Very few people think of what happens after their customer clicks the purchase button. With the simple click of button, a chain of events is initiated that has a profound ripple effect behind the scenes. When launching a new online store or product line, focus tends to go entirely to things like website design and product descriptions, and the delivery experience is often neglected.
Retailers must not only provide great products at great prices, but also a competitive delivery experience. Your fulfillment process is a part of your customers’ experience and should be a prime focus for your business.
So, if you’re launching a new business or looking for ways to improve your current ecommerce experience, take the time to analyze fulfillment and delivery. Whether you pick, pack and ship your own orders with an in-house team or outsource fulfillment to a trusted third party, here are six key fulfillment metrics you should stay on top of:
Speed and accuracy are terms you will hear repeatedly when it comes to order fulfillment. These two metrics are the cornerstone of order fulfillment. Speed in receiving refers to how quickly inventory is received and shelved. The quicker inventory is received and stored for picking, the sooner it is available for sale. But that is only half of the equation – It is also important to note that receiving inventory accurately, with the proper labels and correct counts, ensures the start of an efficient order fulfillment process.
How closely does your recorded inventory count reflect your physical inventory? If your inventory isn’t accurate, you should start implementing changes to improve it. Maybe utilize an online inventory management system or partner with a fulfillment center. Inconsistencies in product levels can lead to overselling and suspension. Not only does this create logistical issues, but also a disappointed customer who now must wait until new stock is received for their order to be processed.
Order Processing Speed
With Amazon Prime, the 2-day shipping speed is expected from consumers. For individual retailers that means same-day order processing. Not making the cut-off times for carrier pickups can add an additional day for delivery. You may not have direct control over shipping times (i.e. delays on behalf of the carrier), but you do have control over how quickly an order is processed and ready for delivery. Do not allow pickup windows to be missed! Be extra cautious of cutoff times for days preceding a holiday, in which shipping carriers may not deliver.
Order Tracking Availability
Customers want to know expected delivery dates and shipment updates. An impatient customer can be put at ease with a simple tracking notification. Providing order tracking as soon as possible with relevant updates is a vital part of shipping and increases customer satisfaction. Also, implementing order control software is a great way to have an efficient fulfillment process. As a bonus, automating these tracking updates will alleviate your customer service team of requests for order updates.
The most critical metric of successful order fulfillment is delivering the correct product and the right amount, each and every time. Orders with the wrong products affect the likelihood of a repeat purchase and the cost of issuing a return is a huge profit drainer. With a staggering 23% of returns due to incorrect items, focus on delivering with 100% order accuracy.
Successful fulfillment includes successful returns. A well-executed return can instill trust and create a loyal customer, while a poor customer returns experience can cost you repeat business. When a return is due to sending out an incorrect shipment, it is your second chance to prove yourself to a customer– don’t let the customer down! Returns should be easy and quick for your customers to initiate and for your team to process.
The order fulfillment process is a critical component of customer satisfaction that cannot be neglected. Regardless if you fulfill your own orders or outsource to an order fulfillment provider, 100% accuracy, same day order processing, quick return processing, and tracking will always be the metrics that impact your customers’ experience the most.
Routinely evaluating these key fulfillment metrics can prevent issues and avoid delays for customer delivery. By improving these key order fulfillment metrics, you can improve the customer experience from “click-to-ship” and promote repeat purchases.
About the Author: This is a guest post by Rakuten Super Logistics. Founded in 2001, Rakuten Super Logistics is a leader in ecommerce order fulfillment, serving hundreds of ecommerce retailers to increase speed of delivery, improve order accuracy, decrease shipping costs, and increase customer satisfaction.