Fulfillment is one of the most important aspects in the selling process. After all, without prompt and accurate shipping, the order hasn't really happened.
Customers Come First
We created the term “Satisfaction Chain” to describe the points in the interaction between business and customer that inform customer experience and, therefore, satisfaction. You can view the infographic here. Sometimes fulfillment is the weakest link, which certainly causes a business to lose customers. When orders are wrong, late, damaged, or not trackable, there is rarely a second chance to prove your worth. Those are just some of the rookie mistakes that can drive away repeat customers.
Checking Fulfillment Performance
It is a good idea to review your fulfillment performance annually to identify points for improvement or celebration, and to make sure you are still in the right partnership for your brand. We recommend undertaking this review in January, once the holiday rush has died down and it's time to wrap up the books for the previous year.
Great fulfillment in the current e-commerce climate is challenging with terms like “Amazonification” and “fast free shipping” swirling around while carriers raise their rates and tighten their requirements. Most businesses are looking for ways to stay profitable while competing for a consumer base with intense expectations.
Fortunately, the right 3PL can help you beat the Amazon effect. With consolidated shipping, better rates, faster packaging, and same day shipment, your fulfillment partner combined with excellent customer service can serve your target market efficiently while developing a relationship that leads to improved LTV. When you evaluate your current fulfillment service and as you look for a new partner, make sure to ask questions about speed and geographic reach, as well as shipping rates.
You may be starting from the point where you’ve outgrown your in-house capabilities. If this past year brought growth in your business, congratulations! Now it's time to decide if you can continue to do your own fulfillment, or if it's time to hire a third-party logistics provider (3PL) and concentrate your time on marketing and business growth.
This is a great problem to have, but it can be intimidating. Choosing your first 3PL is a serious task with far-reaching implications for your business.
There are many excellent guides out there to help prepare you for the search and the decision. Warehousing and fulfillment is a valuable source and they have extensive experience with numerous 3PLs. Check their guide to avoid these top 5 mistakes when choosing a fulfillment partner.
If your fulfillment provider just didn't cut it this year and you know that it's time to move on, this decision represents great opportunity for your business. You have learned a lot about what it takes to satisfy the needs of your customers and now you can apply your knowledge to find a better 3PL.
A word of caution... try not to focus solely on the issues from your existing partnership. It's easy to do if you're fleeing because of specific performance issues. For example, if there were a lot of mistakes on orders, but the software was user-friendly, naturally you want to check accuracy rates as you compare options, but don't forget to be thorough and check the software platform too. Every provider has different strengths.
One of the biggest concerns with a transition is downtime. Customers will continue to demand fast shipping times and losing service for a few days can degrade customer perception. It's a jungle out there, but the right fulfillment partner can help. Here are some points that will help you fine tune your fulfillment service experience.
Once you have made a decision to switch, we can help you plan the warehouse transition so that it goes as smoothly as possible with the least interruptions.