For growing ecommerce companies, timeliness is next to godliness. According to the 2014 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, half of consumers have abandoned carts due to a lengthy delivery time or no delivery date provided on a retailer’s website. Customer satisfaction is so closely tied to delivery time that prompt delivery is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Twenty-seven percent of that same group of consumers said that the lateness of delivery would negatively influence their decision to shop with that retailer again.
The carrier isn’t solely responsible for delivery, however. The process starts with a logistics provider, one who is invested in the business’ mission and vision. As a company scales, the assumption is that the physical footprint of the third-party logistics provider should scale along with it.
While growth requires some element of change, there’s something to be said for working with a provider that grows with the company and whose processes are flexible enough to accommodate increased demand. Here are the traits companies need to seek out in logistics partners that will allow them to grow and scale without experiencing delivery issues that can negatively impact both perception and repeat purchase rate. This may or may not involve sticking with an established provider, but does involve finding one that fits your needs.
Without a plan in place, logistics is a messy business. While Six Sigma and other rigid processes work for some warehouses, letting process dictate so much of fulfillment has a downside. For instance, if a single sample is missing from a box in a highly regimented warehouse, the shipment doesn’t get assembled. Logic would dictate that the box should be assembled and kept waiting for that sample, but process doesn’t permit it.
Here, flexibility is key. A warehouse with the right combination of flexibility and resources can make adjustments while still having the structure in place to ship on time.
An understanding 3PL provider isn’t necessarily a sympathetic ear. Their staff simply gets your business – knows your customers, believes in your mission and is invested in your aesthetic.
Logistics is equal parts art and science because online shopping is an emotional process. Customers are invested in and eagerly anticipate the arrival of their purchase. Dotcom Distribution specializes in high-end, high-impact packaging because we understand the customer experience and know that it doesn’t end with timely fulfillment and delivery.
A growing business needs partners that have the right mindset, but also the right resources. Sounds like an impossible combination, but it is possible to find a logistics partner who is capable of handling volume and embracing the art of shipping.
A strategically-located warehouse can allow a given provider to reach a significant portion of the US population from a single location. While location matters, retailers should also seek out partners who share their customer service vision. Fulfillment of this vision happens through prompt shipment and the use of on-brand packaging.
When it comes to choosing a 3PL provider, some companies think bigger is better. Yet even a provider with a dozen warehouses can’t compare if inflexible policies and a lack of commitment to aesthetics ruins the customer experience. Seeking out the right combination takes time, but finding the right fit to begin with can ensure customer loyalty, therefore driving growth.
Maria Haggerty is the CEO of Dotcom Distribution.