Digital Commerce
Partner Spotlight

Top 4 fulfillment pitfalls e-commerce brands face and how to avoid them

Fulfillment processes play a critical part in the overall customer experience.

7 Minutes, 49 Seconds

Anyone in the e-commerce business knows that order fulfillment can be a daunting task. After all, it involves all the processes that a placed order goes through before it arrives on your customers’ doorsteps. Plus, it’s a huge factor that affects the overall customer experience.

Receiving, packing, shipping, and delivery—these all make up the e-commerce fulfillment process. And because there are so many steps, there are sure to be roadblocks along the way. 

How important is fulfillment for an e-commerce store’s success?

According to an article from Forbes, fulfillment is at the ‘epicenter’ of e-commerce enablement. And with e-commerce sales in the U.S alone projected to reach $1 trillion this 2022, a business without a good fulfillment system will not get a slice of this pie.

If fulfillment fails, your business fails. It’s such a crucial part of the entire customer experience so it’s a must to invest time and resources into ensuring that your fulfillment process is seamless.

Without a high-quality e-commerce fulfillment process, you risk losing your customers. In fact, this study shows that 69% of shoppers will shop somewhere else in the future if their order was not delivered within two days of the promised date.  

The best thing to do is to know how to avoid these pitfalls so your e-commerce fulfillment process has room for success. Here’s a list of the top 5 fulfillment pitfalls that e-commerce brands usually face—and how you can potentially avoid, or solve them if needed. 

Fulfillment pitfall #1: Free shipping expectations or misalignment with shipping fees

Did you know 75% of today’s customers actually expect free shipping for online purchases? 

We have huge e-commerce conglomerates like Amazon and Walmart to thank for this mindset. Of course, they can afford it. 

But small and medium-sized e-commerce brands that are just starting out can’t afford to offer free shipping to everyone. 

So what happens when potential customers expect free shipping and find out that they have to pay? There can be two scenarios:

  1. The shopper goes all the way to the checkout process and sees the shipping costs. This turns them off and they decide not to push through with the order.

  2. The shopper goes all the way to checkout and payment without noticing the shipping costs. They notice the shipping costs on the digital receipt, and they decide to cancel the order.

In both scenarios, the lack of free shipping is acting as an obstacle for e-commerce brands to complete the fulfillment process. So how should this be handled? 

Here are some possible solutions:

  • Consider increasing your product’s prices just enough to cover free shipping. A lot of people will not notice a minor price increase, but they will definitely notice a separate shipping cost. This interesting article from the Wharton School of Business notes that free shipping that will save a customer only $6.99 looks more attractive than a discounted product by $10.

  • Offer free shipping for different criteria and situations. You may also want to offer free shipping for orders that reach a minimum order value, or for orders that have three or more items. You may also want to offer free shipping during peak seasons like BFCM, or special occasions like your store’s anniversary.

  • Be very transparent with shipping costs. Customers get turned off when they see shipping costs that they didn’t expect. Combat any surprises by being upfront about costs right away. Try adding a SC Shipping Rates Calculator + to your cart page. Allowing customers to see the exact rates right away will help minimize abandoned carts and canceled orders. Additionally, this calculator also shows rates and delivery estimates per location, further reducing misalignment.

Fulfillment Pitfall #2: Order backlogs and mismanagement of inventory logistics

When Baloo Living received media attention, the store experienced a huge spike in sales, leaving the owner scrambling to fulfill all orders.

baloo living

Aside from media attention, other causes of inventory problems include unreliable suppliers or delivery delays. The truth is, it’s normal for e-commerce stores to experience inventory problems.

Of course, you want to sell. But when you sell more products than anticipated, that can actually be a problem. This can create problems like out-of-stock products or low inventory levels—forcing your excited customers to wait. 

While new stocks will be available eventually, this waiting period can cost you the sale. Most customers would not be willing to wait. Aside from the possibility of canceling their order, this may lead them to have a bad customer experience. 

