Looking at the big picture, most online shoppers simply want an uneventful sale – no delays, technical glitches or any other events that add stress to the online shopping experience. Online retailers that routinely achieve this goal are in a good position to build loyalty among their customers.
However, for many small online businesses this is easier said than done. The three scenarios below are common among online sellers, which can inhibit the customer from receiving their desired experience.
The Jack of All Trades
It is common among new online businesses for one person to handle every aspect of every sale. This includes storage of product, sale processing, packing, shipping, as well as after-sale customer service. There is also website and financial management, industry research and product marketing.
Business owners who are a “jack of all trades, but master of none” lose valuable time in their day that could be spent growing and improving their businesses. This scenario also increases the likelihood for shipping and customer service inaccuracies, which will lead to fewer loyal customers.
The Product Expert
A business owner might know every aspect of his or her product (its history, how it’s made, how it works – you name it). While having this expertise will benefit the owner’s ability to market and sell the product, it doesn’t make the owner an expert in logistics and customer service.
Some of these owners lose the loyalty of their customers by mishandling sales due to a lack of organization and the inability to quickly correct the mishaps that do occur.
The Tidal Wave (of Sales)
When sales suddenly rise, a business owner is faced with the decision to hire additional staff. Though having a larger staff to keep up with the influx of sales can be a good thing for the short-term, the long-term effect can increase the business’ overhead, especially if sales are seasonal.
A restaurant owner has the luxury of having additional staff only during busy times of the day, but a small online seller may have trouble predicting busy periods far enough in advance to staff up in time. Retaining staff while waiting for business to pick up is equally inefficient as being understaffed during a rise in demand.
Luckily there are solutions to all three of these scenarios.
Small business owners in need of logistics expertise can rely on a fulfillment service to pack, ship and take returns of their products, freeing an owner’s time to concentrate on other aspects of the business.
When a transaction takes place, the fulfillment service is notified and handles the picking, packing, and shipping process, saving the owner time (not having to run to the post office every day) and money (not having to hire additional staff to handle logistics). In addition, some fulfillment services, including Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), allow businesses to offer free shipping to customers.
Some fulfillment services, like FBA, also handle customer service requests and returns, leading to a better and more consistent online shopping experience for the customer. The staff is trained and experienced in working with customers – it’s what they do every day.
FBA has published specific case studies of how its logistics network has helped online sellers improve various aspects of their operations. Some business owners from the case studies originally had a difficult time letting go of their business’ logistics, but ultimately witnessed a decrease in customer service requests, an increase in sales and a consistent experience for their customers.
If you fall into one of the categories above, take a look at the options available to help you handle logistics. You’ll find that outsourcing logistics to a fulfillment service like FBA will keep your customers happy and coming back for more.
About the Author – Ray Galeotti, an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience, is the owner and CEO of Eve’s Addiction, an online seller of premium sterling silver jewelry, and currently uses FBA for his business. For more information on the company, visit www.evesaddiction.com.