Sales & Customer Service mentor Lillian Vernon responds:
Fulfillment is the nuts and bolts of any mail-order or online business. It is imperative that you have enough space, the latest computer technology, and the right blend of people to have a well-oiled operation. A company can have the best marketing strategy, great products, good prices, even free shipping, but if the product arrives at the customer's home late or with a problem, you've lost that customer.
I would advise young companies, particularly the small dot.com companies, to pay close attention to their service levels. If they don't have the capital or expertise to do their own fulfillment, they should outsource their fulfillment to a large company with proven warehousing capabilities. I would also advise young companies to hire personable and committed customer service representatives who understand the philosophy of mail order, know the products and the brand they are trying to sell, and are sincere and friendly to customers.