When selling physical inventory online (or by mail order, for those businesses still making that work), we tend to focus on the problems that take place inside the business itself. We should absolutely be fixing those problems – but there’s another question we don’t ask ourselves enough.
“How Can I Improve my Shipping Process?”
When you ship a product, you’ve already been paid for it. But until the customer has it – and accepts it – you can’t take that money for granted. And for most of us, we don’t have control over the courier. Order fulfilment involves a lot of doing your best and hoping contractors come through.
This makes it important to look at order dispatch and shipping from the customer’s point of view. It’s the point where their satisfaction is most important.
Improving your process will usually mean making customers happier. So, another way to think of it is as improving customer experience. How do you do that?
Well, one option starts before you ship, and it has to do with choice.
Delivery Dates & Couriers.
They may now be an industry standard, but they’re still not universal. If you can give a guaranteed delivery date, that’s fantastic. If you have to give an estimate, that’s still something. (And a package that arrives ahead of the earliest estimated date often leaves the customer feeling special, which is great.)
What’s really good is if you can give these dates before the place the order. Amazon’s famous “order within 5 hrs and choose Express delivery” note is a brilliant way to combine this information with a call to action.
A breakdown of how long different shipping options will take is great – but it’s even better if you can tell your customer which courier service you use.
We’ve all heard people vent extensively about one courier service or another – but it’s never universal. For everyone who hates a given company, someone else loves them. For every card through a door saying a package has been left in a non-existent greenhouse, there’s a story of a delivery driver who went the extra mile, sometimes literally, to ensure a smooth handover.
As a business, there are two reasons to use multiple couriers. One reason is that two couriers may have better offers for different services. But another is that some customers consider a specific courier a red flag, and will abort their order if that’s the only option.
That’s one of the reasons that Cloud Commerce Pro makes it easy to integrate with multiple couriers. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to maximise your sales.
(If you use a system, like ours, that automatically selects the optimal shipping, then order notes like “Please don’t use Courier X” is the perfect time to test the manual override feature.)
Send a Shipping Notification of Your Own.
Yes, pretty much every courier service sends a shipping notice nowadays. But if you also send one, that’s two chances to get past your customer’s spam filter – which means you have two chances to set your customer’s mind at ease. Take the time to send a message of your own. Better yet – automate the sending. That way you don’t waste time and you can’t forget.
Make sure to keep it down to two, though – if a customer receives three or more, they’re more likely to be irritated, not happy.
You Offer Priority Shipping, Don’t You?
In fact, you offer multiple options for shipping, don’t you? Customers ordering from overseas understand you only having one international option, but they want the choice between express and standard shipping at home.
You’ll lose some customers if you don’t have an express option. You’ll delight thrifty customers if you can offer them a chance to save money by being patient.
(You might be able to offer other options. At least one hobby retailer will deliver orders to conventions for collection at no charge, or delay sending an order so there’s no risk of it showing up while the customer is on holiday if asked.)
Charity Begins at Home. Order Fulfilment Begins in the Warehouse.
When looking at ways to prevent customer frustration, there’s a big factor that isn’t talked about enough.
Make absolutely sure what you ship them is what they ordered. Use your order management system to create your pick list – if your warehouse is set up for barcodes and scanners, you can even have the pick list on an Android scanning device. Cloud Commerce Pro allows you to set pick lists to be generated with different priorities, to improve your team’s efficiency.
In fact, just making the process more efficient makes errors less likely. Your staff won’t be stretched to the point they forget something. Our Express Packing Station checks off each item in an order as you pack, too. That makes sure nothing slips through the cracks at the last step.
A system like Cloud Commerce Pro speeds up order processing in another simple, easy to overlook way. Your warehouse team can be alerted the moment an order comes in.