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From Order to Delivery: Creating a Seamless Customer Experience

As e-commerce continues to trend upwards as the way consumers prefer to shop, online vendors are faced with a different type of customer experience than the traditional retail store experience of the past. For one thing, online retailers and e-commerce customers don’t have the benefit of an in-person experience with sales staff and consultants that can make or break an in-store sale. E-commerce vendors and customers may not even meet each other until something goes wrong. Then, depending on the customer care infrastructure your business has in place for customer service calls, returns, and exchanges, keeping customers can be a slippery slope for e-commerce vendors, with so much competition online.

Creating a seamless customer experience

Creating a seamless customer experience relies on utilizing advanced inventory management and warehouse management to fulfill your orders and getting your products delivered effectively and efficiently to your customers on time and intact. The first thing you need to determine is whether or not you can handle your fulfillment operations in-house or whether you want to outsource these processes. If you know about how many orders  you expect to fulfill each day and you have the infrastructure in place to manage your orders, then you may find it makes sense to fulfill your orders in-house. However, if you’re a small to medium online business experiencing significant growth, due in part to the pandemic and in part to customer preference, then outsourcing your fulfillment operations to a qualified 3PL service provider such as Phase V can greatly enhance your customer experience with more on-time deliveries that boost customer experience and build brand loyalty.

Outsourcing streamlines your fulfillment processes

For a little over a decade now, online vendors who’ve outgrown their ability to perform their own fulfillment operations have been faced with the decision to rent or buy warehouse space or outsource their fulfillment operations. The benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment operations to the right 3PL service provider include partnering with a company that incorporates state-of-the-art fulfillment machinery, proprietary technology, and experienced pick, pack, and shipping logistics personnel that can streamline your fulfillment processes by automating them where possible. Dedicated 3PL fulfillment personnel are experienced with finding and packaging your orders to your specifications. That’s what they do. Orders are prepped for shipping faster with more accuracy than most in-house fulfillment staff, who may be juggling other business tasks with fulfilling orders. Can you really afford to take the time to buy a warehouse with the machinery, supplies, and staff to perform your fulfillment operations without derailing your expansion in the process?

Excellent customer experience is in the details

Second to on-time delivery and accuracy, the unboxing experience has gained importance as an integral part of the customer experience that keeps online shoppers returning to your site for future orders. Along with branded boxes and packaging materials, the unboxing experience should contain extras consumers enjoy, such as promotions, coupons, and other printed materials. Hand-written notes can connect you with your customer. Communication can enhance the customer experience throughout the order fulfillment process.

Communication and transparency

For a seamless customer experience, sending a “thank you for your order” email or text lets your customer know that their order is in the works. As soon as orders ship, sending a “your order just shipped email” with a tracking link also keeps your customer in the loop, while their order is in transit. Delivery notifications round out the transparency of your delivery process for your customers.

Shipping options are essential

Customers appreciate options when it comes to delivery times. Before the pandemic, the most consistent consumer demand focused on faster and faster delivery times. Then, as e-commerce was getting back up to speed, holdups in the supply chain, from unloading containers to a shortage of drivers to transport orders, delivery times shorter than two-day delivery times are still possible, but consumers have somewhat lowered their expectations.

Your 3PL shipping personnel are adept at managing shipping options and carriers. Outsourcing your fulfillment operations also gives you more options and savings when it comes to carriers. 3PLs can offer deep discounts on carrier rates, due to their order volumes. On the back end of your order fulfillment operations, your 3PL’s technology will be able to help you with managing supply and demand for your inventory. 

Demand forecasting

With your 3PL’s real-time inventory control technology, you can calculate when to reorder so you won’t run out of a popular item but won’t be stuck with too much of an item that you start to incur costs for extra fees or end up with deadstock. Deciding the frequency that certain items move during a designated period, such as a month, combined with the time it takes to receive and process reorders from your suppliers should provide you with the information to keep a lean inventory without running into stock-out situations. Your 3PL’s data analysis capabilities can also give you insights into your inventory counts for upcoming sales cycles. As an added inventory feature to ensure you won’t experience stock-outs, your 3PL’s technology allows you to set up low inventory alerts, as well as alerts to send purchase orders to your suppliers.

Customer experience and customer service

What happens when the customer orders the wrong item, the wrong color, or the wrong size and wants to exchange a product for another? The first thing you need to process returns and exchanges is an easy way for your customers to communicate with your company. Consumers appreciate speaking with a live person or at least live chat with a customer service representative when they have concerns about their orders. Additionally, your company should implement an easy return system for consumers, such as a code that is scanned at designated locations, along with a return label. The simpler the return process is for your customer, the better customer experience will reflect on your business, with better odds that you will keep your customer’s business.

Seamless customer experiences for e-commerce vendors can make or break your business. Besides on-time and accurate deliveries, seamless customer experience relies on constructing the unboxing experience and using advanced technology to ensure systems are in place to keep your supply chain flowing smoothly. The ability to forecast your inventory demands, without running short or sitting on too much inventory for too long is key to managing your inventory efficiently. For growing e-commerce vendors, outsourcing your fulfillment operations to an experienced 3PL service can make a substantial difference in your customers’ experience and allow you to avoid the growing pains and pitfalls of expanding your company.

Phase V Fulfillment Services partners with you to customize your fulfillment operations to improve your customer experience and save you money in the process. Call us today for a free quote!