The 3 C’s for Effective Order Fulfillment

Sep 05, 2012 4:32 AM  By

Every retailer dreams of an order fulfillment process that offers flawless accuracy, speedy delivery, and efficient profit margins. For some, that means outsourcing their retail operations to a trusted fulfillment vendor.

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But how can you be sure that the fulfillment partner, who may be far away, will stay true to what your company stands for? If your fulfillment is in-house, are you ensuring that the package your customers receive in their hands is exactly what you promised them online?

Whether you use outsourced fulfillment or choose to run your fulfillment yourself, keep these three C’s in mind to deliver on the ultimate customer experience.

Communication
When you work with an outsourced partner, communication is key. That means letting your fulfillment provider know about changes in policy and inventory, special sales and promotions, new business initiatives and loyalty programs, anything that will impact the customer’s experience and the fulfillment process.

Even if you don’t outsource, it’s still critical for all departments of your organization to be talking regularly to make sure everyone’s on the same page. That means if you have designed new packaging, then marketing should inform the pick and pack staff.

If you want to strike an item off inventory, then the merchandizing team needs to collaborate with your inventory management folks. Communication is key to running things smoothly.

Contact
The contact center is an area where customers get up-close and personal with your brand. That’s why it’s important that the people answering your phones and emails talk your talk – including knowing your product nicknames, sales lingo, and the overall personality of your company.

Whether it is phone, email or chat, customers’ problems need to be quickly addressed and, when necessary, escalated to the correct person or department. This can only happen with rigorous training and an understanding of your brand. Interactions should be fast, easy, personalized and polite.

Consistency
Once you have communicated the dos and don’ts, your sales language and business image, you need to ensure consistency through the right branding tactics. From your packaging materials to the welcome message a customer hears when they call your contact center, each area needs to reflect your company’s name and ideals.

You need to give your operations staff the right tools so that branding is uniform across all channels and processes; from custom packaging, to returns, to how communications with customers are handled.

After all, the most efficient retail operations make the entire experience feel seamless for their customers.

Kim Brandt (kbrandt@infifthgear.com) is the marketing manager for outsourced order fulfillment provider Fifth Gear.