Online shoppers today have an array of ecommerce channels to choose from when they are purchasing products – from brand websites to ecommerce marketplaces to social media stores.
Ecommerce business that sell through these channels must strive to consistently offer customers a first-class shopping experience from online checkout to delivery.
One of the fundamental aspects of this first-class shopping experience is the delivery promise – the estimated order delivery date that is displayed to customers at checkout before they purchase a product. Typically, customers are offered a few different delivery date options, which vary based on the shipping speed and cost.
In order to attract, convert, and retain customers, ecommerce companies must be able to:
- Make fast and accurate delivery promises to customers at online checkout.
- Keep delivery promises by unfailingly fulfilling orders on time.
Recent research underscores the importance of making good on delivery promises, with 42% of shoppers stating that the biggest issue undermining their online shopping experience is a product taking longer to be delivered than was promised at the time of purchase. Furthermore, 85% of shoppers said that a poor delivery experience would prevent them from ordering from the same online retailer again.
To help deliver on promises to customers, many ecommerce merchants outsource their order fulfillment operations to third-party logistics (3PL) providers.
In this blog, we will explain how a 3PL can help you drive business growth by making accurate delivery promises to customers and by keeping those promises with deliveries that are on time, every time.
How a 3PL can help you make accurate delivery promises
For ecommerce companies, being able to automatically display an accurate delivery date (with the delivery speed required by customers) at online checkout can lead to an increase in shopper conversions. A recent study showed that 22% of online shoppers abandon their carts during checkout because the delivery options were too slow.
Many merchants wonder: How can I generate fast and accurate delivery dates for customer orders at checkout? A 3PL can help with this.
Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) is one 3PL that excels in this area. Leveraging Amazon’s technological and fulfillment resources and expertise, MCF enables ecommerce businesses to automatically surface accurate delivery dates at online checkout, no matter which channel they are selling on.
Here’s how it works:
- The merchant connects their online stores to MCF’s back-end, order fulfillment system using one of the many integrations and apps available, or a custom API.
- When customers add items to their carts, the merchant’s online store calls the MCF system in real-time.
- The MCF system instantly generates shipping options and delivery dates, taking into account a number of factors including:
- Product availability: MCF has a complete, up-to-date view of the merchant’s inventory levels across the Amazon Fulfillment Network. When making order promises to customers, it’s critical for merchants to ensure that they have the product the customer wants in stock.
- Product distribution: The MCF system considers the location of products – which have been strategically distributed and stored within Amazon’s network of over 200 fulfillment centers – when generating delivery dates.
- Customer location: The MCF system considers the location of customers and determines which stock is closest to the customer and should be used for the order.
- The MCF system transmits the various shipping options and delivery dates in real-time to the merchant’s ecommerce store, and these are visible to customers at checkout.
- Customers choose the shipping option that they want, and – once they complete checkout – the order fulfillment process commences.
It’s important to note that not all 3PLs have the capabilities described above, and some 3PLs may have a different way of calculating order delivery dates and sharing these online with customers.
The bottom line is that – in order to increase customer conversion – your ecommerce company must have the ability to provide customers attractive shipping options and accurate delivery dates at checkout across all the channels you sell on.
How a 3PL can help you keep your delivery promises
Of course, it’s not enough for ecommerce companies to just make order delivery promises – they have to be able to keep those promises by fulfilling the order on time.
This is no easy task, as merchants today face a number of challenges when it comes to order fulfillment and inventory management – and many opt to engage 3PL providers to help them streamline their logistics operations.
A 3PL can help your ecommerce business at every stage of the ecommerce fulfillment process, which encompasses:
- Receiving your inventory in the 3PL’s network of storage facilities including warehouses, distribution centers, or fulfillment centers.
- Storing your inventory in your 3PL’s network of storage facilities until it’s ready to be sold to customers. As mentioned above, your products should be strategically distributed across your 3PL’s network in order to minimize shipping times and costs.
Handling your order processing after an order has been placed by a customer on any of your online sales channels. A 3PL will pick, pack, and ship your products in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
In addition, some 3PLs – like MCF – will provide real-time order tracking, which enables both merchants and customers to gain visibility over the progress of their order and gain confidence that the order delivery promise will be kept.
- Delivering your orders on your customers’ doorsteps on or before the promised delivery date. Working with a 3PL can really help you improve your on-time delivery performance. MCF, for example, has a greater than 97% on-time delivery rate.
A 3PL can help you ensure that your end-to-end order fulfillment process runs smoothly and successfully across your various sales channels and that orders are delivered on time – and this is a pivotal part of maintaining customer satisfaction, trust, and retention. Around 74% of consumers stated that they would increase spending with an online retailer if they are happy with that merchant’s delivery services, according to a recent study.
Consumers today have sky-high expectations when it comes to ecommerce order fulfillment – they want their products delivered as quickly and reliably as possible.
To satisfy customers, ecommerce businesses today must have the capability to:
- Make fast and accurate delivery promises to customers at online checkout, and
- Keep those promises with optimized order fulfillment operations.
As we’ve discussed in this blog, a 3PL can help your ecommerce company improve your order promising capabilities – if you choose the right 3PL.
It’s important that – when you are evaluating prospective 3PLs – you ask them about their on-time delivery rate, their service-level agreements (SLAs) for order fulfillment, their click-to-delivery speeds, and other important metrics. Assessing their performance in these areas will help you determine if they are a 3PL that you can truly trust to help you keep your order delivery promises to customers.