Blog Posts 5 Fulfillment Strategies to Delight Your Customers
Customer experience is king. In fact, 93% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service, a HubSpot study shows.
So how do you deliver a buying experience that is sure to delight your customers? Order fulfillment plays a critical role.
How Your Fulfillment Center Can Deliver the Best Customer Experience
- Provide Real-Time Information.
Two-thirds of consumers (66%) are likely to choose a store that offers inventory visibility across channels over one that doesn’t. They want to check both in-store availability and actual inventory levels. Order tracking is also a priority.
A robust order management system (OMS) can help you deliver the information they expect. You’ll be able to view inventory across your entire enterprise – warehouses, brick-and-mortar stores, vendors, in transit and available to promise – and share detailed information with your customers.
2. Provide Responsive Service
Fulfill customer orders faster by expanding your use of automation – from wearable RF technology and robots to pick-to-light and automated label application/manifesting. Automated fulfillment and material handling solutions can help optimize order turnaround and delivery times.
Analyze your fulfillment processes to ensure that orders move as quickly as possible once they’re received into your OMS. Finetune receiving and pick-pack processes to ensure optimal efficiencies. Also, consider delaying product customization until the last possible moment, so you can be more responsive to changing customer demands.
Of course, you’ll want to add lines and staffing to accommodate order volume.
3. Offer Range of Delivery Options.
Free next-day delivery offerings are pressuring retailers to step up their game. If this level of service is unrealistic, you can still offer attractive options for reliable, fast and free or low-cost shipping.
Start by analyzing your distribution network. With two or more strategically located distribution centers, it’s possible to reach 90% of U.S. consumers via ground rather than expedited service.
Once you have the right network in place, your OMS can identify the best source to pull from for the fastest, most cost-effective service.
Of course, shipping costs are also important. Familiarize yourself with pricing considerations, review parcel analytics, and shop for the best rates.
4. Focus on Order Accuracy
No one likes to receive an order late, damaged or inaccurate. In fact, 34% of consumers say they will never shop with a company again after just one bad experience, Oracle research shows. And in today’s social-media focused society, those experiences quickly become amplified.
Quality is key. Pay careful attention to your operations and utilize proven processes to ensure accuracy and uphold service excellence. Methodologies like Lean Six Sigma can help keep quality high, control costs and improve efficiencies at every stage of the fulfillment process. Continuous improvement should be an integral part of your operations.
5. Process Returns Efficiently
Over half of U.S. shoppers (55%) said return policies have a big influence on their purchasing decisions, Incomm research shows. Fast, hassle-free returns are the gold standard and a major contributing factor to consumer lifetime value.
Strategically located DCs and a sophisticated OMS can help you process returns and get products back in stock more efficiently and cost effectively. Returns often spike, particularly at the holidays, so have flexible space and staffing ready to accommodate fluctuations. Streamline the returns process, so you can send the correct product or issue a refund promptly.
Seek Out Expert Support
If these strategies seem daunting, seek out an experienced 3PL with the requisite facilities, technology, space, staffing and quality program already in place. Outsourcing fulfillment can help you deliver an experience that keeps your customers coming back for more.