Starting out as a seller on Amazon can feel pretty intimidating, and fulfillment will be one of the most important components to get right. One review complaining about slow shipping or a late order, and that’s countless customers who may seek out another seller. So, how can you be proactive and stop fulfillment problems before they happen? Read on for some common mistakes and how to prevent them.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s tempting to promise the world to your customers, but don’t say you can do something if you can’t! Other Amazon sellers will promise “1-day order processing” or “2-day shipping” – did you know that those are different? 1-day order processing means that the customer will get a shipping confirmation and tracking number within one day. Two-day shipping, on the other hand, guarantees that your product will be on their doorstep within two business days.
Can you offer either one of those? Or both? When selling on Amazon, you’ll be competing with a lot of other sellers that do offer two-day shipping, but if you can’t handle that right now, that’s okay. It’s better to give your customers a realistic idea of when they’ll be getting the product, instead of overpromising and disappointing them.
The best thing you can do to improve the speed of your shipping is to place your inventory strategically – try to store it as close as possible to the highest percentage of your customer base as possible, and in an area that’s convenient and fast to ship out from. This is especially important for the last mile shipping, which is generally the most time-consuming. The closer you can get your goods to your customers to begin with, the sooner you can get their order to them without any extra work on your part.
Prepare For the Surge
You can’t assume that your demand will be more or less the same (with that coveted upward trendline, of course). Shopping behavior varies a lot during the year, and there will be demand surges – so be prepared! The holiday season is especially critical, and where the worst fulfillment problems occur, like deliveries that are ten days late. However, there will also be random surges throughout the year, and you need to have a plan in place for whenever they occur.
Random surges will be hard to prepare for, but there are some typical times that are fairly predictable, like the holidays. Here are a few easy ways to prepare for those: first, make sure you have a good relationship with your supplier and they can handle you placing a larger, potentially rush order. Second, optimize your supply chain so that there are as few delays as possible, and it’s prepared to scale quickly.
Good Supplier Communication
Your supplier is going to be one of the most important pieces of your puzzle, especially if you’re in drop-shipping. You’re entirely dependent on them holding up their end of the bargain, so make sure you have a great relationship. You need to build trust with them, and it’s a good idea to do some test runs first to see how they handle order fulfillment before committing.
The First 10 Reviews
These first reviews have the potential to make or break your business. You have to make it unacceptable to get anything less than 5 stars for your first 10, even 20 reviews. That means going the extra mile to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, and earning that perfect review. This includes having a bit of cash on hand in anticipation of late shipments or order refunds, which will keep your customers happy and hopefully still earn you a great review on the product, without mentioning the bad fulfillment.
If an early customer or two has a bad experience with your company, like receiving an order late (and you don’t do anything about it), they may give you a low review. Because you’ll have so few it can really tank your average and delay the growth you desperately need in those initial stages. Of course, you should always do everything you can to make all your customers happy, but those first reviews are when it’s most critical.
Final tip: minimize your packaging size. Measure your box and product and make sure it fits in the box as snugly as possible. This is for two reasons: one, it ensures the lowest possible dimensional weight, which lowers the cost. Shipping companies calculate dimensional weight not based on how much the package weighs, but how much space it takes up. Two, it minimizes inventory waste, which lowers your costs.
Amazon has some tough competition, but it can be worth it for the sheer size of the audience and the possibility of scaling. However, there are some classic fulfillment pitfalls that new companies run into that can derail their Amazon seller dreams. To avoid that, follow the steps in this article to proactively prevent fulfillment problems, and you’ll be on your way to Amazon Top Seller in no time.