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Two-Day Shipping or One-Day Order Processing: What Wins?

two-day shipping

Two-Day Shipping or One-Day Order Processing: What Wins?

Your average customer doesn’t know much about logistics, so every e-commerce company faces a unique concern for giving customers what they want. Do you offer two-day shipping for when an order is processed, or speed up your processing, all in order to meet their demands for quick products?

From the customer perspective, two-day shipping obviously sounds fantastic. However, it stops being so great when things take far longer than two days. Imagine if your order processing takes a week — how would customers feel?

In the same light, if an order is processed in a few hours, but shipping takes weeks, people might not even click “buy” if you’re upfront about how long it’ll take to get to their door. Google will lead you to many people who are disappointed with shipping times, regardless of the promise they were made.

So, what’s an e-commerce business to do?

Two-Day Shipping Changes

Adding two-day shipping is all about speed in your warehouse. As soon as this team receives an order, they get to work picking, packing, and sending it off to the customer. Buyers have a clear understanding of when things will arrive after the order is shipped and they’ll hold you to it.

To achieve this, you’ll need a streamlined warehouse with quality technology and practices, optimized to move orders as fast as possible. You also need enough people to prevent a backlog. Warehouse management tools are a tremendous help for this labor planning, plus they can ensure you’ve got the inventory of products as well as boxes and packaging materials to keep you ready.

The good news for a business is that you can keep your shipping promises even when inventory runs low because you’re guaranteeing delivery after order processing. 

Making the most out of two-day shipping requires you to be transparent. Customers need to know that the two days are when the product leaves your warehouse and arrives at their door, not when they click “buy.” Companies often address this by providing an estimated arrival date and then following up with an email once the product is shipped.

Thoughts on One-Day Order Processing

Order processing, simply put, is your ability to verify and use a purchase order to create a warehouse shipment order.

Most customers just don’t think about order processing when they’re making a purchase. Some don’t really understand the concept because they’re treating your business like a brick-and-mortar solution where they walk in, ask for what they want, and then you (the business) immediately know and can start on their order.

The behind-the-scenes actions of verifying orders and payment, checking inventory, creating an order for a warehouse, and getting it all in line when your staff is there simply blow by without a thought. You can see this in the wide range of explanations, FAQs, and responses to customer complaints about package deliveries and times. Even Comcast has to explain order processing times on its support pages.

If you’re able to streamline all of those activities, it’s a boost that customers will love, even if they don’t realize it. Processing every part of an order in a single day, or on the same day, allows your team to pick, pack, and send faster. It’ll improve the speed of all orders you receive, not just those that select expedited shipping.

Most of this is done via technology like warehouse management systems, which allow you to better control costs and understand revenue as well as inventory. What you’ll like about using a WMS is that they process orders quickly enough for you to insert them in the workflow where they need. So, if you get two orders — the first at regular shipping and then another an hour later with two-day shipping — the system will automatically move the two-day shipping to the front of the line.

The Customer-Driven Choice

Choosing between these two options requires one more consideration: where are your customers unhappy?

Unhappy customers won’t buy from you again and are likely to leave negative reviews that can impact other sales. When concerns are around your shipping, read them carefully. Ask if you can best respond by processing an order more quickly and reducing long wait times or if they demand immediate satisfaction with the two-day turnaround.

In general, customers are more likely to understand two-day shipping on your website, so if the issue is clarity or complaints around not knowing when goods will arrive, this might be a better course of action. On the other hand, if they don’t like how their order disappears for days or weeks before they get a notice about it being shipped, order processing can be the right solution.

Shoppers on the e-commerce behemoth Amazon will sometimes gripe that their Prime packages still take a week to arrive. Often this is because the seller’s order processing systems and inventory levels have issues. Because customers are paying for two-day shipping, they can feel cheated. It’s a direct sign for where those companies should focus their next warehouse investments.

Both two-day shipping and one-day order processing can improve your operations. When possible do both. When not, pick the one that your customers will understand and appreciate most based on the feedback you already have available.

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Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others. 

FedEx

FEDEX, UPS, & AMAZON SCRAMBLING IN THE AIR FOR FAST, FREE SHIPPING

Christmas came in May for Amazon Prime subscribers, who were informed the platform’s tens of millions of items would be available for free same-day delivery and two-day shipping. 

“Prime Free One-Day is possible because we’ve been building our network for over 20 years,” reads a company statement. “This allows Amazon to work smarter based on decades of process improvement and innovation, and to deliver orders faster and more efficiently.” 

Customers reap the benefits as Rakuten Intelligence research shows that over the past two years, the time from purchase to delivery has been slashed from 5.2 days to 4.3 days on average. And yet, Amazon is faster still, at 3.2 days.

Other retailers took the Amazon news like a lump of coal, with Walmart scrambling to unveil free one-day shipping without a membership fee. Target already had such a program for card-carrying loyalty shoppers. FedEx revealed it was parting ways with Amazon for “strategic reasons.”

Meanwhile, industry watchers caution about the hidden baggage that comes with rapidly delivered packages.

