Are you old enough to remember the days when customers would patiently wait six to eight weeks for product delivery? Today's customers have a tight comfort zone for shipments.
According to a recent survey, many customers expect their items to be shipped within three days, and 13 percent fully expect their orders to ship the same day. Even if you ship products immediately, if your products aren't reaching your customers fast enough, you are losing goodwill.
Discover the following three options for speeding up your product delivery rates:
Address SoftwareAre you double-checking customer addresses? The post office and other delivery services are highly systematized, so any variation in the way your packages get addressed will slow delivery. An address validation program will standardize your address label formatting so that labels are machine readable, which speeds delivery. Some addressing software will also check your addresses against postal databases to catch errors and complete ZIP codes. Some will also print bar-codes on your packaging or labels.
Ensure Time-of-Day DeliveryCustomers dislike when they come home at the end of the day to find a delivery noticed tacked to their door, which means they have to wait at least another day for their merchandise. But leaving packages on the doorstep of an empty house is a theft risk, and customers dislike that situation more. Many customers surveyed have said that they'd like to have a specific time window for package delivery, and a large number are willing to pay extra for that service.
If you want to offer your customers specific time windows for their deliveries, you can take advantage of local services such as UberRUSH or Deliv that drive packages to customers. In rural areas that aren't served by couriers, you can offer your customers the Hold for Pickup option through the U.S. Postal Service.
Streamline Your FulfillmentCan you reduce the amount of in-house time it takes to get orders to customers? First, look at the time needed to communicate the order to your warehouse staff. If orders are arriving from field locations or sales reps, you may be able to use cloud-based technology to relay the order to your shipping department instantly, even if shipping and bookkeeping happen simultaneously.
Next, look at your physical warehouse space itself. Has your inventory outgrown your facility or equipment? Consider renting a forklift or two and reorganizing the space. Products that turn over most often should be the most accessible, but you shouldn't have to search or dig for less-trafficked items either.
Meeting customer expectations for fast shipping and delivery is a challenge for small businesses that typically don't have their own fleet of drones on hand to fill orders. You can easily neglect this side of the business when marketing, staffing, and sales are continually vying for your attention. But, with a little effort, you can streamline the fulfillment end of your operation and improve your communication with delivery services to offer expedient shipping and delivery speeds.
Whether you are delivering services or products to customers, your speed and efficiency are of paramount importance. This is particularly hard to achieve when delivering products, however, as this often involves outsourcing to third-party companies and the use of advanced software. By following the steps listed here, however, you can look to increase delivery times and achieve your fulfillment goals more effectively.