When it comes to customer experience, each step in the customer journey matters, and that includes order fulfillment. The way your customers perceive your business depends on their experience with you — from the time they become aware of the brand and consider purchasing to the moment the product is in their hands. So how will you get your products to consumers in a way that meets (and exceeds!) their expectations?
There are many times in a business when examining and updating your fulfillment strategy is key to continued success. Whether your business is scaling fast or beginning to stall, fulfillment can be an essential area to optimize.
Why is fulfillment so important, and what impact can it have on the customer experience? Keep reading to learn more about the strategy that can supercharge this critical aspect of the customer journey.
What is Your Fulfillment Strategy?
What’s best for your customers should ultimately drive your fulfillment strategy. Whether enabling same-day delivery or organizing product pick-up, you want to get your products in your customers’ hands in a seamless, satisfactory way.
When growing and scaling orders is thrown into the mix, ensuring a great customer experience in order fulfillment becomes a more significant challenge. At this point, leaders will examine whether it makes sense to continue fulfillment in-house or to outsource it to a trusted partner.
Not only do you want to offer the right range of fulfillment options, but you also need to do so profitably. What’s the right solution for your business? Check out these fulfillment strategies to uncover what might be best for your team:
1. Do-It-Yourself Fulfillment
At the beginning of a business, it’s not uncommon for fulfillment to be completed in-house (or in the garage!). To keep track of all the orders, business owners DIY-ing fulfillment will likely need to use CRM software. This tracking system helps process orders, store shipping information, manage transaction documents, track inventory, create reports, and more.
As your business scales and the orders — and, therefore, required space! — increase, the DIY approach becomes more difficult. A careful balance is required to ensure that time and energy resources are managed between moving the business forward and simply getting tasks done.
Inside an in-house order fulfillment operation, creating a fantastic customer experience requires careful preparation, packaging, and more.
2. Outsourced Fulfillment
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from outsourcing fulfillment. 3PLs offer warehousing, packaging, assembly, and distribution to ease the weight of a heavy in-house to-do list. With this fulfillment strategy, business teams can focus on what they do best when they utilize an outsourced fulfillment partner's efficient, cost-effective resources.
Even though 3PLs are technically considered outsourcing, they can still be a vital partner. Opportunities for integration exist, ranging from e-commerce systems and inventory management to return processes and more. The big plus: Businesses don’t have to invest vital resources and capital in their own warehouses, CRM tech, and fulfillment team members. There are no worries about reaching OSHA requirements in warehouse space, maintaining appropriate security, and choosing the right technology.
Why Does Fulfillment Matter to Customer Experience?
When you think about customer experience, your mind might jump to someone’s experience on your website or satisfaction with returns. However, fulfillment and on-time delivery of your product to the customer is a massive part of their experience with your product. Here’s why order fulfillment has an impact on your overall customer experience.
1. Delivery Expectations
Part of creating a relationship of trust between a brand and customer is delivering a product when you say you will deliver it. What may be just another product to you could be a highly-anticipated, highly-important solution to the buyer.
Fulfillment is a significant aspect of meeting delivery expectations and improving the customer experience from the moment someone makes a purchase. Fine-tuning your fulfillment strategy and ensuring that you’re optimized for audience demand means being able to track inventory, prevent delays, and get your product in customers’ hands, right on time.
2. Data-Driven Decisions
With a solid fulfillment strategy, you’ll likely gain access to data that can transform the way you make decisions. Better decisions on your part mean a better experience for your customers. You can find problems before they grow too large by utilizing the right information, and even discover ways to improve.
Getting data from your fulfillment channel can be accomplished whether you’re completing orders in-house or with a 3PL. All you need is the right technology in place. Imagine being able to discover what step in the process is slowing delivery time and making changes to speed things up, or where the hiccups commonly occur so you can get out ahead of things. Think about discovering a cost saving that you can pass to the customer. The right fulfillment strategy can make a difference with data and your customer experience.
3. Competitive Edge
If you are stuck spending your time physically packing products, dealing with constant hang-ups, and checking tracking details to get orders delivered on time, you’re likely not working on things that could improve your competitive edge. Fulfillment can take over your to-do list, so the rest falls behind. Instead of thinking about positive changes you could make to improve customer experience, you’re trapped in the warehouse trying to figure out the latest obstacle.
With an optimized fulfillment strategy, you can spend time doing what you do best and push your success past the competition.
How Smart Warehousing Improves Your Customer Experience
At Smart Warehousing, you’ll find industry-leading order fulfillment for an extraordinary customer experience. Here you’ll find more than your standard 3PL. We have the expertise, technology, and nationwide warehousing network to deliver your orders better than ever.
From pick and pack to shipping and returns, we’ve got you covered. We consider ourselves more than just a fulfillment solution. Smart Warehousing is a brand partner. As our partner, you’ll get custom packaging and labeling too, so your customer experience is holistic when your package arrives at a customer’s door.
Want fulfillment data on demand? You’ll love our SWIMS inventory management system. With real-time visibility, alerts, and all the reports you could need, you’ll benefit from an out-of-this-world CRM without paying the expense.
Ready to uplevel your customer experience with Smart Warehousing? Learn more about how we do things the smart way.