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A few years ago I purchased a camera on a popular online marketplace — and what a trip to hell and back that was. I tallied more than 10 hours over three days on the phone with various customer service reps. At one point I was informed I’d purchased a product that didn’t exist (i.e. it was out of inventory); at another I was told my package was in the mail and on the way! WTF?!
Spoiler alert: 15 days went by and I never received my product.
Sure, my money was returned, but had things turned out differently I would have purchased from this specific retailer again and again because of their low prices and crazy awesome product selection. As it was, I ended up frustrated and back to the beginning of my camera search with a different vendor.
My story’s not unique – a lot of us have had poor customer support experiences. But you know better, right? You have loads of happy, returning customers because you follow a few simple guidelines for managing orders on your e-commerce site.
Apply the first-in, first-out rule
This is a no-brainer, but when a lot of orders pile up, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and skip over your oldest orders. Before you know it, an order can get buried, forgotten and lost. No bueno! Always take care of customers who were first to order to make sure they get their goods in a timely manner.
Filter your orders
Online Store filter options were created to help you organize and manage the orders for shipping and processing. These functions are incredibly useful if you have a large number of orders. Rather than digging through your orders, you can use filters like payment status (to help you get a head start on paid orders) or order date (to get your oldest orders out first).
Keep an eye on inventory
This is another no-brainer, but inventory is easy to lose track of when your attention is focused on something else. This is a common challenge for businesses – they’ll put all of their attention on customer growth and marketing, and lose track of what matters most: having products! Luckily, there’s an easy want to track your inventory without having to walk through your warehouse counting your merchandise.
Handle your shipping efficiently
Customers are impatient and want their orders shipped in a reliable, affordable and timely manner. You want to exceed your customers’ expectations, which is why fast order fulfillment (especially on express shipping) and smart shipping methods are crucial. As a rule of thumb, try to ship an item on the same day your buyer pays to avoid any mistakes or issues.
Attach a tracking number
This makes your life so much easier. After your drop your product off at the post office, it’s in someone else’s hands – at this point you have no control! A shipping/tracking number is a reliable way for customers to follow up on the status of their order without having to contact you directly.