It’s no surprise that Amazon is today’s e-commerce leader. In fact, according to data from One Click Retail, Amazon was responsible for about 44% of all US e-commerce sales in 2017. Many attribute this to the e-retailer’s more than 75 strategically located fulfillment centers across the country, over 125,000 full-time employees, and the millions of products it sells from thousands of vendors. However, it isn’t Amazon’s large fulfillment network that makes the company #1 in e-commerce; it is its unique fulfillment process that delivers orders the same day they are placed, sometimes within hours. The company’s responsive delivery services keep customers happy, and happy customers purchase again and again.
While Amazon’s fulfillment process may seem unattainable to the average retailer, some of the delivery methods they use are in fact completely possible. It all comes down to meeting your customers’ needs and reframing your ideas on fulfillment.
Know Your Customers
Amazon has made “customer obsession” its number one value, and the company continues to introduce new services, products, and features to provide the ultimate customer experience. It starts with fulfillment. Since 2005, Amazon Prime has been available to accumulate members that pay an annual fee, which allows them to select free two-day shipping for all of their orders. While many retailers see this feature as something that will cost them money, Amazon Prime members actually spend almost twice as much each year compared to non-Prime members.
Building on the success of this ground-breaking fulfillment method, Amazon continues to introduce other shipping options, like Fulfillment by Amazon Onsight and Shipping with Amazon, to meet its customers’ needs. The company knows its customers demand fast and convenient delivery, so Amazon makes it happen. Not only does this create a loyal customer base, but it attracts new customers as well.
All retailers can implement unique fulfillment methods like Amazon, but it is crucial that you first identify what your customers’ needs are. Is it fast or free delivery? Maybe it is both. Once you discover what your customers want, then you can find ways to meet that need.
Go Beyond the Box
- Amazon knew its customers wanted fast and free shipping, so the company looked beyond the box and developed creative fulfillment systems to meet these needs. While not all retailers have a fulfillment network like Amazon, you do have options. Below are some ways to offer new services for your customers or to find options that will meet or exceed their delivery expectations.
- If you have high volume and want to get orders out the door quickly, utilize zone skipping. Zone skipping is a logistics technique where shippers hold customer orders destined for a particular region until the quantity reaches a full truckload. These orders are then shipped in bulk to that region, thereby saving on shipping costs.
- Are your current carriers not keeping up with your shipping volume? Add last-mile carriers to your network. This will improve your delivery speed while providing more shipping options to your customers.
- Is peak shipping season taking a bite out of your bottom line? Use Advanced Date Shopping to take advantage of seasonal carrier offers and conditions, including expanded delivery days. Advanced Date Shopping enables you to move more product out the door faster, while reducing shipping costs and delighting your customers with on-time delivery, even during the busy holiday season.
- If you deal with temperature-sensitive products, upgrade your carrier services to enable weather restrictions routing so you can access weather forecast data for shipping. This will ensure customers receive their order as expected.
There are many options to consider in increasing customer satisfaction through fulfillment. But before implementing any new fulfillment process, be sure you listen to your customers and understand their demands. Then select the fulfillment processes that ensure you meet those needs. With this approach, you can not only build a loyal customer base, like Amazon’s, but you can use fulfillment to your advantage and boost business.
Matt Mullen is Senior Vice President and Managing Director at ProShip, Inc., a Neopost company, and a global provider of logistics software and product solutions, including enterprise-wide, multi-carrier shipping and manifesting software, automated packing solutions and intelligent parcel lockers. ProShip’s reputation for quality is backed by decades of IT and supply chain expertise. From packing to shipping to delivery, ProShip’s powerful solutions enable goods to be delivered faster, more efficiently and more cost-effectively than ever before. For more information, please visit www.proshipinc.com.