Wow! Imagine this for your eCommerce supply chain operation. You eye last week’s stats on your operations dashboard and see that every delivery was on-time, no stock-outs, and the warehouse picked all orders correctly. On top of this, no customer had to call your contact center asking “Where’s my stuff?”. Want to get an edge? Here are 5 tips to help you improve your eCommerce supply chain operations and ensure your customers have a great delivery experience.
- 1st Tip: Optimize Your eCommerce Supply Chain To Get The Order Information Right Every Time.
- 2nd Tip: Aim For A Perfect Order Every Time.
- 3rd Tip: Work With Your Transportation Carriers To Assure They Meet Their Service Commitments Every Time.
- 4th Tip: Have A Proactive eCommerce Supply Chain Contact Center That Has The Information To Resolve Exceptions The First Time, Every Time.
- 5th Tip: Implement A Click-To-Delivery Key Performance Indicators (KPI) For Continuous Improvement Of Your eCommerce Supply Chain Operation.
1st Tip: Optimize Your eCommerce Supply Chain To Get The Order Information Right Every Time.
Goal For Customer Order Processing
In the age of eCommerce, customers enter their own orders into your order entry system. Specifically, your customer will enter their order information using your third-party shopping cart software or your in-house order management system. Of course, the hardest thing to get right is the shipping address. So the bottom line is that you need to do everything possible to help your customers create their order information correctly, every time. This includes the recipient’s address. Hence, recommend you use auto address correction software to guarantee accuracy, or you can use USPS’s website to validate delivery addresses.
“Order entry is like a game of telephone, where the customer says ‘I’d like to order a blue sweater,’ and by the time it reaches the warehouse, it becomes ‘Please send a kangaroo wearing a tutu.’ It’s amazing how things can get lost in translation!”
2nd Tip: Aim For A Perfect Order Every Time.
Goal For Order Fulfillment
“The transformation can only be accomplished by man, not by hardware (computers, gadgets, automation, new machinery). A company can not buy its way into quality.”W. Edwards Deming
It is critical that your outbound logistics warehouse and distribution centers be customer focused. In particular, the key functions are order picking and pack / ship. This is because these functions are time-sensitive and need to be flawless. For example, you promise your customer a 2-day delivery and your delivery carrier promises a 2-day delivery. So to meet your promise date, your order fulfillment center needs to get the package into the carrier’s hands the same day the order is placed. Also, do not sell products that are out of stock. And if you do, do not charge the customer as a minimum until it ships.
Additionally if your expertise is not with order fulfillment and shipping, consider a third-party logistics (3PL) company. This is because they have expertise in these types of operations, they have economies of scale, and the technology. Also whoever runs your order fulfillment center, proactive management is needed to continually evaluate labor, optimize processes, manage inventory and a lot more.
For more ideas and information on managing your order fulfillment center, see F. Curtis Barry & Company’s Supply Chain Strategies For eCommerce Businesses and BigCommerce’s Finding Success with Ecommerce Supply Chain Management.
“No one can measure the loss of business that may arise from a defective item that goes out to a customer.”W. Edwards Deming
3rd Tip: Work With Your Transportation Carriers To Assure They Meet Their Service Commitments Every Time.
Goal For Last Mile Delivery
Obviously, hold your delivery carriers accountable. Specifically for eCommerce, work in partnership with parcel carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and USPS to minimize shipping delays and errors. For example, if you are paying for a two-day service, you should be getting a high 90% on-time rate. Also, parcel carriers in some cases offer service guarantee refunds if the package is late. Ideally, this should result in a higher level of service. However, do not jump for joy when you get your guaranteed refund. This is because you have an unhappy customer who did not get their package on-time. Overall, your last-mile delivery operation should be meeting service commitment in an cost-effective manner.
4th Tip: Have A Proactive eCommerce Supply Chain Contact Center That Has The Information To Resolve Exceptions The First Time, Every Time.
Goal For Customer Service
“dissatisfied customer does not complain: he just switches.”W. Edwards Deming
Your goal should be that none of your customers have to call you about the delivery status of their package. First, do you have a plan to minimize placing your customers on hold? Second, do your first-line customer service agents have access to real-time post-purchase information? Lastly, does your customer service have the processes in place to handle delivery exceptions and returns as well as purchase order changes? For more information on improving your customer contact center, see SC Tech Insights’ article More Excellent Customer Service Results From Your eCommerce Contact Center.
“Talking to a customer service agent who knows less than you is like being the captain of a ship with a navigator who can’t read a map. You’re left wondering why you’re the one giving directions when they’re supposed to be the expert!”
5th Tip: Implement A Click-To-Delivery Key Performance Indicators (KPI) For Continuous Improvement Of Your eCommerce Supply Chain Operation.
Goal For Supply Chain Management
So to make sure that your click-to-delivery process is efficient and cost effective, it is important to implement key performance indicators (KPIs). Undeniably you need to have measurements in place to manage any operations. Otherwise how do you know what your eCommerce supply chain operation is doing right and what it is doing wrong. Specifically. KPIs can include measuring order processing time, order fulfillment time, last mile delivery time, and customer service response time. By measuring these KPIs, it is possible to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the supply chain and take steps to eliminate them. Below are some KPIs focused specifically on eCommerce delivery operations.
- On-Time Delivery KPI.
- Order (Click)-To-Delivery KPI
- Delivery Promise Accuracy KPI:
- Order Fill Rate KPI
- WISMO (Where Is My Stuff?) Calls / Returns KPIs
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”W. Edwards Deming
For a detailed discussion on these Click-To-Delivery Key Performance Indicators (KPI), see my article, The Best On-Time Delivery KPIs To Make Your Customers Delighted.
The Best On-Time Delivery KPIs. So what are the best KPIs that focus on on-time delivery? What are the KPIs that can help your eCommerce operations focus on reducing bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and shipping exceptions when it comes to on-time delivery? Click here to explore the different types of on-time delivery KPIs that you can use to improve your customers’ delivery experience.
For more ideas and information on improving your eCommerce supply chain, see Shipium’s Complete eCommerce Supply Chain Guide and Purolator’s What To Know About eCommerce Supply Chain Management.
For more articles from Supply Chain Tech Insights, see our supply chains topics section.
Greetings! As an independent supply chain tech expert with 30+ years of hands-on experience, I take great pleasure in providing actionable insights to logistics leaders. My background includes implementing 100s of innovative solutions using emerging technologies and a data-centric development approach. I have also provided business intelligence (BI) solutions for 1,000s of shippers. For more about me, click here.