Fulfilling Your Online Store Orders - dummies

Fulfilling Your Online Store Orders

By Jan Zimmerman

Customers don’t separate your online store website from other aspects of your business. If they receive the wrong item or their package gets lost in shipping, they blame your business for a poor online shopping process, not for poor follow-up. You must ensure that the positive experience your customers have onsite carries through to completion.

In the best of all possible worlds, customers receive an e-mail confirmation when they complete their order as well as a reminder to print their order details. If your shipping process assigns a unique tracking number to the order, they can access a link directly to the carrier’s site to keep an eye on the progress of their shipment, whether you use UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or other carriers.

Sophisticated, storefront packages offer additional automated features, including the following:

  • Packing slips and shipping labels: Well-integrated systems print packing slips and shipping labels. This feature might require buying an additional module or third-party software.

  • Production tracking: Some systems track an order through production, which is particularly useful if your products involve customization or have a long fulfillment cycle. Customers receive an e-mail when the products they ordered, such as checks or monogrammed towels, enter the production queue. Complex B2B sites integrated with manufacturing systems might allow buyers to track progress on their orders.

  • Shipping confirmation: You can set up your sophisticated storefront to send another e-mail to the customer when a package has shipped. This tells buyers when to expect their order and how to reach you if there’s a problem.

    It offers another opportunity to thank customers for their order, remind them about your return policies, and link them back to your site. It’s also a window for a customer feedback survey, but keep it short!

A best practice is to charge a customer’s card only when a product has shipped. Check to see whether your software or manual transaction process can accommodate this feature.

Very large stores might arrange for third-party companies to handle their order fulfillment and shipping. Amazon, which has perfected this element of online selling, contracts its fulfillment service to many of its large merchant partners.

Selling an additional product to a satisfied customer is much less expensive than acquiring a new customer.