Levelling Up From SMB to Midmarket Ecommerce
By Vanessa Loughty
If ecommerce fulfillment systems are slow, outdated, and inefficient, your customers might convert somewhere else—find out how to turn “the last mile” into more sales.
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For an economy driven by customer satisfaction, the efficiency of the ecommerce fulfillment process can be an important way for merchants to set their businesses apart. A fast, efficient, and customer-centric fulfillment system not only creates a positive impression of a brand, it can also be a powerful driver of conversions and growth. In this blog, we’ll look at the connection between strong fulfillment and conversions, with tips for how to leverage excellent delivery into more sales.
Successful ecommerce fulfillment is about more than just delivering a product to a customer. It encompasses the entire process from the moment an order is placed to the time it reaches the customer's hands. This includes accurate inventory management, efficient order processing, timely shipping, and effective communication with the customer throughout the whole journey—especially in the case of delays. Good fulfillment experiences leave customers feeling satisfied and well-taken care of by the business, leading to repeat purchases, more trust, and positive word-of-mouth.
There are several models merchants can adopt for their ecommerce fulfillment. Systems vary from total hands-on management, to automated and premium fulfillment services by third parties. Merchants must balance control, costs, and human resource requirements when selecting a fulfillment method.
Every step of the fulfillment process plays a crucial role in building and maintaining successful customer relationships. Smooth fulfillment can turn a one-time buyer into a loyal customer, while any hiccups along the way might deter them from returning. Developing a reputation for excellent service in the following three categories can inspire trust before the transaction, helping get the conversion over the finish line:
1. Offer multiple shipping options.
The more shipping options you offer shoppers, the more a customer can configure their shipping experience to meet their exact needs. Give your buyers more control over their own fulfillment by offering a choice of shipping carrier, price, and speed.
2. Implement real-time inventory management.
Your internal teams and your customers share a need for up-to-the moment product availability, product location, and shipment tracking data. Great fulfillment begins by setting and managing expectations. Is a product available to ship immediately? How long will order processing take? Have any delays occurred in transit? Offering this information before a customer asks for it helps to drive ordering, resolve issues, and present more messaging opportunities. Learn more about advanced inventory management here.
3. Make fast and reliable fulfillment a signature offer of your brand.
Bringing your excellent fulfillment practices to the foreground of brand messaging is a huge selling point and should not be left for the end of the transaction. Marketing and site content which emphasize positive aspects of fulfillment helps customers feel confident about orders and issue resolution and should feature prominently throughout the website. Features to crow about include expedited offers, satisfaction guarantees, and the overall convenience of buying items via ecommerce.
4. Be proactive with ecommerce fulfillment support.
Ensure customers have easy access to support in case of any issues or queries related to their orders. Be proactive by reaching out before questions arise, with order status updates, links to package tracking, and satisfaction follow-ups.
5. Opt for scalable solutions.
As your business grows, your fulfillment needs will change. Opt for ecommerce fulfillment solutions that can scale with your growth, whether it's in-house expansion or partnering with a larger 3PL.
Inefficient ecommerce fulfillment can have major consequences for merchants. Slow shipping times, inaccurate orders, and lack of communication can lead to negative reviews, reduced customer loyalty, and ultimately, lost sales. While product quality and marketing are essential, the fulfillment process is also a core part of successful ecommerce and should not be sidelined when developing new business growth strategies. By prioritizing efficient fulfillment in an overall ecommerce strategy, merchants can build customer satisfaction, drive conversions, and keep successful orders flowing from warehouse to doorstep.
Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.