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Outsourcing your fulfillment? Here's 5 ways to improve outcomes for your customers.

Outsourcing your fulfillment? Here's 5 ways to improve outcomes for your customers.
Max Zitney, co-Founder of Ships-A-Lot

Max Zitney is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for ecommerce and customer service. He runs a highly popular twitter account @JackTheCEO where he acts like a dog and takes pictures of his yorkie named Jack.


max@shipsalot.com

Max Zitney, co-Founder of Ships-A-Lot

Max Zitney is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for ecommerce and customer service. He runs a highly popular twitter account @JackTheCEO where he acts like a dog and takes pictures of his yorkie named Jack.


max@shipsalot.com

fulfillment, order fulfillment, Shipping, Shipping prices -

Audience


Any eCommerce proprietor which has outsourced their fulfillment. Some of these apply to in-house shipping as well.

Motivation


If you are relying on outsourcing to manage your fulfillment then I am certain that you've had the experience of seeing an order placed and watching days go by as you wonder why it hasn't shipped yet. The customer is blowing up your inbox and you eventually place an exasperated call to your customer rep only to find that some little thing went wrong and held the order up.

Working at a fulfillment center, we have gained a fairly deep perspective on these "little things" that delay fulfillment or cause your customers' packages to fail to be delivered. We wanted to take a minute to share the top 5 reasons why things sometimes go wrong for you and your customers.

1. Address Problems

This is number one both in this list and in its severity. These orders look perfectly fine at a glance. Once someone tries to buy a shipping label, we're in trouble.

If the label prints, the customer's only hope at that point is a package carrier with some serious job dedication: they are the last defense against potentially undeliverable addresses. If they can't find the intended address, it will bounce and the money spent on the shipping label will be lost. What's more important is that your reputation with the customer takes a hit.

The other outcome is that someone at the fulfillment center has simply placed the order on hold and is awaiting further instruction on how to process the order.

The best course to take is to have some sort of address validation. Zach Lukaszek has a snippet that adds this feature to Shopify checkouts and will be blogging about it later this week or early the next.

The next thing you can do is to have a conversation with your fulfillment partner about how address problems are to be handled. Who is responsible for attempting to resolve bad addresses, how will the bounced packages be handled? Are you paying for processing the bounced packages?

2. Fraud problems

Shopify includes fraud analysis in the order data that gets read by a fulfillment center's software. Fulfillment centers commonly automate reactions to this fraud analysis: this may involve putting the order on hold.

This is another conversation you'll want to have with your fulfillment partner, specifically asking the question: does your software take any action in response to Shopify's fraud score?

Our partners, Signifyd, are a good solution for protecting your from fraud overall.

3. Case contents

A fulfillment center will only broach this topic with you under the most extreme cases: How are you arranging the cases you send to your fulfillment center?

Time is money and if you're sending boxes full of totally randomized "stuff" to them, they will have to spend a lot of human labor sorting through all of the products. Our error analysis shows that every time a human being touches your product, the chance for an error in that product's order doubles.

Furthermore, if everything is neatly organized, then the product can be inventoried quickly and can be shipped to your customers immediately.

4. Correct weights

Most of the software packages for fulfillment centers will pull product data from your Shopify store as a way to lessen their onboarding workload. If you have 1,000 products; that's 1,000 products that need to be weighed in this case. Some fulfillment providers will pull your Shopify weights and simply take that as correct without consulting you first.

Be sure to enquire about how products are weighed and final package weights are determined. Packages will either bounce or receive stiff penalty fees for low-balled weights. This obviously hurts both your customers and your bottom line.

5. Barcoding

Barcodes are king, hence the brevity of this point. I cannot stress them enough. Make sure they're using them and make sure you've got them on your products. Like I mentioned above: humans are terrible at accurately repeating the same task 8 hours a day.

Get familiar with their position on barcoding. They should be willing to perform barcoding for a reasonable price and should definitely be performing scans every time your products are touched.


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