Shipping and fulfillment (S & F) is the one thing an online retailer does that will have a lasting effect on its customer. Doing it right, then your customer will be extremely satisfied. However, if things go wrong with your shipping and fulfillment, well then you’ll be losing customers…
In fact, according to EWorld Fulfilment, customer retention and the lifetime value of a customer’s business is explicitly tied to a company’s ability to deliver their products to market with speed and consistency.
Therefore, your choice of shipping and fulfillment function may have a big impact on the ultimate success of your business. And it starts at your website…
Choosing a shipping and fulfillment function
There is a number of shipping and fulfillment functions options to choose from in order to get your eCommerce business done. The best is to choose a function that will suit your business model. According to Pexel Union there are pros and cons to consider with each shipping and fulfillment function.
Doing your own S & F.
This option is popular with business owners operating from their homes. Here the products are packed and shipped from the owner’s house. Usually the packing and wrapping are done in the owner’s garage and the shipping is done over the counter at the local post office.
|Doing your own Shipping |
|1. It's cheap||1. It’s tedious|
|2. Anyone can do it||2. You need space|
|3. You're in control||3. Take you away from more important stuff|
Outsource it to someone else
Outsourcing is a valid option when your sales are getting too big for the products to be shipped and fulfilled from your home. Also, when you add the online channel to your physical business, outsourcing shipping and fulfillment may be a wise choice. Here are the pros and cons of outsourcing
|Outsourcing Shipping and Fulfillment|
|1. It frees you up to do other things||1. It can be expensive|
|2. It smooths out peaks and valleys in order volumes||2. You’re at the mercy of your service provider|
|3. You can take advantage of special discounts|
When you choose drop shipping function you’ll probably not do any shipping and fulfillment. Indeed, with drop shipping there’s no need to handle any products. According to Wikipedia, drop shipping is a supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers the customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As with the other two S & F functions, drop shipping has pros and cons:
|Drop Shipping for Shipping and Fulfillment|
|1. It eliminates the headaches of DIY shipping and fulfillment||1. It can hurt your margins|
|2. You don’t need as much capital||2. You need industry contacts|
|3. You can offer a wide variety of products||3. It can get complicated fast|
Shipping and Fulfillment software and plugins
Your eCommerce website provides a handy platform from where you can control the shipping and fulfillment process. Additionally, your customer can track the progress of her order by logging into her customer account.
eCommerce website platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce have ‘built-in’ order fulfillment and shipping functions. Moreover, you can purchase plugins or apps from most drop shipping suppliers that will allow you to indicate and follow the shipping and fulfillment of products ordered by your customers.
As the online retail market place gets congested with big and small competitors, it will be those retailers that get their customers to return that will survive and grow. After all, your customers demand getting the right product, at the right time and right place. Therefore, are you able to do the extra mile in the ‘last mile’ of delivery?
Remember, you need a well researched and written Business Plan to get your business off to a good start!
- Order Fulfillment in Omni-Channel Retail – the “Last Mile Delivery” most Retailers Fail to Complete,
- 7 Steps to Start an Online Business