In the world of eCommerce, particularly for emerging bands in the health, beauty, and fashion markets, your 2018 growth plan should include methods to optimize order fulfillment. Why? It plays a key role in achieving customer satisfaction. Numerous studies continue to point out the significance of factors such as delivery times, order tracking and ease of returns for customers when choosing where to spend their dollars. Prioritizing fulfillment can help brands appeal to the evolving demands of today's shoppers, and increase the lifetime value of a customer to achieve short and long-term growth.
A recent Dropoff study revealed that 97% of shoppers view expedited delivery as at least somewhat important when deciding to make a purchase, with 40% saying it is very important. These results highlight the significance of swiftly processing and shipping a customer's order to gain their trust, as well as their future business. This latter point is not just an opinion, as DHL notes that brands who offer premium shipping grow 1.6 times faster than those who don't.
For emerging brands that expect strong growth in 2018, the ability to provide accurate and fast delivery may require partnering with an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) company. The proper 3PL will have the ability to scale as a brand grows to seamlessly accommodate significant increases in orders.
Today's shoppers also want transparency from the merchants they purchase from - and that includes order tracking. A ProShip study indicates that 97% of customers want the ability to monitor their order status throughout the shipping process. If sellers are unable to meet this expectation, they risk not appealing to an overwhelming majority of consumers. Further supporting this claim is a 2017 eCommerce Study by Dotcom Distribution. Results from the study indicated that 26.7% of responding online shoppers believe greater order visibility could influence a repeat purchase, a jump from 20.8% in 2016.
Another benefit to order tracking is that it can create an increase in traffic to a brand's website. These increased visits have the potential to translate to additional purchases, as the traffic provides an opportunity to expose these customers to more products and promotions.
There are, of course, occasions when a customer is not completely satisfied with his or her purchase for reasons other than fulfillment. This is especially true for eCommerce retailers, as they reportedly have a higher rate of return than their in-store counterparts. According to a Navar survey, almost half of participating millennial shoppers view returns as difficult, with 60% of those choosing to keep the items they don't like simply to avoid the process. Growing retailers must do their best to make returns a smooth process to maintain customer satisfaction. By ensuring a simple return process, growing brands can maintain a level of equity with these customers that may reap dividends in the future.
As eCommerce companies emerge and grow, so, too, do many problems they face. Increased order volume and sales will yield more revenue, but they also open the door to new issues that must be addressed:
Team/Space Limitations - Many emerging brands don't have the warehouse space for the added inventory necessary to fulfill orders in a timely fashion. Additionally, smaller teams will soon realize they can't keep up with the growing workload. A 3PL that can scale with your business will help solve these issues.
Technology Stack - As a business expands, its available technology needs to grow with it. Special programs to effectively manage the increases in sales must be developed and integrated into the fulfillment process.
Fluctuating Sales - Sales can spike and drop based on seasonality, a successful promotion, line expansion/introduction or other factors. A 3PL partner should have the experience and insight to help a brand and retailer plan for these variations.
These are just a few potential issues; other insights to take into account can be found in this tip sheet.
Addressing these considerations will have an impact on 2018 sales and growth. Selecting the right 3PL partner can help ensure that fulfillment does its part in creating a positive brand experience for your customers that drives customer loyalty.