Every transaction on your website sends a little shiver down your spine, doesn’t it?
That’s the best part about having a successful online business. Once you’ve built it and they come, all bets are off. The possibilities are literally endless. Even with so much hope invested in your company, it pays to also ground it in reality.
If you can only laser focus on one area to start with, let it be your fulfillment and fulfillment services. After all, your customers will judge you more harshly if their products don’t arrive on time than if your site isn’t absolutely perfect.
Fulfilling Customer Orders with Style
The best fulfillment process is one that runs almost seamlessly and gives your customer as much information as possible without forcing them to jump through a lot of hoops. That might sound complicated, but it really isn’t. For example, instead of forcing customers to go through a complicated registration process to complete an order, give them an option to check out as a guest. Piece of cake, right?
You can’t just stop there, though. These are just a few order fulfillment must-haves for your online business to be at its best:
Free shipping options. According to UPS’s 2014 report “Pulse of the Online Shopper,” shoppers want free shipping options. In fact, 45 percent of the customers surveyed said they’d abandoned their carts when they discovered they couldn’t qualify for free shipping.
Interestingly enough, 52 percent said they had actually bought extra items just to qualify for free shipping. So, either way you look at it, free shipping is vital. You don’t have to offer it on everything, but offer it on something — a purchase threshold is a common way to provide free shipping without cutting deep into your profit margin.
Automated inventory reporting. Back orders are a big problem for customers from every walk of life. If they’ve come to your site to shop, the chances are good that they want to buy something right now. Instead of manually changing the status of items from in stock to back-ordered, implement an automated inventory system. Bar code scanning can ensure that each product in your warehouse is counted in real time and customers have an accurate accounting of each item in inventory as they browse.
Shipment tracking made simple. Letting your customers know just where their order is in the process and when it ships is a fairly simple thing today. Having 24/7 real-time access to accurate shipping information via a customer web portal can create generate lots of positive feelings from visitors who will become loyal customers.
No hassle returns. In the UPS study, 58 percent of customers listed a no hassle return policy as an element of the best returns experiences. It might seem like a small part of the process, but for customers reverse logistics can be the most harrowing – and the most memorable. When you make returns easy, customers buy again because they know the process will be painless if their new outfit is the wrong size or color.
Getting the processes behind your online business just right will take a little effort and time, but your order fulfillment should be one of the first areas you deal with. After all, if you can’t get the orders out, what’s the point in having them in the first place?