Why Order Fulfillment Matters to the Customer Experience

Today, order fulfillment is big news. From delayed holiday shipments to late Valentine’s gifts, retailers and major shipping carriers have learned that the customer experience doesn’t end with the decision to buy.

The final leg of delivering products to consumers, the last mile, can make or break an online retailer. Amazon has built its customer experience on fast, reliable shipping. The company has spent billions opening more than 50 fulfillment centers around the country.

Failing to fulfill orders can mean disaster and customers are unforgiving. 1-800-Flowers.com saw many Valentines deliveries delayed due to weather. Despite the weather, customer complaints jammed phone lines and more 1,000 twitter apologies were sent to customers whose flowers and candy never arrived.

As the competition for consumers wallet share increases, improving your fulfillment process can ensure that you don’t lose a customer after their decision to buy. Even small businesses can benefit from adding simple steps to their fulfillment process.

With delivery typically in the hands of a third-party, it is crucial to manage the both the customer facing process and shipping carrier. Using address verification when taking a customer’s order can ensure that you are getting the most accurate information. Some retailers even go as far as auto-completing or recommending zip codes based on customer input.  Verifying customer information should also be in concert with delivery address verification, essential to ensuring that addresses are in the correct format and more importantly deliverable. When problems do arise, transparency can be the difference. Immediate notification of delays with an explanation goes a long way, except when that explanation is a wrong address.