In the early days of ecommerce it was more likely that you would have direct interaction with an online business. Before the advent of shopping carts and online credit card transactions you might have been advised to call the online business phone number and place your order over the phone. Packages may have arrived with a hand written mailer and a note of thanks enclosed. As a customer you might have even been saddled with the task of sending a check and then waiting for the product to arrive once payment cleared the bank.
As ecommerce business has expanded, so too have the methods of payment. With the payment issues moving toward an automated accounting system we have seen the fulfillment of orders move toward a more automated function as well.
This is the typical order of product fulfillment with major online companies today.
1) Product ordered through online store using standard shopping cart.
2) Autoresponder used to confirm order placement and payment information.
3) Order added to a fulfillment database.
4) Autoresponder used to alert customer to the successful shipping of the product.
5) Tracking information provided to allow customer to follow the delivery of their product.
There may still be room for human error, however this type of product fulfillment takes into account the needs of the consumer, the advantages of current technology and a more efficient means of follow through with customers.
Defining your shipping policy in your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section may be a very positive way to help customers know what to expect from your ecommerce store.
It could be your online store provides customized gifts or services that may find benefit from personal interaction with your clients. In some cases it may be wise to adopt a positive human touch when working with your clients. However, as your business grows you may discover it is time consuming to keep up with every order personally. This is when a more automated delivery system may be in order.
Customer service is a prized component to any ecommerce business. If a customer has to remind you to make a delivery it is possible you have lost that individual as a customer.
I had a situation where a software product was ordered, but was not delivered. The company found the information, discovered the shipping error, and sent the product to me overnight and added bonus software. Their response to the issue was what allowed me to feel comfortable returning to their ecommerce store for additional software purchases.
If you make a mistake – make it right – make it better than right – and do it quickly. A reputation is hard to gain and easily lost.