Why the [.blue]fulfilment experience[.blue] is crucial in eCommerce

January 26, 2023

min read

We are living in the Age of the Customer, wherein businesses are constantly adapting to better understand and serve increasingly powerful consumers.

The rise of social media and eCommerce has brought about better connected, more informed customers, who have greater influence over brands and the buying process than ever before. Now it can take just one rogue tweet or TikTok video for a poor customer experience (CX) to snowball into a viral incident that irreparably damages a brand’s reputation and deters other shoppers from buying. This customer-driven culture of demand and accountability means our expectations for great experiences are at an all-time high.

In fact, 73% of consumers value experience over price and product quality when making purchase decisions, demonstrating the importance of closing the CX gap – the difference between what customers expect from their experience and how well a business is meeting those expectations. To be successful, brands must focus on identifying and addressing critical pain points across the entire customer journey. This is even more crucial for eCommerce brands that rely solely on digital touch points to develop positive customer relationships.

One major pain point within the eCommerce customer journey that brands cannot afford to overlook if they are to meet ever-growing expectations is the fulfilment experience (FX).

What is the fulfilment experience (FX)? 

World-Class Fulfilment + 5-Star Experiences = Fulfilment Experience (FX)

The fulfilment experience puts customers at the heart of fulfilment logistics, which refers to the picking, packing, and shipping of online orders to customers. It can mean the difference between thriving and failing for eCommerce brands that lack the advantage of a bricks-and-mortar store to enhance the customer experience. In eCommerce, most interactions are virtual, with the only physical contact a customer has with your brand typically being when they receive delivery of their order from your online store. 

Here's where leaving a great impression is important to promote brand loyalty, advocacy, and repeat custom. FX encompasses more than just the operations behind delivering online orders – it focuses on ensuring that customers have a 5-star experience from the beginning to the end of their online shopping journey.

Ultimately, brands that deliver a superior experience for their customers generate 5.7 times more revenue than those that don’t. So, what do you need to consider to get the FX right for your customers? 

1. Get every delivery right first time

When 85% of online shoppers would avoid ordering from an eCommerce brand again after a poor delivery experience, you can’t afford for orders to arrive at a customer’s doorstep damaged or containing incorrect products. To avoid such incidents, you may wish to only ship your orders with the most reliable couriers offering the highest-quality service, in addition to more favourable guarantees in cases of delayed, damaged, or missing deliveries. However, beware that this may come at a higher cost to your business.

Similarly, you can work with a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider to fulfil your orders – some are capable of processing thousands of orders per day at consistently high speed, accuracy, and cost-efficiency. With experience in handling different products with varying packing requirements, the best fulfilment providers also use cutting-edge technology to automate the picking and packing of orders for an error-free process.

2. Offer greater delivery flexibility & choice

According to a recent BigCommerce report, a whopping 77% of online shoppers have abandoned a purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options at checkout. Convenience is king when it comes to converting time-poor consumers, so it’s important to be offering a broad range of shipping options as an eCommerce brand. This could include same-day or next-day delivery and ‘Click & Collect’, the latter being the fastest-growing delivery option for nine in 10 retailers, primarily as it is the most convenient option for almost half of consumers who are out during the day and unable to accept deliveries.

At a time when consumers are more environmentally conscious, don’t underestimate the value of offering slower but ‘greener’ delivery options either – 54% of shoppers are prepared to wait longer for an item if it is being shipped by a more sustainable method, with 20% even prepared to pay more for such services. Remember, eCommerce businesses driving higher conversion rates are those adapting to fit around their customers’ lifestyles to provide maximum convenience, choice, and flexibility.

3. Communicate with regular shipping updates & tracking

Every great relationship is fuelled by communication. One survey found that 93% of consumers want to receive proactive updates on their shipments. It’s ultimately in your brand’s best interests to communicate with your customers throughout the delivery process, thus increasing transparency and helping to foster trust, credibility, and customer loyalty. You can better manage customer’s expectations, minimising WISMO (Where is my order?) queries and complaints arising from delayed deliveries. Whether you provide shipping updates via SMS, email, or even a branded order tracking page on your sales channel(s), these touch points also provide an ideal platform for you to promote and cross-sell your products to drive even more sales and revenue.

4. Give your customers an unboxing experience they won’t forget

An IPSOS survey found that 72% of customers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by well designed, branded packaging, proving that we really do judge a book by its cover. So, if you’re still packing orders using plain brown cardboard boxes, now might be the time to switch to bold, custom-branded packaging specifically designed to showcase your products in the best way, whilst ensuring they are delivered in perfect condition. 

The idea is to excite your customers to the extent that they’re eager to share their unboxing experience online, helping to spread the good word about your brand and your products. Even using branded tissue paper, tape or packing slips could make all the difference in elevating the FX. If you currently outsource your eCommerce fulfilment to a 3PL provider, it’s also worthwhile working with them to explore a better way to pack and present your products if you feel the current set-up isn’t quite working for your business.

5. Make customer returns easy

Returns are inevitable in eCommerce, especially during peak trade periods like Christmas when many customers are returning unwanted gifts. Although it might be easy to write off returns as lost sales, 92% of consumers will buy from a brand again if the returns process is easy. Furthermore, hassle-free returns are an opportunity to enhance the FX and retain loyal customers who are more likely to purchase again in the future, increasing customer lifetime value (LTV). 

For instance, if a customer is seeking a different size shirt after ordering one that’s too small, you can facilitate an easy exchange for both you and your team by processing the return and shipping the right-sized item within days. The result is almost certainly a more satisfied customer with more reason to recommend your brand. Research shows that by investing in a solid returns process, online businesses can save costs, increase customer satisfaction, and improve profitability, emphasising the importance of making your returns management process as seamless as possible.

6. Resolve customer issues quickly 

As an eCommerce business, you’re bound to come up against customer complaints when things don’t quite meet expectations. After all, no brand is perfect. Perhaps your customer’s delivery is late, or they’ve received the wrong item. Whatever the issue may be, seize this is another opportunity to improve the FX for customers. A complaint highlights a problem that can be investigated and addressed to prevent further complaints from arising in the future, thus helping to improve your business operations. 

Moreover, research shows that customers whose complaints are handled in less than 5 minutes are willing to spend more on future purchases, and can potentially turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates. By addressing and resolving customer complaints quickly, you can also free up time, stress, and pressure on your Customer Support team, resulting in a happier and more productive work environment.  

The future is FX

In the Age of the Customer, eCommerce brands that don’t deliver a great fulfilment experience with every online purchase risk falling behind competitors that do. From flexible delivery options and branded packaging to real-time order tracking and hassle-free returns, there are several ways to ensure your customers remember your brand for all the right reasons. Success depends on having a versatile fulfilment operation that can grow as your business does – partnering with a trusted 3PL provider like Zendbox could be all the leverage you need to take your online business to the next level. With higher revenue and lower customer acquisition costs at stake, now is the time to embrace a future where customer experience drives eCommerce fulfilment. 

To learn more about how Zendbox can help you deliver an unforgettable fulfilment experience, request a demo today.

James Khoury
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zendbox

James is the vision, strategy, and passion behind Zendbox. With over 20 years' experience in eCommerce, James has become a key opinion leader within this space, offering his smart insights and guidance to support businesses in rapidly scaling up and delivering the best customer experiences.

Further Reading

ready to take control?

Automate your ecommerce fulfilment with Zendbox.

Get started


Simple pricing based on volume of orders. No hidden fees.
Get in touch

Have any

We’ve been doing this for a long time. We might have your answer here.