The order fulfillment process is key to customer satisfaction. Together with last-mile delivery services, order fulfillment represents the face of any organization. Say, for instance, some of your warehouse duties are substandard. If some items are not properly packaged or if they are damaged during delivery, customer expectations will not be met. Not only will you have to implement reverse logistics, but it may also turn customers away and affect your company’s reputation.
Likewise, when retailers experience issues with their inventory counts or have high shipping costs, they see an increase in cart abandonment. Statistically, some 63% of online shoppers cite “excessive shipping fees” as being the reason why they abandoned their purchase. Similarly, 38% of online shoppers abandon their cart if they see that the delivery of their order will take longer than a week. By comparison, that number is close to 8% if the shipment will arrive in three days or fewer. In looking at the impact on a business’s reputation, 69% of buyers say that they are less likely to shop from the same retailer again if their purchase wasn’t delivered within two days of the promised date.
Looking to the near future, global B2C eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. This is up from $2.5 trillion in 2018. As for B2B sales, these will go up from $7.7 trillion to a whopping $17.6 trillion. And while 74% of online buyers say that free shipping is a critical factor at checkout and to earn their repeat business, it’s also important to remember that it costs retailers, on average, 70% of the order’s total value to pay for its eCommerce fulfillment.
There are several ways to improve customer satisfaction while helping increase productivity, optimize inventory accuracy, lower the transportation cost, and provide a steady return on investment. The majority of these issues can be solved by partnering with a reliable and professional third party logistics (3PL) company that leverages advanced fulfillment technologies.
One way to boost customer satisfaction is by anticipating customer demands throughout the year. Even though it’s next to impossible to predict all customer trends, you can look at the previous years’ consumer demand and try to draw general conclusions based on that information. This will also help with your inventory accuracy and warehouse management. If, for instance, a product sold out too quickly last year, you can track inventory and prepare better for this year’s sales.
Another useful tactic to improve your fulfillment operations is to make sure that the services you provide are fully optimized. To do this, you should audit your fulfillment strategy at least once per quarter to identify any areas that may need improvement. If your customer base receives incorrect items, or if the orders are delayed, it’s likely that you will experience a dip in the overall number of satisfied customers. By raising your standards when it comes to the accuracy of your supply chain strategy, adding a third-party logistics provider can lead to increased productivity and boost customer satisfaction.
A Seamless Shopping Experience
Today’s customers demand a seamless shopping experience; otherwise, they will move on to a different retailer. Be it online, through an app, or in-store, your shoppers need to have several options to make a purchase. Professional third-party logistics providers will need to have a strong order management system capable of handling these different shopping and delivery options.
3PLs will be able to optimize and track inventory, as well as allow you to fulfill orders from several sources at the same time. This will make it that much easier to offer different services like in-store pick-up or buy-online options. Professional 3PLs should also know how to navigate and apply best practices within an omnichannel environment, ensuring that your customer base has the same experience consistently, regardless of which shopping method they use.
It’s also a good idea to implement a same-day shipping option wherever possible. Some fulfillment centers will typically go ahead and arrange for last-minute orders for a small processing fee. As a retailer, you want your important customers to be able to place an order after the cutoff time and still enjoy high-level service. It’s important to remember that professional 3PLs proactively maintain good relationships with shipping carriers and negotiate rates so they can pass volume discounts down to their clients.
We all know that first impressions count for a lot. This principle applies to meeting new people to customers receiving their first items from a retailer. Small details, like having a neat, new, and clean package, professional-looking labels, or even customized packing tape, will count for a lot. Inside the box, the items should be stored securely and protected from jostling or dirt. Likewise, the last person that handles the order needs to do so with the utmost care. It’s not uncommon to see negative reviews from customers complaining about the poor handling and packaging of their items.
Similar to how the package’s presentation helps increase customer satisfaction, so will the delivery services provided. Typically, you’ll have something along the lines of a “just leave on the porch” (JLOP) or a pick-and-pack model. Going one step beyond, you have what’s known in the logistics industry as white-glove services. This type of service will usually include elements like in-room delivery, product staging, removal of packing materials, assembly or disassembly.
Not only will these white-glove services make you look more professional and exceed customer expectations but will also eliminate the incidences of packages being stolen from your customers’ front doors. Keep in mind that over a third of online shoppers in the United States fall victim to these, so-called “Porch Pirates”. These types of services are usually a hallmark of a reliable and professional 3PL.
A third-party logistics provider should provide full transparency in everything from quality control to warehouse safety measures. 3PLs should provide you with an accurate and efficient fulfillment system that shows data, including real-time tracking.Your customers should also receive prompt shipping data and tracking details throughout the order fulfillment process. When everyone has access to this data, there won’t be any unwanted surprises. This is one area where blockchain technology comes in handy and streamlines your overall supply chain strategy.
When customers have a positive impression of your eCommerce order fulfillment operations, they are far more likely to become repeat customers or even brand advocates. Focusing more on these strategies will help you improve customer satisfaction and grow your business.