The Ecommerce Fulfillment Advantage

Eight strategies to build brand loyalty with ecommerce fulfillment

For decades, legacy brands have thrived through mastering the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

But the rise of ecommerce has flipped the script, forcing established players to adapt and navigate the unique demands of the online shopper – especially when legacy brands look to build their direct-to-consumer fulfillment capabilities.

While building a brand-right, functional, SEO-friendly website and showcasing products is critical for selling D2C, the journey doesn't end there. The fulfillment process, often an afterthought, can make or break your brand's success – and, if it falls short of customer expectations, even undo years of effort in building brand equity.

The statistics supporting the importance of the delivery and fulfillment experience are staggering:

  • 98% of ecommerce consumers say that their delivery experience affects their loyalty towards a brand
  • 84% of consumers will not come back to shop from a brand after just one poor delivery experience
  • 82% of consumers who are satisfied with their delivery experience will recommend the brand to friends and family
  • 72% of consumers who are satisfied with their delivery experience will increase their purchase levels with the brand by 12%

So, how exactly can legacy brands leverage order fulfillment and delivery to not only retain customers but also build long-term brand loyalty for their D2C efforts?

1. Set Yourself Up for Success

Listing management is the first step in creating satisfied customers. Obviously, product information, sizing and photography needs to be accurate on every listing across every sales channel so that the customer orders – and gets – what they expect.

But the operational aspects of listing management are also important. Customers want to know item availability, the amount in inventory, estimated delivery time and shipping costs and the return policy before they decide to order.

Advanced order management systems such as the Etail platform create “inventory aware” listings. Listing visibility, content and pricing shown to individual customers is modified based on inventory availability and the actual cost of fulfillment for their specific order. The goal: no surprises and never take an order that can’t be successfully – and profitably – fulfilled.

2. Speed is King

In a market where Amazon Prime has set the two-day shipping standard, speed matters. Speedy delivery can significantly boost customer satisfaction and loyalty and often translates into fewer abandoned carts. Studies show just how crucial this is. Some 53% of consumers have abandoned online purchases due to slow delivery times.

But it's not just about being fast; it's about being accurate. You need to ensure your fulfillment process is optimized for quick, efficient order processing, picking-and-packing, and delivery.  To scale, that often means investing in an advanced order management system that integrates order management; inventory management; warehouse operations like picking, cartonization, and packing; and shipping.

3. Transparency Matters

From the moment a customer clicks "buy" to the moment their package arrives, keeping them in the loop is key.

Nobody likes surprises, especially when it comes to their online shopping experience. Customers appreciate clear and consistent communication throughout the fulfillment process. This includes providing accurate estimated delivery dates, real-time order tracking information, and proactive updates in case of any delays.

By keeping your customers informed, you build trust and demonstrate that you value their time and business.

4. Elevate the Unboxing Experience

First impressions matter, and that applies even after the purchase is made.

The unboxing experience presents a unique opportunity to extend your brand identity beyond the digital realm. Consider incorporating custom-branded packaging, including thank-you notes, or even adding small samples of other products to spark customer interest and encourage repeat purchases.

It’s also important to avoid the negative impression caused by overpackaging products. We’ve all had the experience of ordering a product the size of a toothbrush only to have it delivered in a shipping carton the size of a shoe box.

Somehow, it just feels…wrong. And that’s not brand right.

Mistakes happen when packing product for shipment.  But with parcel size being a major component of shipping costs, these mistakes also can quickly add up to a major drain on profitability.

Consider adding cartonization to your ecommerce fulfillment software stack. Cartonization automates selecting the right size carton and proper amount of fill for every package you ship. That not only saves on packaging and shipping costs, it helps ensure a better unboxing experience.

5. Cater to Diverse Shipping Needs

Not all customers are created equal, and their shipping preferences vary. Offering a variety of shipping options, ranging from standard and expedited delivery to in-store pickup or local delivery options, empowers customers to choose the method that best suits their needs and budget. This level of flexibility demonstrates that you understand your customers' diverse preferences and are committed to meeting their expectations.

6. Consider Sustainability  

Environmental responsibility is more than a trend; it's a deciding factor for a growing number of consumers.

Showcasing your brand's commitment to sustainability—from sourcing eco-friendly materials and implementing green manufacturing processes to offering recyclable packaging and carbon-neutral shipping options—can significantly influence the purchasing decision.

This commitment should be highlighted not just on product pages but throughout the customer journey, reinforcing your brand's values and differentiating you in a competitive market.

7. Turn Returns into Opportunities

No matter how efficient your operation is, returns are an inevitable part of ecommerce. However, instead of viewing them as a negative, consider them as opportunities to learn and improve.

Make the return process simple and hassle-free, providing clear instructions and offering multiple return options, such as prepaid shipping labels or drop-off locations. By prioritizing a smooth return experience, you can turn potentially frustrated customers into brand advocates who appreciate your understanding and customer-centric approach.

8. Build a Strong Foundation

While these strategies are crucial for building a positive customer experience, it's important to remember that they have to be built upon a strong foundation in order to succeed. This foundation includes having a robust inventory management system; investing in reliable fulfillment technology; and establishing clear communication channels between your brand, fulfillment partners and customers.

Investing in advanced order and inventory management technology and data analytics can help you anticipate demand, manage inventory more effectively, minimize delays, reduce errors, and ensure a smoother fulfillment process.

Advanced order management platforms like Etail help ensure the best customer experience on every order you fulfill though:

Here's where data integration comes in:

Breaking Down Data Silos: Real-time data exchange allows you to see everything at once, providing a 360-degree picture of your inventory levels, order status and fulfillment capacity. Automation ensures inventory level, listing updates, and tracking information are published across sales channels in the format each channel requires.

Leveraging Automation: Manual data entry is prone to errors and can be a major bottleneck in the fulfillment process. Automating repetitive tasks such as order entry, data transfer, shipping carton selection, and even label printing, frees up valuable time and resources, while also boosting accuracy and efficiency. This translates to faster order processing, fewer errors and returns, and ultimately, happier customers.

Uncovering Margin Leaks: Integrating fulfillment performance and cost data from throughout your ecommerce operations allows for advanced analytics. For example, Etail’s Ideal Order technology spots areas for margin improvement with the estimated dollar impact of making changes. How does this lead to increased customer satisfaction? Fulfillment costs are often one of the highest expenses associated with ecommerce profitability.  Plugging margin lost to fulfillment issues frees up capital for funding customer acquisition and retention initiatives

Remember, Amazon isn't the only online retailer – but customers expect a similar level of convenience and efficiency from all e-commerce businesses. By integrating your data, embracing automation, and investing in a modern order management system, you can unlock the key to a seamless fulfillment journey that keeps your customers coming back for more. After all, in the e-commerce world, happy customers equal loyal customers.

Additional resources


Order Optimization

Ideal Order


Ecommerce Fulfillment: Meeting the 1-2 Day Delivery Challenge


Maximizing Customer Satisfaction with Distributed Order Management

The Ultimate Guide to Order Management

The Power of Order Fulfillment: Reducing Late Shipments for Repeat Business and Increased Profitability

Shipping Drive Customer Satisfaction

What is Cartonization?

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