Sales and Fulfillment

How to improve order fulfilment to maximize customer satisfaction

Many product teams work feverishly on various aspects of product design and development, and work on elaborate storefronts, deep catalogues, and purchase flow optimisations to wow customers. One of the key aspects that often gets overlooked is order fulfilment. This is the ‘last mile’ part of product delivery that can many times make or break customer satisfaction numbers, especially with physical products.

Here are some key ‘secrets’ of order fulfilment that seasoned product managers and business leaders focus on from day 1. Paying attention to these will ensure that customer satisfaction numbers are maximised down the road. Some of these may be surprising - for example, who would think that a backend process such as warehouse management helps with customer satisfaction? But these are the parts that make up the whole and help in delighting customers.

  1. Design your storefront with fulfilment in mind:
  2. Whether a physical storefront or digital or both, customers come looking for the latest products that match their particular needs. Offer customisation options - for sizes, colours and other criteria. Leverage digital ordering and delivery to ensure the customer walks out with the order placed. Ensure the order is placed accurately as per the customer’s exact requirements - improper order logging can ripple down the chain and lead to order cancellation, returns and unhappy customers.

    Training your personnel is an important part of order fulfilment, particularly with physical storefronts. Well-trained personnel ensure the best customer service, helping customers find what they need. Trained retail staff can also ensure the products are received, stored, tagged and displayed correctly.

    Leverage technology such as barcode scanners, multimedia and computer vision technology to provide your customers a superior and more fulfilling experience.

  3. Personalise it:
  4. Anyone who has watched ‘unboxing’ videos on YouTube knows the particular satisfaction customers get when they unwrap the product. While packaging and labelling play a huge role in this, personalisation of the product (e.g., custom packaging, engraving, personalised messages from the sender along with the product) can be a huge differentiating factor. Pay attention to personalisation right from the beginning when the customer views the product on your portal - offer views with personalised messages and engraving, and offer personalisation options during the purchase flow and beyond.

    Tracking options, while the product is in transit, can also belong to the ‘personalisation’ bucket - the purchaser or spender gets closure on the status of the product during transit and is able to determine when/how it was delivered.

  5. Quality, quality, quality:
  6. Pay particular attention to product quality from day 1. Products with superior quality ensure that rates of return are lower – e-commerce products suffer as high as 20-30%, eating away not just at profitability but also at customer satisfaction numbers. Social listening as a post-delivery activity can play a huge role in ensuring quality: watch what customers are saying as regards user experience online – with reviews, photos, or videos. Ensure product teams are getting consistent feedback on user experience so that future versions of the product address quality concerns. Social listening can also help you build communication channels with customers – ensure product concerns or feedback are acknowledged, and addressed.

  7. Optimise your warehouse:
  8. If you’re dealing with physical goods, leverage the latest technology options to optimise your warehouse. From storage to packaging, from managing inventory to ensuring product sustenance in the warehouse, adroit warehouse management is a key factor in order fulfilment success. The effects of not managing warehouses can be catastrophic: think of delayed shipments, stockouts, improper product delivery, mistakes in the returns process and many other costly errors that spell ‘unhappy customers’.

  9. Focus on order fulfilment as a strategic objective:
  10. Of all the secrets we’ve detailed, perhaps this is the most important one: make order fulfilment a key performance indicator at the corporate level. That translates to process standardisation, consistency and transparency across your supply chain and distribution channels, down to the last mile of delivery to the customer. Help your employees understand the criticality of great order fulfilment.

    Make Customer Success a distinct function. Leverage social channels to send product ‘how-to’ videos. Ensure Daily Active Users (DAUs), Monthly Active Users (MAUs) and other vital numbers are consistently tracked and bettered month-on-month. Such metrics will give you an insight into whether the product is being consistently used post-sale, and help you tackle downstream issues.

    Product teams and business leaders starting on new products or planning annual roadmaps must give due importance to order fulfilment in their strategies and tactical plans for long-term product success. Use these secrets to take your products to new heights.

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