Competition is Fierce

Despite the cheery one-day news, Amazon still faces competition from Walmart, which boasts more than 4,700 store locations and an extensive network of warehouses from which it can deliver packages. Another worthy contender is XPO Logistics, which is among the largest third-party logistics providers with 90 facilities across the country. 

During his December earnings call, FedEx CEO and founder Fred Smith said his company views Amazon “as a wonderful company and service and they’re a good customer of ours. We don’t see them as a peer competitor at this point in time.” 

Mere months later, FedEx severed ties with Amazon and partnered with Dollar General on package delivery services, with expectations to offer the service in more than 1,500 stores by late in the summer, building to over 8,000 stores by 2020. 

“We believe this move is an attempt to increase delivery density in lower population areas,” states the Morgan Stanley Research on the move. “… The Dollar General partnership follows a series of headlines including FDX’s AMZN customer loss, move to seven-day ground delivery, and incentive compensation modification ahead of their June 25th fourth quarter earnings release.

So much for not seeing Amazon as competition. FedEx’s annual report, which was released on July 16, mentioned Amazon six times and included this context: “We face intense competition.”

“[I]f customers, such as Amazon.com, further develop or expand internal capabilities for the services we provide, it will reduce our revenue and could negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations,” the FedEx report states. “News regarding such developments or expansions could also negatively impact the price of our common stock.”

And how is this for sounding completely opposite to what Smith had said just seven months prior? “[S]ome high volume package shippers, such as Amazon.com, are developing and implementing in-house delivery capabilities and utilizing independent contractors for deliveries, and may be considered competitors.”

Look! Up in the Sky!!

“Amazon.com is investing significant capital to establish a network of hubs, aircraft and vehicles,” the FedEx annual report notes.

That’s striking when you consider the far fewer times FedEx rival UPS is mentioned in the same report. Keep in mind that UPS currently has 564 cargo jets and thousands of facilities and fulfillment centers around the world, while Amazon has one air hub and options on 100 planes—by 2021, according to a June announcement. 

Ditching Amazon as an air customer led to FedEx slashing prices to fill its planes, according to numerous reports.

As the shipping giants fight for the skies, benefits are being reaped on the ground. Hillwood, developer of the 26,000-acre master-planned AllianceTexas development near Fort Worth, announced in June it has acquired control of 600 acres of additional contiguous land. Strategically located between Fort Worth Alliance Airport and the BNSF Railway Alliance Intermodal Facility, the new Alliance Westport property increases Hillwood’s potential for more manufacturing, large-scale logistics facilities and aviation sites adjacent to the airport’s recently expanded runways.

Alliance Westport is already home to more than 8 million square feet of industrial and aviation development, including key logistics facilities for UPS, FedEx and Amazon Air. When combined with BNSF Railway’s intermodal facility volumes, these three hubs will offer Alliance Westport customers unparalleled access to rail, highway and air shipping options, all within a one-mile radius. The railway and roads have direct routes to Mexico and expedited transit times to the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“This is one of the most significant land acquisitions in the history of AllianceTexas,” says Tony Creme, senior vice president of Hillwood. “As Alliance Airport and the BNSF Railway Alliance Intermodal Facility continue to expand and strengthen the foundation for AllianceTexas’ commercial growth, this new property in Alliance Westport will serve as a strategic link between these two pieces of critical logistics infrastructure and offer unparalleled connectivity to our customers.”

 But What About the Planet?

As efforts intensify to move products faster, speedy deliveries are taking a toll on the environment, according to Patrick Browne, director of Global Sustainability at UPS

“The time in transit has a direct relationship to the environmental impact,” Browne told CNN Business on July 15. “I don’t think the average consumer understands the environmental impact of having something tomorrow versus two days from now. The more time you give me, the more efficient I can be.”

A van schlepping goods to e-commerce customer doors does remove from the road the vehicles of those who would otherwise be driving to brick and mortar stores, but a 2012 University of Washington story found that advantage is erased if the delivery route begins far away and items are coming immediately, because the ability to lump orders together is diminished. 

Last-mile services such as Amazon Flex and Walmart’s Spark Delivery often deliver only a few items at once in personal vehicles or small vans. A new option called Amazon Day, which offers discounts and rewards to customers who choose “no-rush shipping,” does allow for the consolidation of orders, however.

Amazon’s competition can take solace in the fact that Amazon was already absorbing added costs for fast deliveries before the Prime one-day announcement, which included news of an additional $800 million investment in logistics infrastructure.

FedEx To Raise US Domestic, Import, Export Rates

Memphis, TN – The FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight subsidiaries of the FedEx Corp. have said they will increase their shipping rates effective January 5, 2015.

FedEx Express will increase shipping rates by an average of 4.9 percent for US domestic, US export and US import services.

FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will increase shipping rates by the same rate, while FedEx SmartPost and FedEx Freight will also increase their shipping rates by an average of 4.9 percent.

The rate change applies to eligible FedEx Freight shipments within the US including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands; between the contiguous US and Canada; within Canada; between the contiguous US and Mexico; and within Mexico.

FedEx previously announced in May 2014 that it will apply dimensional weight pricing to all FedEx Ground shipments. That change also takes effect January 5, 2015.

09/23/2014