Marketers spend a lot of money on fulfillment. They need to make sure the right products are sent to the right people at the right price. They need to make sure that up-sells and cross-sells are correct.
If you ship the wrong product, it’s going to cost you in the form of customer service calls, returns, return postage, lost business, chargebacks—you name it. People don’t like mistakes and in business, when mistakes happen, people can tend to be brutal.
The psychological profile of the customer has changed over the last 20 years. Whereas yesterday’s customers tended to be more compassionate and understanding, today’s consumers have come to expect flawless service thanks to the evolution of technology and near-perfect service provided by industry juggernauts. With this in mind, it makes sense that recent research indicates that 86 percent of customers stop doing business with a company following a bad experience.
When mistakes happen, it’s no longer as easy to rectify them. Customers won’t simply return the wrong product and patiently wait for a replacement. In fact, according to Bain & Company, a customer is four times more likely to change his or her brand allegiance following a service-related mishap, compared to something that is price- or product-related. In today’s age of instant gratification, customers who endure bad experiences flock to the Internet, search for competitors and order a substitute product, demanding their money back from the initial order immediately.
Obviously, that’s not ideal for marketers. But thanks to the rise of best-in-breed order management solutions, fulfillment can be dramatically improved. By employing such systems, product marketers no longer have to check various components on every order to make sure that the correct items get sent to the correct customers. One facet that guarantees fulfillment accuracy is the setup process, which ensures that orders don’t come in blind. Products, offers, pricing and packaging, among other things, are all configured during the setup of the order management platform. The product is associated with a SKU number and a price, which ensures that when a customer selects that item number, the correct product is correctly bundled and shipped in the proper packaging.
Additionally, when an order is recorded in the system, the customer’s information—the person’s name, ship-to address, bill-to address and methods of payment—is immediately inputted as well. These processes get vetted during the order building phase. After a good order management system has all of that information compiled in a single location and properly vets it, that data gets sent securely to a fulfillment center, whether that’s an internal warehouse or a third-party vendor. That file is exact and coordinated with SKU numbers that are synced with warehouses in order to help pickers identify specific items and send the right packages.
In business, when errors are made, they can tend to be big. If Sally is waiting on her prom dress, for example, you don’t want her to end up with a pair of jeans instead. Such a situation could spell disaster for your business if news of the mishap spreads. Yesterday, the average dissatisfied customer would tell between 9 and 15 people when they were dissatisfied. Today, via social networking, they can tell thousands of people in a matter of minutes.
Of course, there is no solution that can guarantee a completely flawless operation—such is life. But by employing best-in-breed order management solutions, marketers equip themselves with the tools necessary to approach as close to a level of flawlessness as is possible.