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The Art of fulfilment - Part 1

  • What do you do if you find yourself in a position where the fulfilment has gone wrong – for whatever reason; lack of stock from brand, late delivery from postal service etc?
  • How do you appease customers?
  • How do you fix the problems?

Sue Randall, business development director at Orbital Response looks at the best way to minimise both disruption to customers and the impact on retailers.

fulfilmentAs online and home shopping sales continue to rise, it is only natural that a rise in the problems associated with fulfilment will occur. A perfectly fulfilled purchase can lead to brand loyalty and ongoing relationships for the foreseeable future. Get it wrong and brands could lose a customer for life. Retailers must therefore reconsider their fulfilment service at this time of year to ensure that they keep all their customers happy.

Benefits of outsourcing fulfilment

The benefit of using an outsourced provider for an inbound call centre or fulfilment services is that they have the expertise and resources to manage and deal with any of these problems in an effective and efficient manner. Providers can offer the brand recommendations and solutions and, from their experience, they are able to identify any holes in the process prior to campaigns going live. Their experience also ensures that any defects can be turned around quickly with problems rectified in a professional manner preventing as little damage for the brand as possible.

There are a number of potential pitfalls that an outsourced provider can experience. It is up to the provider to work with their client to find a successful conclusion and appease a customer if a situation does occur. For example if there is a delivery error, it could be up to the fulfilment provider to urgently re-despatch a replacement product. In this situation it may be advisable to use a different delivery method or company to that of the first despatch to show a customer that every effort is being made to stop a repeat.  

fulfilment services

Warehousing and stock management

Stock shortages from underestimating the demand and poor forecasting will leave customers with a negative perception of the brand if their chosen item is not delivered on time. Christmas is certainly not the time to do this as it will leave one of the most special days of the year potentially ruined. This doesn’t foster long term customer relations, something that every brand strives for, especially at an economic time like the present. As a result, brands and their warehouse fufilment providers must ensure that levels of stock are available to meet all demand.

Dealing with demand

Despite this, fulfilment houses can run out of stock if a brand or retailer experiences a higher than expected demand for their product. Again it is essential to appease the customer if this does happen as they expect their product to be delivered almost yesterday. The fulfilment services provider must communicate with the customer to advise of the situation and inform them of when stock will arrive. It is then up to the fulfilment provider to work closely with the brand or retailer to resolve the issue as soon as possible and get the new stock into the warehouse ready for despatch.

End of part 1 - See 'The Art of fulfilment part two'
For more information about warehousing and distrbution and fulfilment, visit Orbital Response

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