What should you do?

  • Proper inventory management. Study your backorder patterns. Look at the past purchasing patterns of certain products so you can predict future trends. It’s important to manage inventory so that you don’t run low but you’re not overstocked either.
  • Communicate. Customer experience is still at the heart of your success. Just be honest and open with your customers on what’s causing the day and when they can expect the item. Some brands also offer a discount if the customer would be willing to wait.
  • Streamline your fulfillment processes. Consider adding Order Tags & Flows to your Shopify store to help you save time and organize your orders. Order Tags & Flows offers efficiency at its finest with its numerous automation possibilities. Basically, you’ll be able to know what to do with each and every item in just one app. Order Tags & Flows also helps you determine which orders have out-of-stock products so you can zero in on those customers.

Fulfillment pitfall #3: Delivering poor customer service

The probability of selling to an existing customer is higher than acquiring a new one. It’s also more cost-efficient to focus on retention strategies. However, companies could actually be losing around $62 billion annually because of poor customer service. 

Here are more illustrations of how poor customer service can be your pitfall:

  • 78% of shoppers will switch to another brand after multiple bad experiences
  • 61% of consumers will not think twice about switching to a competitor after just one bad experience with customer service

Today, a lot of e-commerce stores target the same audience groups—and it’s customer service that will set you apart. That’s because online shoppers want answers, and they want them yesterday.

It can be challenging to provide the same customer experience that shoppers would get in a physical store, but you can still be pretty close. Try out these best practices:

  • If your brand does not have your own team to handle live support requests, at least provide an easy way for customers to submit their questions right away. Then make sure that they get responses as soon as the next business day.
  • Add chatbots to your store to answer basic questions. Also, make your FAQ section as robust and detailed as possible.

If you’re getting way more support tickets or inquiries than you or your team can handle, you may want to consider outsourcing your customer support entirely. This will allow you to focus on your business growth without having to worry about the avalanche of support requests every day. 

Additionally, 75% of customers prefer human interactions compared to automation. In fact, 56% of consumers said that the most frustrating part of customer service experience is the automated telephone systems that make it difficult to reach a live agent.

With a dedicated support team operating 24/7 in place, you also won’t have to worry about manpower and training. Instead, you can catch up with the team every now and then for reports, recommendations, and alignment.

Fulfillment Pitfall #4: Inability to provide a personalized approach to customers along different stages

At this point, most e-commerce businesses and digital marketers already know that personalization is key to success

After all, the numbers speak for themselves:

However, there can be too much of something. At some point, customers can be annoyed by the overwhelming amount of targeted ads they come across.

That being said, personalization is now more than just a battle of targeted ads. It’s more about forming 1:1 relationships with your customers—no matter which stage of the funnel they’re at.

Here are some ways to start:

  • Segment your customers into smaller groups based on different criteria: behavior, preferences, past orders, cart abandoners, etc. Honestly, the sky's the limit. But the more specific your sub-groups are, the more tailored your approach will be.

  • Take a different approach to your high-converting customer subgroups. Offer them value, not just a generic email blast.

  • Identify your first-time customers so you can create personalized nurture flow to transition them into returning and loyal customers. The Order Tags & Flows app has the ability to easily sort and identify new customers so it’s easy to send automated yet personalized thank you emails. 

Wrap up: Upgrade your fulfillment process for a seamless customer experience

As your business continues to grow, it’s all the more important to ensure that each stage of the customer journey flows smoothly. 

While personalization is key, there are tools that can help e-commerce brands get in-depth customer data to be able to execute faster transactions, hyper-personalized campaigns, and seamless fulfillment processes. 

Couple this with world-class customer support and you’re on your way to surefire success. In the end, what will set you apart from your competitors is the way that you deliver an amazing customer experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out to LTVplus if you have any questions about this.

In the meantime, don’t forget to equip your Shopify store with the latest tools that will only help to elevate your store’s overall growth in more areas than one. 

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