Is your fulfillment provider making the grade? Whether you’re coping with the busy holiday shopping season, an important sales promotion or just a regular day; the success of your eCommerce store is riding on your fulfillment. With increased customer expectations for order accuracy and on-time delivery, your fulfillment provider is tested every time an order comes through your store.
Don’t jeopardize customer satisfaction and future sales with second-rate fulfillment services. If your order fulfillment company is letting you down by failing on any of the following key deliverables, it’s time to get smart about fulfillment.
SIGN #1: Your Customers Complain about Fulfillment Errors & Damaged Products
A flood of customer service calls and emails regarding incorrect and damaged shipments could be the first sign your current eCommerce fulfillment company is lacking. Best-in-class fulfillment providers have an industry average of 99.94% picking accuracy. A small number of errors may be inevitable. However, your rate of errors and damages should be negligible, and not experience dramatic increases during peak times.
Twenty-nine percent of customers will never buy from an online merchant again, after receiving an incorrect order. If your incorrect or damaged shipments are tracking above average, your fulfillment center may not have the technology and infrastructure needed to maintain order accuracy. A fulfillment company that guarantees 100% order accuracy will have processes and procedures designed to minimize errors and damages in shipments, including: barcoding, shelving systems, automation, quality checks and packaging standards.
SIGN #2: Your Customer Support Team is Unresponsive
Your ability to provide excellent customer service to your customers relies heavily on open communication with your fulfillment service provider. You need an easily reachable and reliable fulfillment support specialist to be your eyes and hands on the warehouse floor. If you are unable to reach your eCommerce fulfillment company’s customer support or experience prolonged delays in response times, chances are your customers are having similar experiences, and your customer retention and profits are in jeopardy. Look for a fulfillment provider who guarantees a quick response time and makes it easy to communicate.
A dedicated client support team should be available to quickly address issues as they arise, and also be proactive in communicating potential challenges before they escalate. Delays or discrepancies should be communicated early on to put solutions in place, ensuring your customers are not affected.
SIGN #3: Your Orders are Not Shipping in a Timely Manner
Your customer expects an estimated or guaranteed delivery date at checkout. Timely delivery is dependent on the order being picked, packed and ready for carrier pick up as quickly as possible. Slice Intelligence, a Rakuten company, found average delivery times decreased form 6.3 days in January 2014 to 3.4 days in January 2016, meaning customers expect faster delivery now more than ever. Unfortunately, speedy delivery of your customers’ orders may be jeopardized when you outsource to the wrong eCommerce fulfillment company.
Not meeting customer expectations for order turn-around times could cause your company big losses in revenue, as customers are less likely to repeat business following a poor customer experience. It is up to your fulfillment provider to receive inventory and order notifications in a timely manner and get orders out the door as quickly as possible. Partnering with a fulfillment company who follows a principle of Speed!! Speed!! Speed!!, guaranteeing receiving and delivery times, will ensure happy customers.
SIGN #4: Your Costs for Shipping & Storage Continue to Rise
Carriers increase their rates annually, however large fulfillment companies ship millions of orders, which gives them access to discounted, high volume shipping rates. If your current shipping rates do not allow you to provide low-cost or free shipping to your customers, you are probably losing out on business! Partner with a fulfillment provider that makes it a point to provide their customers with the lowest rates available to save you money on shipping.
In addition to increased costs of shipping, fulfillment costs can also creep up unexpectedly in the form of storage fees. Some fulfillment warehouses charge higher storage rates during the holiday season when merchants require greater amounts of inventory in stock. Be aware of storage costs and choose a partner who makes fulfillment billing easy to follow.
SIGN #5: You Are Denied Access to Your Products in the Fulfillment Center
Occasionally, merchants may need physical access to the fulfillment center. For example, manufacturers often send inventory straight to the fulfillment center. When this happens, merchants are not able to inspect product shipments before they go live.
Unfortunately, many fulfillment companies do not allow merchants to visit the warehouse and view their product. If this is the case with your current 3PL, you may want to find a partner who is transparent about their warehouse operations. RSL will guide you through a fulfillment center tour and give you peace of mind with the current state of your stocked inventory.
When was the last time you evaluated the performance of your current eCommerce order fulfillment provider?
The RSL Shipping & Fulfillment Evaluation can reveal how well your current fulfillment operations measure up. RSL is fulfillment done smart, helping merchants meet long-term goals through optimized fulfillment operations SmartSuite family of cloud-based technology and services. To learn more about how RSL can save you time and money on fast and accurate shipping and fulfillment, contact one of our expert fulfillment advisers today.