Ecommerce selling has become fiercely competitive, as more and more new companies jump online to compete for lucrative online shoppers in a multitude of product niches and some fear losing their identity by using a fulfillment company.
In order to keep and grow market share, online retailers such as yourself not only have to master your marketing processes, but you also have to pay attention to every area that you “touch” your prospects and customers, including the all-to-often-neglected fulfillment process. Maintaining control of the fulfillment process, while at the same time consistently positioning your brand, is even more challenging when an outsourced third party logistics provider is being used. If you find yourself using an outsourced fulfillment company, make sure that you’re considering these four critical areas so that you don’t lose your customers to your competitors.
Consider the Importance of Call Center Interactions
Many fulfillment companies also provide call center services as a bundled offering. This is a very appealing component of the process to outsource, since handling inbound calls can be extremely time consuming and cumbersome. But be careful of missing out on the intelligence gathering that can take place by fielding the calls yourself. In the very least, make sure that you’re receiving adequate reporting to know the quality of the experiences that your customers are having during their call, what types of things they’re complaining about, and any ideas that might otherwise slip through the cracks during the translation from the fulfillment company to your internal staff. In some cases, the value of the information derived from customers is far too great to outsource. But in most other cases, keeping tabs on the interactions and providing a channel for customers to get valuable information to your internal team will be sufficient.
Control Your Packaging
In some instances, simply providing the lowest cost packaging is of most importance. However, to some retailers, even the quality of the packaging can be significant. Smart companies pay attention to every aspect of their brand, and this can include the shipping cartons for orders as well as anything used in packaging and inserted into the order. This is an often neglected area where you can extend upon the brand building of your company. A well branded shipment leaves your customers with a pleasant shipping experience. And inserting further promotions within the package can provide another method of increasing future sales. Make sure speak with your provider about the options available for kitting services.
Make Returns Transparent
In years past, companies that used fulfillment providers used to insist that their provider use a non-descript return address name, such as “Fulfillment Center”, so that end customers wouldn’t know that a third party was being used. However, largely due to the many scams that have overtaken industries such as the supplements industry, packages that are being delivered with a return address including “Fulfillment Center” at some obscure address are not passing the smell test with consumers. Especially for customers that are interested in returning your product, tracking down the right company to return the product to can be tiresome – which ultimately could translate into bad word of mouth advertising. In addition to putting your company name or the specific name of the fulfillment provider on the return label, go a step beyond and include easy instructions for returning the product. It’s not great for the bottom line when consumers return product, but it’s a necessary part of business that can actually lead to future sales and referrals if done properly.
Ensure Your Post Transaction Follow Up is Top Notch
Fulfillment companies have come a long way when it comes to integration capabilities with your online shopping cart. In fact, they can even in many cases send tracking information directly to your client. But before you sign off on having your fulfillment company handle everything for you, give plenty of consideration to maintaining control over this process yourself. In the same way that they can send your customers tracking information, they can also send you the tracking information that you can simply forward to your own customers, maintaining a consistent brand and messaging. This can be facilitated through most ecommerce shopping carts. Consistency in message and source is critical in maintaining rapport with your customers.
- Why Companies Choose to Use an Order Fulfillment Service(mmaproddistr.wordpress.com)
- 6 Ecommerce Tips to Get Your Site Ready for Holiday Sales(smallbizdaily.com)
- Outsourcing Your Ecommerce Order Fulfillment(powerhomebiz.com)
- How to Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Service, Now(grasshopper.com)
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