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There is the age old business adage that goes “the customer is always right.” That’s easier for upper management to embrace as opposed to the direct workers who come face to face with customers.
In the retail store model, it is always important to provide a positive shopping experience for the customer because you want them to make the effort to come back to the story again and again. That same principle applies to the on-line buyer but the positive shopping experience now becomes the sole responsibility of the fulfillment center and their pick and pack procedures.
Website shopping portals have replaced the traditional brick and mortar business. As a result, direct customer interaction has essentially vanished. When somebody orders a book from Amazon.com they aren’t talking to a sales associate. They are doing their own browsing, review reading and ordering. Their expectation is that the item they ordered will be delivered in the designated timeframe and in pristine condition. If not then the responsibility falls back on the fulfillment center to rectify the situation.
An operation like Amazon prides itself on its fulfillment business and by keeping it in house they are able to exert a high level of quality control. In many ways they have set the standard for on-line shopping and customer satisfaction. For a lot of businesses it just isn’t cost effective to have their own in house fulfillment facility. That is why they turn to independent fulfillment centers to handle their entire pick and pack needs. They deliver the inventory and for a fee, the facility handles the rest. The important thing to keep in mind is that for all practical purposes that fulfillment center is representing the company who hired them. Their customers still want what they ordered, when they ordered it.
To keep up with Amazon, fulfillment centers need to stay ahead of the curve with regard to technology. This applies specifically to the warehouse management system they have put in place for order processing and inventory accounting. If this system can’t keep up with the demands of processing by providing up to date information then ultimately a customer will lose out was they discover that the product they ordered is out of stock. That could force them to seek out the product elsewhere and that’s not a good option for an on-line company.
Part of a building customer satisfaction is also about providing customer service. For shipments, customers like to be able to track their orders. This can be easily accomplished by implementing tracking software programs. If for some reason a customer returns a product because they are dissatisfied, there is still the opportunity to keep them happy by providing a swift and complete resolution to their concerns. This can either be with a refund or replacement product. A customer might not return to a restaurant who serves bad food but if they got the wrong order from a favorite on-line shop, they’ll still go back there as long as they feel like their needs are being respected.