The key to creating happy eComm customers who keep coming back for more is a killer order fulfillment process. 

Oh, trust me. I get it. It’s not one of the most invigorating topics to talk about over a cup of whatever suits your fancy (depending on the time of day, mine would be coffee) with fellow eComm business owners. But it’s necessary. 

Here’s the deal…

Your order fulfillment process is the backbone of your online business. 

It’s the skeleton of support you need to consistently attract customers and satisfy them with your product(s). 

Generally speaking, “fulfillment” could mean one thing to you and another to someone else. 

But for the purpose of this blog, we’ll refer to it as the process of getting your amazing product from point A to point B in the time you say it will take.

Yes, the details of your product (quality, presentation, functionality, durability, personalization, etc.) play a big role in customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. But let’s specifically focus on the logistics of fulfilling your customers’ orders.  

      • Product availability 
      • Packaging
      • Shipping & Deliverability

Product Availability

It’s no secret that the supply chain challenge continues to be a heavy burden for eComm business owners. Whether it’s the availability of your actual product(s) or the raw materials you use to create your product, this ongoing dilemma makes it difficult to create a smooth fulfillment process

Difficult? Yes… but not impossible. 

With some insight, planning, and intentional action, you can still build your client base with happy customers who continue to come back for more of what you offer.

As the fulfillment saga continues to plague us across the globe, it not only matters how we think about this reality, but also how we respond

At some point, we eComm business owners have to concede to the fact that it is what it is and carry on. 

Granted, there are certain things that are out of our control. However, there are particular problems we can find effective solutions to. 

For example, with a little time and determination, you can find a backup source for your product and/or the raw materials you use to create your product. 

Product availability is the anchor of a successful fulfillment process. If you don’t have a contingency plan, nothing else matters in the fulfillment process. 

It’s always a good idea to source your materials from a variety of different places. 

 

Packaging

No doubt, this is the most exciting part of the order fulfillment process. I mean, who doesn’t respond well to a beautifully wrapped package and a personalized note? 

Personalization definitely adds a special flare to your order fulfillment process.

Now, I’m all about every aspect of packaging eye candy – fun wrapping, fluffy tissue paper, handwritten notes, but it’s not the most important thing in a successful fulfillment process

If waiting weeks for the creative fluff you like to include in your packaging means your customers aren’t getting their product in the time you told them it would take, then wait just a hot eComm minute. We need to talk. 

The spark that ignites the momentum of satisfied customers who keep coming back for more is a fulfillment process that guarantees they will receive their order in the time that you say. 

Creative packaging and handwritten sentiments are just the icing on the cake of a job well done.  

Shipping & Deliverability

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of successfully moving your product from point A (you) to point B (customer). 

Assuming you have the whole product availability and packaging thing figured out (back-up plan for the back-up plan), let’s talk about the final steps of your fulfillment process – shipping and deliverability.

First of all, consider what is a reasonable amount of time for your customer to receive their order. On average, five to seven business days is a typical turnaround time. 

Once you have determined this, take advantage of every opportunity to clearly communicate what kind of time frame they can expect – website, order confirmation, email newsletter, etc.

Keep in mind that certain circumstances, such as holiday seasons, labor shortages, and product availability, can have a significant impact on the time it takes for your customers to receive their order. Maintain a good pulse on these ever-challenging factors.

It’s good business (and customer service) to consistently monitor your turnaround times and keep your audience informed. 

Regardless of the shipping platform you use, each one allows you to track your packages from the time of pickup to delivery. Use this free service. This is a convenient way to know how long it takes your package to move from point A to point B.

Offering alternate shipping options is one way to ensure you meet your customers’ expectations, put a smile on their face, and keep them coming back for more. 

For example, if you typically ship via the US Postal Service, but you see it’s taking much longer than the five to seven business days you are promising, you can offer upgrade options – UPS, FedEx, Overnight Delivery.

Sure, these options will cost a little more, but the most important thing should always be the most important thing – your customers get what they think they’re getting in the amount of time you tell them they’ll get it

One of the biggest challenges small eComm business owners face is failing to recognize how critical their order fulfillment process is – until it’s too late. 

I’m not “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” sort of gal, but rather a practical planner and problem solver.  It’s my nature to consider potential worst case scenarios and find a solution. And my favorite place to do that is in the eComm industry. 

I believe that supply chain challenges and shipping shenanigans will be an ongoing obstacle for online product based business owners. No one really knows if it will be short or long term. Regardless, every eComm business owner should assess their risks (worst-case scenarios) and have at least one back-up plan in place for every level of your product fulfillment process

If you enjoyed this article and would like to listen to my full recap on order fulfillment, check out my podcast “Fulfillment – Why it Really Does Matter”.

Want a FREE audit of your order online store and order fulfillment process? Be sure to join our Facebook group (it’s FREE, too) for a chance to receive live feedback from me regarding your product, site, and order fulfillment process.

BIO

Dawn Sinkule, the Founder of Digital Dawn, is an MBA graduate, Strategy and Business Growth Consultant as well as a Certified Online Business Manager with more than 16 years of corporate experience working for a Fortune 50 company. Dawn and her team work with passionate six figure business owners who want to grow, expand, and explode their businesses. Her clients get not only the experience of a Fortune 50 leader, but also a personalized and customized strategy as well as an implementation team: AKA your secret weapon for success. Dawn and the DD team provide your choice of  self-implementation or fully done for you solutions, and both include detailed business strategies, automation, systems, and most importantly the satisfaction of knowing your business is heading the right direction. Her clients get not only the experience of a Fortune 50 leader, but also a personalized and customized strategy as well as an implementation team: AKA your secret weapon for success.