You’ve finished marketing your big product drop and it was a success! Now you have hundreds of customers (or more) eagerly awaiting to receive your product.
How do you ensure that everything goes smoothly?
By properly planning your logistics with your warehouse, finding the best couriers for delivery, and managing customer expectations, you can cut down the amount of stress that order fulfillment can cause.
I asked our Head of eFulfillment, Mr. William Tidwell, for some quick advice he can give to small businesses that are doing a highly anticipated product drop for the first time. Many of his tips are from his experience managing popular crowdfunding campaigns.
We hope you find his insights useful!
Michelle: What should small businesses keep in mind as they're planning the logistics part of their product launch?
Will: Logistics is not an exact science – meaning, you can't guarantee that it'll take exactly 2 weeks to manufacture a product, 1 week to send it to your warehouse, 1 week to pick and pack everything and then 1 week to send it out to everyone.
I usually tell clients that they should build out their timeline of when they expect things to be done - and then double it. Why? Because delays will happen. Delays always happen. Build this into your plan and you'll be able to better manage expectations with your manufacturer, warehouse, and customers.
Michelle: When should a product be sent to the warehouse?
Will: Your product needs to be sent to your warehouse with enough time for them to receive, inspect, and prepare it for shipment.
It will take time (up to several days) for orders to be processed – do not expect that orders can be fulfilled the day your inventory arrives at the warehouse. It's best to work closely with your warehouse to ensure that everyone is clear on the expected timeline.Michelle: What other details should you be discussing with your 3PL provider?
Will: Communicate early and often with your 3PL about what’s happening with the inbound inventory and how your campaign is going.
They'll also need to know the following basic information to help prepare fulfillment:
- Total # of orders
- Packaging specifics, such as size and types of boxes you want
- Specific packing instructions, such as special inserts to include
- Expected fulfillment dates
By knowing the above, your 3PL will be able to determine how much staff they will need to ensure they can meet your fulfillment deadlines.
Michelle: What do you need to communicate to your customers when it comes to delivery information?
Will: This is where managing expectations is the most important! I suggest getting actual processing times and deliveries from your 3PL, and adjusting these timelines for your customers.
Handling duties and taxes
Depending on what you are sending and the value of your product, duties and taxes may apply for some countries. This is important to know, because if it turns out that duty and tax apply, your shipment can be held up in customs, causing your customer to be disappointed about the delay in delivery. It's best to be upfront with affected customers and let them know to expect paying additional duty and tax upon delivery.
With the manufacturing finished and your 3PL provider successfully processing your inbound inventory, fulfillment at this stage can be automated with the right tools.
By using Easyship, you can import your orders in one click and use our system to automatically generate shipping labels.
Once the orders are shipped, our dashboard can notify your customers and provide them with a link so they can track their shipment in real-time.
There will always be hiccups in order fulfillment timelines, so it's best to include some buffer time in your schedule to account for these unexpected delays.
Additionally, actively communicating to all parties in the supply chain, from your manufacturer to your customer, will help the process go smoothly. Successful fulfillment also means you'll have your customer's trust that your business can deliver!
The shipping consultants at Easyship have a lot of experience in fulfilling major product launches. We are happy to give you a simple, easy-to-understand quote, in addition to advice to ensure your launch is successfully fulfilled! Contact us today.