Pivoting to E-commerce Fulfillment
In 2007, online retail accounted for about 5 percent of the US’ total retail sales. In 2019, it was reported at 16 percent (via DigitalCommerce360). In the early days of ecommerce, consumers mostly used online shopping for goods they couldn’t get from local brick and mortar shops. But, online shoppers’ habits have changed as retailers like Amazon, Jet.com, and Target are making it easier for consumers to do their day-to-day shopping online. Consumers have been trending toward depending more on the convenience of shopping from home.
As retailers pivot to fulfill online shopping demands, manufacturers and distributors also need to satiate the rise in demand by changing the way they do business. For fulfillment operations, a huge part of that is making sure they’re shipping out everything that consumers expect – and that includes printed materials like receipts, return information, product information, and instructions just to name a few.
Making sure your shipments have the right information is almost as important as having the right item packed. A shipped packaged with a missing return label, instructions, coupon, or billing information can cause problems for the customer. And, an unhappy customer equals a consumer that won’t become a loyal patron. Here are a few items to review for your packing slips.
Make Sure You Got the Basics
At the very least, your packing list should have the information that verifies what product was sent, where the package was sent, and who sent it. So, make sure your packing list has:
- Recipient name
- Shipping Address
- Company name
- Company contact information
- Order information (date of order, product prices)
- Package content information (SKU numbers, quantity totals)
Get the Branding Right
You could just send out the bare minimum, but going the extra mile to ensure a shipment meets or exceeds a shopper’s expectations can turn a first-time buyer into a loyal customer for years. You’ve worked hard to establish your brand as a valuable asset for your company. Leverage your hard work by making sure your brand is prominently display inside every shipment going to customers.
If you are drop shipping for retail partners, chances are they have compliance requirements for their shipments including proper branding for their forms and packing lists. Not complying with these requirements can be costly, and you may lose out on valuable business. So, it’s important to ensure your packing slips has the details covered – the correct logo, slogan, address, phone number, and website links are likely needed to properly represent your brand or retail partners.
Ensure Accurate Return Information
Today more than ever, consumers are returning goods they bought online. About 15 to 40 percent of online purchases are returned, which is much higher than goods bought in-store. Dozens of retailers now offer free returns on online orders, and to hasten the process, many fulfillment operations add return information to their packing slips. And, while some simply provide a link to where customers can find information regarding returns, it’s helpful for customers to have elaborate return information right out of the box.
Instructions along with a pre-made return label are commonplace for many shippers looking to ensure a more seamless process should the need to return items arise. Returns are a reality, so it’s best for shippers to stay one step ahead by making the process as smooth as possible.
Provide Helpful Product Specific Details
Some items may require additional product documentation like instructions, manuals, or warning labels. Yes, usually goods typically have such information within the packaged item already. But, if you’re shipping goods that may be difficult to unpack such as furniture, product parts, or tools, it is certainly helpful to add some directions in order to alleviate any confusion or frustration.
Don’t Forget to Say Thank You
Consumers have tons of options when it comes to buying goods. So, on behalf of your retail partners or yourself, make your customer’s business is acknowledged and appreciated. Adding a “thank you for your business” message is an easy way to do just that. Including a seasonal message is a great way make your packaging more unique, which helps you stand out from the competition. Also, affixing coupons to the packing slip is a great way to ensure a shopper comes back for more business.
Shipping information, billing, product details, instructions, coupons, return directions and labels – that’s a lot of stuff to pack into a package. Printing each document separately can add up if you’re shipping hundreds or thousands of packages a day. It raises the possibility for packing errors if your fulfillment team needs to pack pages of information.
It’s going to be tough to get all your shipping and product information on one 8.5 by 11 inch packing slip. But, with the right tools you should be able to combine documents so you can print everything altogether. Print your shipping labels right on the same piece of paper as the packing slip itself. Add variable graphics dynamically for certain products. Or, print information on the front and back of forms to save paper. In order to really take your packing slips to the next level, you’re going to need a printing software solution that can handle these tough tasks. If your current printing software can’t provide these solutions, it’s time to look for a new software product.