Dropship Essentials For Retailers: How to Ensure Timely and Accurate Direct-to-Consumer Fulfillment

    Customers now have the expectation that they can receive an item quickly for any website – in many cases faster than shopping at a brick-and-mortar store.

    Retail e-commerce is a $220 billion dollar market and is expected to grow by as much as 17 percent each year.

    E-commerce is also where the customers are: an astounding 96 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, and 80 percent of them have used e-commerce within the last month.

    To remain competitive and satisfy the insatiable needs of consumers, retailers are under pressure to expand SKUs without increasing the costs of managing inventory. In the right conditions, direct to consumer orders can be fulfilled directly from your suppliers, thereby expanding SKus without the need to carry costly inventory.

    Introducing Dropship Fulfillment

    When customers shop on your e-commerce website, you will ultimately be judged for how accurately and timely a dropship vendor handles a transaction. Your reputation and your connection with customers are on the line with every transaction.

    It’s imperative to have the same confidence in dropship vendors as if you were fulfilling out of your own warehouse. The last thing you want is to hear from an angry customer that hasn’t received an item from a dropship vendor, because that conversation usually ends with them taking their business elsewhere.

    But just how do retailers manage and control the dropship process and ensure accurate and on-time delivery to online shoppers?

    We’ve outlined a few crucial steps below to help retailers get the most out of their relationship with dropship vendors.

    Steps to Optimize Dropship Vendor Management

    1. Know What You Expect From Vendors

    Retailers need to be upfront about their expectations for drop shipment. Make sure you let dropship vendors know your requirements and timelines. Dropship enablement can help your vendors comply with your specific dropship requirements, such as scheduled inventory updates and private label packing slips. You also want to follow up on your relationships and reinforce expectations.

    2.  Keep Score

    Having real-time dashboards, a score-carding program, and a comprehensive view of your shared inventory will ensure your trading partners are fulfilling orders as promised. You ultimately want to have a view of available inventory at a vendor site that is comparable to your view of internal inventory to minimize customer service issues or lost sales opportunities. For example, DiCentral's dropship dashboard can be customized to your preferences and send alerts of pending transactions or business rules exceptions to your mobile device or smartphone.

    3. Use A Complete Dropship Solution

    If you are a retailer, chances are you have enough on your plate. Most of today's retailers were not built to handle direct to consumer fulfillment and the volume of single SKU order fulfillment that comes with it. While dropship programs enable you to scale your direct-to-consumer fulfillment, you risk losing control of customer service and the order fulfillment process. To help maintain the high levels of customer service and repeat business, retailers should invest in an end-to-end dropship solution that provides vendor onboarding and auditing capabilities that ensure control over the direct-to-consumer order fulfillment process.

    Or you can save yourself the time and expense of building and maintaining an integrated dropship solution by seeking a complete outsourced solution that provides the visibility and the tools to manage both your bulk fulfillment and direct to consumer order fulfillment processes.

    Report: The State of Drop Ship Compliance

    Need help? For nearly two decades, DiCentral’s cloud- based dropship platform has enabled leading retailers to exchange direct-to-consumer orders and inventory and fulfillment data with their dropship vendor communities. Our integrated business assessment will enable you to establish goals, analyze documents to be tested and set dropship guidelines.