The best digitally native brands excel at hooking their customers with marketing that drives traffic to a well-optimized eCommerce site. But after checkout, the rest of the customer's experience is up to your fulfillment team. Subpar fulfillment can sour the shopping experience for any store, from luxury boutique to bargain retailer. When items arrive late, unexpectedly, or in broken boxes, it damages your brand's reputation and your customer's chance of becoming a repeat buyer. On the other hand, speedy delivery and clear expectations will keep your customers coming back again and again.
Ready to level up your eCommerce game? Here are some tips to ensure that fulfillment is helping, not hurting, your online store's growth.
In the age of Amazon Prime and Walmart+, every eCommerce order is expected to ship as fast as possible. To keep standards high, you should work with your 3PL or in-house fulfillment team to set a daily cut-off point. Before the deadline, all eCommerce orders received by your store are guaranteed to ship that same day. This holds your team to a standard of operational excellence. The result is customers reliably getting packages faster, improving their shopping experience.
As shipping speeds across the eCommerce industry have improved, more and more consumers are expecting expedited options at checkout too. Make sure to configure multiple shipping rates in your store so demanding customers can pay to speed up their delivery. Even better - offer free expedited shipping as a bonus for large cart sizes. This doubles as a loyalty reward for your most committed fans while boosting average order value (AOV) across the board.
Effective communication is key to every relationship, including your business's with its customers. Here are some key stages in the purchase journey that you may want to issue each customer an email or SMS update. Why? Shoppers are happiest when they know where their order is and when its being delivered.
Email 1: Order Confirmed!
Always send an email when an order is received, so customers know their purchase was processed correctly.
Email 2: Order Shipped!
When an order ships, you should email customers again to let them know it's on the way. This note will have the carrier's tracking code so they can check in on its progress whenever they want.
Email 3 (optional): Almost There!
When an order is out for delivery, you may want to send customers another note telling them to expect a package that day. This is common for expensive or regulated items that require signing at delivery. Other brands may skip this step to avoid annoying customers with too many updates.
Email 4: Signed, Sealed, Delivered!
It's always a good idea to email customers after their order is marked as delivered by your carrier. In addition to keeping them informed, it reduces the risk of mail theft by prompting them to look for the package.
Now that your customer has received your item as quickly as possible with regular email updates, they should be all set for a happy eCommerce experience! That is, as long as the package has arrived in tact.
Not every box is going to make it through the mail in one piece. It's important to source high quality packaging and filling that protects your product and has the integrity to arrive at your customer's doorstep in good condition. Think about it - would you ever show up to the first day of a new job with dirty clothing? Well, then don't let your products either.
Many brands also source custom boxes and mailers that have their logo and visual identity on the exterior. This helps the customer to recognize your package right away. Not to mention, it makes for a more memorable unboxing experience, boosting the chance your product will end up on their 'gram!
Yet with countless boxes ending up in the trash, more consumers are lamenting the environmental impact of eCommerce. These shoppers much prefer brands that go out of their way to use eco-friendly packaging like biodegradable mailers. Another option to keep your brand green is to buy eco-credits that offset the impact of your manufacturing and fulfillment processes. That way, even the most committed environmentalists can shop from your store as much as they want.
Unboxing is the penultimate moment in your shopping experience and thus your last chance to communicate with customers before they try the product. Many digitally native brands recognize this as a key moment for brand messaging and invest in custom packaging to make it as memorable as possible.
To start, the inserts that hold your product securely in transit can create a beautiful backdrop for the product's unboxing. These flats provide a canvas to showcase brand colors and designs as well as witty copy.
For a deep dive on your brand, you can also print a custom pamphlet to welcome customers. This can be designed like a beautiful zine exploring your company's mission and story. Also, make sure to include some helpful tips on how to use your product. This ensures your customer has the best experience possible and will want to order again.
Even the packing slip can be repurposed for brand messaging. In addition to the standard order summary, why not include a special discount that drives new subscribers to your brand's SMS channel or social pages?
Some brands go a step further and give away freebies like stickers and coasters in the box. These little gifts can go a long way in keeping your brand top of mind with customers. Even better, they can prompt discussion about the product when friends see them, generating even more organic referrals!
When something goes wrong, does your support team have visibility into your fulfillment processes? The best DTC brands develop workflows that account for logistics mishaps so they can resolve their customer's concerns right away. Proper communication with your 3PL ensures your customer support crew has the information they need to provide shoppers with timely updates, like where an order is and when its shipping out. If you haven't connected your support and fulfillment teams, today's the day to start!
Similarly, if your customer doesn't like your product, what happens next? A premium eCommerce experience should ensure shipping returns back is just as effortless as checking out. This also requires seamless communication with your 3PL, as they need to mark the order as returned so you can issue a refund right away!
Altogether, these five tips will help your store to move the needle on customer satisfaction. When your shoppers are happy, they spend more and refer more of their friends, driving revenue growth and better margins for your business. If you've been neglecting fulfillment as part of your eCommerce experience, what are you waiting for? Speak to a Logistics Experts today to learn how you can make fulfillment a key part of your DTC strategy.