You place an order for that special, one of a kind, last item in stock, most important gift for your loved one. There is one more site that has one left in stock, but you take your chances with this website. The order needs to be delivered quickly to make it in time for the special day, but after checking the order tracking a couple of days later, you see that the company’s fulfillment provider has yet to ship your item. Disaster is about to strike for this customer, and as a result, the small business responsible for this order is going to pay a serious price.
As a small business owner, you have probably been on the end of many calls from customers just like this one. “Seriously guys? Your website is the only website I have troubles with. I want a refund.” Despite the fact that it was a fulfillment company that shipped the goods for you, the customer will blame you, the company they ordered from. They don’t care that you outsource your fulfillment, and because you chose an inexperienced fulfillment company, ultimately you lost a client and perhaps many of their referrals.
When an item ships is a key component in searching for the right warehouse to fulfill your orders. Most companies offer same day shipping with a cut-off at some point in the afternoon. What this means is that they guarantee that they will ship the product the same day that they receive the order up until a certain cut off time during the day. However, same day shipping doesn’t guarantee success. It’s also very important to understand what actually separates a good fulfillment company from a mediocre one. In order to best understand everything involved, you should ask the following questions:
- What is your cut-off time for orders placed in order to get same day shipping?
If the cut off time for placing orders is 1 pm then it is important to know if that depends on certain time zones or locations. If you miss the 1 pm deadline, the order may be shipped the next day. In this case the one day of shipping time is lost.
- How do you handle a larger supply of orders at Christmas time and Holidays? Do they all go out same day if received by the cut-off?
If you have larger orders being placed during holidays it’s important to find out if they add extra staff in order to ship the items out quickly.
- Will I pay more for same day shipping?
Some companies will charge more to ship the same day. Do you want to offer a free shipping option? Are you going to eat the shipping costs yourselves? Maybe 2 day shipping will be more cost effective. Don’t make promises you can’t keep!
- Do you have multiple locations in order to ship items at a faster rate?
Maybe you have a product that is widely popular in Canada. Will you be able to offer the same shipping rates and delivered in the same timely manner as items that are shipping within the US?
- What happens if you make a mistake and the order does not ship out to the customer in time?
Will the fulfillment company pay for the shipping mistakes they make?
- What happens when part of the order isn’t in stock?
Will the fulfillment company short ship the order or wait until the entire order is available? If they wait for all items before shipping, is there a message sent to the customer to let them know?
- Does the company ship on the weekends?
What happens when an order is placed on a Friday? Will the company send out an email letting the client know they might not get updates until the next business day Do they still ship same day or is it shipped the next business day?
Customers don’t really care about the logistics of shipping their purchased goods as long as the order is accurate and the delivery is timely. As a small business it is important to find a fulfillment company that has built in systems, processes and qualified people to help ensure accuracy throughout the logistics function. Offering same day shipping is a wonderful incentive to the customer, especially around peak seasons. But the promise of same day shipping is only a small part of the equation. The key is to find a great fulfillment company that can work with you to achieve the goals of same day shipping while also offering superior service to your customers. Fulfillment companies are an important part of your company and an extension that can prove to add to your bottom line or cause you to spend an enormous time of energy and profits on mad customers.