Fulfilling online orders

How to deliver online orders to meet customer expectations

Successful fulfilment of a customer's order is about meeting their expectations in terms of delivering the product in perfect condition, on time and keeping them informed of any unforeseen delays and revised delivery dates.

Effective order fulfilment for customer satisfaction

Use the following tips to help ensure that your fulfilment process provides a satisfactory conclusion to the whole purchasing cycle.

  • Process all orders at a line-item level, so that each individual item ordered is clearly identified. This is particularly important where a multi-item order is placed and one or two of these items are out of stock.
  • Personalise orders so that the customer feels that full account has been taken of their individual needs.
  • Track the status of the order so that any customer enquiry can be resolved promptly and efficiently. Formal tracking of progress ensures that any problems arising out of non-delivery of the order are quickly identified and remedied.
  • Communicate the order status to the customer to ensure that they are kept fully informed of progress. Many carriers now use email to notify a customer that an order has been dispatched. Others have implemented online tracking systems enabling the customer to log on to their website and check progress.
  • Turn the order around quickly, preferably within 24 hours. The customer will be keen to have their order delivered as soon as possible, so any delay in actually dispatching it will have a negative impact.
  • Consider your packaging not only in terms of ensuring safe delivery, but also in relation to branding on the outside and what you can put inside the package that might increase the likelihood of additional sales, eg brochures and special offers.
  • Be practical about delivery and ensure that you set realistic customer expectations in terms of the likely delivery date.
  • Manage the differing scales of business by ensuring that you have sufficient resources to handle the peaks and troughs of demand.
  • Choose the right carrier if you decide to outsource your distribution activity, especially if your product requires special handling. Negotiate guaranteed delivery times with the carrier you have chosen or set service level agreements that they must meet.
  • Handle returns efficiently and effectively, and ensure that any customer dissatisfaction is quickly and professionally resolved.