It's a few days before Christmas and that gift that we spent hours searching for before ordering online has still not arrived. In a panic, we call the retailer, who tells us they've shipped it, then contact the shipping company, which tells us they haven't received it, or worse, that they've already delivered it--to the wrong address. Does this sound familiar? Many of us have had to brave the mall--or in my case midtown Manhattan--on Christmas Eve to find a replacement for that elusive gift that never made it to its destination on time. As we squeeze ourselves between other last-minute shoppers, we vow in frustration never to do business with that particular retailer or use that shipping company again, even if the late delivery is partly our fault because we left everything until the last minute.
Both retailers and distribution companies have their hands full in these last days, trying to deliver merchandise on time. But problems do happen and great companies differentiate themselves from the rest in the way that they react and try to rectify the situation. Last year, when a customer complained that his wife's Christmas gift wouldn't arrive on time, Vic Ricci, executive vice president of operations at Dotcom Distribution, put on a Santa hat and delivered the package himself.
While executives of fulfillment companies cannot make a habit of delivering packages themselves, organizations can take some steps to avoid problems at such an important time of the year. "It's all about planning," notes Maria Haggerty, president and co-founder of Dotcom Distribution.
Haggerty says another crucial element is making sure that both companies and customers are in possession of the right information, for example knowing the cut-off date for having an item delivered in time through various shipping methods. She also recommends that companies ask their customers what items need to be delivered by the holidays and which are run-of-the-mill purchases so that they can prioritize.
Taking steps to avoid problems is beneficial to both organizations and customers, making sure that purchases are delivered on time.