How to handle wine shipping delays
Even if you have highly integrated ecommerce fulfillment operations, shipping delays can still happen. Particularly during peak times of year, you need to avoid making promises to customers that you can't deliver. The 2013 holiday season can serve as a reminder that shipping operations aren't infallible, and you can lose customer loyalty if packages don't arrive on time.
Partially due to bad weather in certain parts of the country and unrealistic delivery promises, a number of retailers and commercial carriers faced customer backlash when packages failed to arrive in time for Christmas, Bloomberg reported. Companies tried to get past their competitors by offering extensive shipping discounts and last-minute deliveries, but many retailers ended up needing to extend refunds and gift cards to unhappy customers when the deadline was missed.
The holiday shipping problems aren't likely to detract from the popularity of ecommerce, but parcel carriers may need to reassess their capacity and retailers may want to consider offering more than one option to avoid this type of problem in the future.
How to avoid wine shipping issues
Even if customers love your wine, delayed shipments can significantly hurt satisfaction and make shoppers reluctant to buy from you again. According to Forbes, many delays are caused before parcels leave the facility, and understanding why shipping hiccups happen can help you prevent some of them. Here are some common problems that occur during fulfillment and the steps you can take in your wine warehouse to reduce them:
- Order processing inaccuracies: Small typos and other errors can be a big deal. Accuracy is essential, and this can be improved when your point of sale system is integrated with your wine inventory software. If you work with a fulfillment partner, it's important to ensure they value order accuracy as well.
- Gaps in communication: The more parties that are involved in your operations, the more chance for complications. Delays can occur when the retailer promises something by a certain date, but the warehouse doesn't have the time to fill the order in that timeframe. You need to communicate with your partners to ensure deadlines are met.
Even with integrated, efficient operations, problems can still happen. You can't control the weather after all. However, these issues can often be proactively handled through proper order management.
Avoid losing customers when packages are late
The quicker you know about a delay, the sooner you can take action and notify customers. If you anticipate late parcels, it's a good idea to let customers know right away rather than waiting for the date their packages were supposed to arrive to pass, Multichannel Merchant stated. This is an important consideration for wineries, especially after a particularly severe winter that froze many roads. The last mile of the customer experience is often the most important in determining satisfaction, but it can be the one you have the least control over.
The severity of the delay and the dollar value of purchases can often be used to determine how this information will be communicated to customers. Depending on the number of customers impacted by the delay, email may be the fastest way to notify everyone. However, loyal repeat customers may warrant a phone call, especially if a particularly large order is going to arrive significantly past the date it was guaranteed. In addition, if delays do occur, it's important to remember not to overpromise again when customers have already been left waiting. Under-promising gives you a chance to exceed expectations, which can give clients a satisfying experience, even after packages don't arrive on time.