipping Process
Choose Your Software Stack
Shipping software is abundant, giving you plenty of options for choosing the right solution for your shipping. Some options include Aftership, Shipstation, and Shippo, all of which have their own pros and cons. Consider your options carefully.
Plan the Verification Process
The verification process is the most time-consuming aspect of order processing, so it’s best to choose software options that can verify your orders quickly. Ecommerce management or inventory management solutions typically include a verification system,
but you can also complete the process manually using the name, product category,
or SKU. These systems may also have verification for addresses to ensure the customer’s address is accurate and standardized, minimizing delivery problems.
Purchase Shipping Supplies
If you’re using self-fulfillment, you need to make sure you have all your shipping and packing supplies to ship as soon as an order is verified. Some products can ship in their own packaging, such as electronics, but you may need additional supplies to protect products or ship boxes with multiple products at once.
Keep in mind that some products require special labeling when shipping, such as perfume or flammable products. Make sure you have this on hand.
You may also want to add a free gift or thank you card to your shipments to show customer appreciation. This isn’t necessary and certainly won’t make up for a bad experience, but it’s a nice touch on top of a positive customer experience.
Create the Perfect Shipping Process
The fulfillment and shipping process is one of the most important aspects of customer experience. A positive experience means loyal, repeat customers, while a bad experience may mean a customer never returning. It’s important to design your shipping process around delivering exceptional customer service.
Author Bio: Sidney Karanja is the founder of Savo Store, a logistics and procurement services provider that works with corporations, start-ups, and non-profits, to help them acquire and transport goods to their offices in Africa. Savo Store also operates a platform that allows individuals in Africa to shop hassle free at any U.S. retailer. Sidney founded Savo Store with the goal of eliminating some of the hurdles that plague cross-border transactions between Africa and the rest of the world