For most of you, shipping and fulfilment probably isn’t the reason you wanted to start your own online store. In fact, packaging and posting your orders can be one of the most stressful and difficult aspects of running an online store. Repetitive and often finickity actions over a long period of time sounds like a good environment to lose one’s mind in, but regardless it’s one of the most vital roles you play in providing a memorable experience to your customer.
Here’s some tips you can use to keep your heart ticking and brain pumping whilst you fulfil all those orders your brilliant marketing strategy has reeled in.
1) Set a daily routine
Fulfillment is typically time consuming, but with a dedicated space in the day for getting those orders out into the world you’ll develop great working processes and spot any underlying issues with ease.
2) Bring in help when you can
As a business owner, your business needs your full attention. Invest your time and brainpower to streamline processes, create marketing strategies, develop products and more. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to juggle these responsibilities whilst you’re boxing up 100 products. Bring in extra employees or outsource your fulfilment and shipping as soon as you can.
If you do decide to outsource, remember that a dedicated fulfilment warehouse can process orders far faster and more efficiently than you could ever dream of.
3) Get Expert advice on exporting
International markets provide a whole new world of opportunities to expand your business, but the complexity around international shipping deters many small business owners from taking their slice of the pie. Seek expert advice on exporting, as it can be a real minefield, especially as no one can predict what’s going to happen as the UK leaves the EU. Shipping to Europe may be about to get a lot more costly.
4) Find the right carrier
You want to allocate the right shipping carrier to the right product. Inquire with multiple carriers on a multitude of products. The best option for letters may not be the best for large packages. You don’t have to limit yourself to using one carrier for everything.
5) Follow instructions
If you’re using a fulfillment service or shipping warehouse, make sure you follow their instructions to the T. Sending them your product in a manner that they are expecting not only promotes a good working relationship and speeds the entire process up, you may be billed an extra fee for improperly delivered items.
6) Give your customers a choice
There’s one thing that every potential customer has in common… they’re all very different. Whilst some customers may be completely find with cheap, three-day shipping, many will want their products on the very next day, and some will want shipping to be free. Allow your fulfilment to be flexible and avoid turning any customers away.
7) Manage expectations
One of the worst things you can do is tell a customer their product will be with them in three days if it’s actually going to be with them in 7. Be transparent and honest about shipping times, and then try to beat them. Receiving an order a day before you expected is always better than a day late.
8) Free upgrades!
Going above and beyond is what brings customers back, it’s what drives customer recommendations and word of mouth. Nothing says customer service like upgrading customers to priority shipping for free. This is a great practice when sending via priority mail is only slightly more expensive. Sometimes, it can even be cheaper!