Free Shipping, Speedy Fulfillment, and Your MLM Back Office Software
Ever feel like your direct selling company’s biggest competitor is Amazon? You’re not alone.
Amazon operates on an entirely different model, of course. But with their famous free shipping, they’ve certainly raised the bar for all of us when it comes to fulfillment.
It’s not just the fact that they’re fast and free (if your order is over $25). It’s also the fact that as an Amazon customer, you get constant notifications about the status of your order and where your product is sitting at any given moment.
It has gotten to the point where simply telling your customer they’ll get the product on Friday and then delivering on that promise almost looks, well, unprofessional.
The decisions you make about shipping and fulfillment can dramatically affect your customers’ perception of your business—and can make or break your success. So, make sure your MLM back office software is up to the task of keeping your customers in the loop every step of the way.
How Much Communication Is Enough?
What makes the shipping and fulfillment issue even more challenging for direct selling firms is the fact that distribution models can vary widely from one company to the next—or even within a single firm.
For some direct selling firms, everything is fulfilled from corporate warehouses. Others have sales reps who carry inventory and distribute or ship on their own timelines.
This raises some questions. If you’re fulfilling from corporate, you may very well strive to provide the same level of communication to customers that Amazon does. But if your distributors are ordering products and then distributing them, they’ll have to decide what level of communication is appropriate.
Do customers really need to know that a new box of product just left the warehouse in Buffalo? Or will it be enough for them to know when it has arrived at the distributor’s office or house? After all, there is such a thing as over-informing customers to the point that they get annoyed.
And then there are auto-shipments and subscriptions. Yes, even Amazon allows customers to subscribe to certain products and receive a discount in the process. Your customers will expect the same treatment from you. Can your MLM back office software make that happen?
Can your software provide the same or greater flexibility and customization than Amazon or other major retailers? Can you enable your customers to subscribe to a certain dollar amount of product every month, but then tailor the exact contents of each shipment to their wants and needs?
What About the Special Cases?
If you want to use shipping and fulfillment as a means to create a competitive advantage, there’s something else to consider: how to handle exceptions.
For example, you may be running a wine-of-the-month club but need to keep track of which states don’t allow you to mail wine to them. Or, you may need to keep in mind the restrictions against air-shipping aerosol cans. Any good MLM back office software should hold these considerations as part of its core offering.
What happens when one of your products is sold out? Should it temporarily disappear from your website? Would you rather display a message that says, “Back in stock on March 3”? Or should you present the customer with substitute items?
If you’re considering adopting more flexible and feature rich fulfillment models and want to make sure your MLM back office software can keep up, check out Thatcher Technology’s Prowess system. Our platform offers a highly configurable fulfillment process that supports both standard warehouse and personal inventory management models. If your distributors carry inventory – they can manage their inventory, sell both online and in-person, and trade products with other distributors so that they can fulfill more customer orders and keep satisfaction levels high. Find out how.