Order to delivery process

Once an online shopper clicks ‘buy now’, they expect you to take care of all the steps needed to get the product delivered to their doorstep. This order to delivery process is critical for your online store success. We explore payments, dispatch and delivery. 

Order to delivery process

If your online store website is the ‘front of house’ experience, you need to place an equal amount of planning into your ‘back of house’ experience.

For the online shopper, once they click “Buy Now” and pass over their credit card details, they are putting trust in your business. They trust that their order will arrive when they expect. They trust that what they ordered will be what is delivered.

There are many complexities to managing an order. When things go wrong, your relationship with the customer can suffer. It’s important to set up a clear D2C order to delivery process and be prepared for the unexpected.

E-Commerce package delivery

Payments

We briefly covered payments in our introductory section on D2C. But in this article, we will go into more detail on how to set up online payments.

When you set up your website to take payments, you’ll likely use a payment gateway. The payment gateway is a piece of software hosted online that securely manages the payment, It protects both your site and the shopper from hackers and fraudsters. The payment gateway you choose should be PCI compliant.  This means the provider has met a set of security and privacy standards that help protect you. 

The payment gateway provider will normally set you up with access to an online tool to manage your account. Here you will be able to run reports on the transactions. And more importantly you will manage the financial aspects of a customer order with this tool..

By going through a payment gateway, you never see the details of an individual’s credit card. It is held by the payment gateway. This is important as if you need to refund a transaction, you can only do that through the payment gateway. The payment gateway lets you identify a particular card owner (say to give a refund) but does not give you any details about their card. It does this using an approach called hashed data.

Within the payment gateway you can also set ‘rules’ to protect yourself from fraudulent attacks. You can  control certain parameters around what types of order you will accept. These are sometimes called ‘flighting rules’.

Flighting rules

So for example, if you do not wish to ship overseas, you can limit credit card transactions to domestic credit cards. If you know there is a country you don’t want to ship to, you can restrict credit cards from that country. 

 

Wallet with credit cards

You can set a maximum order on any particular credit card. This protects you against the scenario of someone buying up all your stock with a stolen credit card for example.

If you have particular customers who demand refunds all the time, you can also ‘block’ their credit cards from being used for future purchases. 

There are two key interactions in your business to consider. The first is that each of these transactions will show up in your bank statement. So if you have to report on financial transactions (often the case in bigger businesses), you need to work with the internal owner of your financial reporting.They will need to access the payment gateway to run reconciliation reports.

And secondly, for your customer service team, you  need to develop a policy and a process for handing refunds and give them access to the payment gateways system.

Getting the payment process to work efficiently is the first step in your order to delivery process. 

D2C warehouse

Once packed, the product needs to be labelled with the delivery details. The order details should have come through from the D2C software. You should set up the integration between the inbound order email and the label printing.

Dispatch and tracking

Once packed and labelled, the order then goes into dispatch and delivery. In some cases, the warehouse provider and delivery service might be the same provider. In other cases it might different. Either way, it’s likely that the package will require a unique ID tracker from the delivery company which can be used to track the delivery.

Ideally, the systems integrate so that the consumer is also sent this ID number when the order is dispatched so they can track when their order will be delivered.

Order management

Once payment is accepted, your order management process kicks in. This covers all the actions that need to happen to make sure the product gets to the purchaser.

For the purposes of this article, we assume the sale of a physical product rather than software or a service. These, in theory are much simpler to manage. We also assume that the physical product is already produced and stored somewhere like a warehouse.

Order details sent to warehouse

Depending on the scale and maturity of your online store, the first step in the process will be an automatically generated email with details of the order sent from your D2C software system (WooCommerce, Shopify or Magento for example) to your warehouse or storage operation.

In the set-up of your system though, you need to define who this goes to. You need to define what you expect them to do with it. You also need to determine how often you expect them to check and process orders.

In a smaller D2C operation, it would be typical for the emails to go through as the orders are placed. Emails might be checked once or twice a day. However in bigger D2C businesses, this process can be more integrated and automated. It can happen in real-time if the business is large enough. For example it could automatically go into your SAP systems to process. This would require some technical set-up however.

Picked, packed and dispatched

Once the order is received, it then needs to be picked, packed and dispatched. Picking refers to taking the product off the shelf where it has been stored. You will also have to agree with the warehouse team how stocks will be tracked. Will the stock level be set in your D2C software system? Or if you already have a stock tracking system, how will the ‘picking’ of a D2C order integrate with that system?

The ‘packing’ is then dependent on the nature of the product you are selling. Does the product already come in a box that is transportation friendly? Or does it need to be packed into another container? What if there are multiple products in the order, will you send them out as separate items or will you collate them in to a single box?

If you are setting this system up, you need to work out all these options up front. You also have to make sure that you have ordered in sufficient boxes and materials for packaging. You should also consider if your product is fragile or affected by temperature and make sure your packaging solution supports this.

The last mile

The next step in the process is the movement of the goods from the central story location to the consumer’s doorstep. 

This is often referred to as the last mile, and we have a whole post on the last mile cost and opportunity specifically if you want to read more. 

 

Delivery

Once in the delivery company systems, in most cases the package will be delivered to the consumer’s doorstep..

But there are multiple scenarios where there can be issues with the delivery and you need to be able to set up systems and processes to deal with these. 

D2C Delivery issue examples

  1. System shows the product was delivered but the customer claims it did not show up
  2. Product is delivered to the wrong address
  3. Wrong product or product quantity is delivered
  4. Product arrives damaged
  5. Product arrives but the customer has changed their mind or says it is not what they wanted.

These are just a small sample of the types of scenarios that can happen when you are delivering to a D2C consumer. None of these are insurmountable but you should be prepared as much as possible. 

Order to delivery process learnings

From setting up this type of system in the past, there’s a few learnings we’d share.

Firstly, it’s highly recommended to add a “Permission to leave” box on the website over form. If you don’t have this and the delivery company attempts to deliver and the customer is not at home, either the product is returned (which adds cost) or it is left and can potentially be stolen. In which case, you would be liable for refunding or replacing the product. With “Permission to leave”, the shopper takes on the risk of not being at home for the delivery.

It’s also worth adding a “Delivery Instructions” box to make this part more customer-friendly. e.g. leave with a neighbour, leave behind bush, leave on back door step etc.

Check with your delivery company on if they have any order delivery confirmation systems. Some will have the delivery driver take a picture of the item being left. For more expensive products, asking for a signature on delivery should be the normal approach.

For refunds and returns, the shopper will have certain legal rights and in general you want to keep your customers happy so you should lean to making the refund process simple.

However, do check very carefully the wording of your policy to make sure no-one can abuse the system. If the customer has placed an order and you have delivered against that order, they do not have cause to ask for a refund in most circumstances.

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Next steps

There are many ways to refine and optimise the order to delivery process. This article only walks through the basic steps required.

What you should consider once you have the basic management of an order working smoothly and profitably is how you can improve the process even more.

Are there elements you can automate? Can you add extra value or convenience into the system for the shopper? We cover some of these more operational aspects in our article on managing an online store.

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We have worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across strategy, working with retailers and building D2C stores. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business  through our consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

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D2C Online Store Status dashboard
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Downloadable D2C status dashboard

Setting up an online store needs you to define your strategy and plan, work out the sales and marketing and also set up the whole operational side of the business including the finances and the delivery / supply chain model. It can be complex to manage.

That’s why we’ve used this project dashboard to great success in the past to have a simple one-page summary of the key actions require to set-up and manage a D2C online store. Download it here or from our resources section. 

Powerpoint and Keynote versions of this document available on request. 

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