We have come a long way on the journey from the Pony Express to Federal Express
From: “I wonder if the courier died?”
To: “FedEx received the Package”
FedEx, UPS, and even the US Postal Service, provide their customers with real-time shipment updates. They also give merchants access to many shipping service types – next day, 2-day, 3-day, ground, and more.
Similarly, online retailers can and should offer choices to their customers. For example, Amazon gives customers multiple date-certain delivery choices, also known as Date-Certain Shipping or Deterministic Shipping, leaving those who don’t at a competitive disadvantage.
Given that Amazon spent $16.2 Billion on shipping expenses in 2016 alone, we can be certain that it has cracked the shopping cart conversion code better than anyone else, especially when it comes to shipping and fulfillment.
We have taken a good hard look at their practices, and have found that merchants don’t need Amazon’s size or scale to add date-certain shipping to their arsenal of retail weapons.
How to go about implementing these strategies and tactics
The answer lies in technology. Modern order management software, like Pulse Commerce’s, that has deep real-time integration with shipping carriers like UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc. can easily enable date-certain shipping for merchants.
You might consider integrating directly using each carrier’s API. While shipment tracking information is crucial, that’s not all. You also need accurate, real-time information on:
- Item fulfillment (i.e. is the item in stock)
- Which warehouse or store will the item ship from
- The cut-off time for order processing by sales channel and fulfillment location before it’s picked, packed and scheduled for UPS or FedEx to pick up.
Most if not all this information typically resides in an order management system, which may also house the product catalog and inventory data.
An Order Management System (OMS) with robust integration can:
- Integrate with all popular shipping carriers and ecommerce platforms, reducing complexity.
- Track orders from source to customer’s doorstep, and provide proactive alerts on exceptions.
- Enable you to expose this information to customers through many formats: (1) automated email and SMS notifications; and (2) real-time branded tracking on website or mobile apps.
An OMS does much more, including intelligent order routing to turn orders around faster while optimizing inventory. You can learn more about the broad role that an OMS plays in the enterprise, by reading this article on Order Management Essentials.