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Why Fulfilment is Key to eCommerce

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I made a recent purchase from a large online retailer and it was one of the most frustrating purchases I've ever made. With a small online shop I might have excused it, but when ordering products online from a large company, there really is no excuse for poor processes in both service and fulfilment.

As a brief rant and hopefully a helpful comparison, here's a brief overview of some of the mistakes that were made, and ways in which you can ensure your eCommerce business can avoid them.

Dispatch Time

When ordering online, you expect the item to be shipped within 24hours at the very slowest. To achieve this you need to ensure payment is taken at the time of purchase so it can be validated while the customer is still present. In my case I had to wait almost 2 days for payment to be approved (by PayPal 'instant' transfer) which makes a bit of a joke of the Express Delivery I'd chosen.

Even once 'validated' (there was a special status for this, so it's not a one off!) the process to box and dispatch the order took another day. Our order fulfilment house ships all orders before 3pm the same day, and many more after that.

Inventory

A little nervous that my order might never get 'validated' I read a few reviews and it seems that even when an item is marked as 'In Stock' on their website, quite often they would have to cancel an order due to lack of stock. In today's digital era, I fail to understand how this it is possible for this to happen so often, though I see it all the time at many stores (even Argos get it wrong). Incorrect data in your inventory levels not only costs a sale, but is also likely to put off any would be customers from ordering again. We've worked hard to ensure that the stock levels we store on our fulfilment system, accurately match the levels physically stored in our fulfilment centre and that these values are available in real time to our clients.

Order Tracking

So imagine my jubilation when I finally see the order as 'dispatched, please click on the tracking number to see your order's status' except of course there is no tracking number. Well there is, its just that this company's website has a big delay on it and only show some of the data now, the rest comes later. A quick email to customer services (no response) and some time later the parcel tracking appears, though it doesn't say a couriers name I recognise to be able to track it. Another email to customer services... Finally the complete information arrives in a dispatch email, the morning after (yes, 12 hours later).

The moral is that if you give information to customers as soon as you know it, you'll generally find that the number of customer support enquiries goes down drastically. Having the confidence that your order is being taken care of promptly, means that there's no need to phone or email - after all the customer has as much information as the seller.

I doubt any company is as bad as the example, but if you think that you could benefit from using a service that gives your customers an excellent fulfilment service and lets them know things in real time then why not contact us?

December 15th, 2011 by Hannah Newman

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