Warehousing, Fulfillment and Customer Care

Every so often I catch myself long enough to test, or audit, the relationship between attending to the operation and its running efficiently and customer care.  Sometimes however, what we care about to the extent we’ve satisfied a client, may not be exactly what the client would agree as being in their best interest.  That said, it is important to check in on a regular basis.

No news is good news.  Yet in improving our operation, the client’s perspective should be incorporated.  This eliminates cookie-cutter solutions that perhaps can only serve the vendor.  Though order fulfillment is not the sizzle in sales, it can sizzle in service to complete a good consumer experience.   Simple changes to the pick ticket to support RMA’s, survey site information to have customer feedback, and the like can add to a better overall experience.  The order fulfillment operation is there to support these feedback solutions as well.

Making it possible for clients to handle marketing is actually what we do.  It can be said it is all marketing and there is truth to that statement.  It’s the time it takes to fulfill orders that prohibits many online merchants.  And not all shopping carts have adequate order management tools to handle warehousing and other backend features to service the order.  All this said, there have been a lot of improvements and integration for fulfillment but that does not mean certain volume can be handled internally.  Hence, it is of value to explore the possibilities available when outsourcing fulfillment functions.

Here’s a quick checklist to help the process of a decision:

  • Are there automatic e-mail notifications to customer regarding shipment?
  • Are there automatic e-mail notifications regarding inventory?
  • Are there RMA procedures in place?
  • Are there live customer service reps to help customers with unique situations?
  • Is there the staff to handle product kitting and/or assembly as well as returns?
  • Are there multiple carrier capabilities?

Over all, what fulfillment responsibilities are undertaken, it is prudent to list those features you are seeking for total customer service satisfaction.  While some sales situations eliminate repeat customers, word of mouth advertising still has huge advantages.  And ‘speaking’ of word of mouth, some e-commerce companies may want to investigate Needle—what has become effective for those who may not have the brand yet.