Like most Americans these days I do quite a bit of my shopping online. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the retail experience of going to a store, sifting through racks or shelves of products, and then waiting in a long line (if self-service isn’t available) to make my purchase. The benefit to that approach is of course instant gratification, you don’t need to wait anywhere from overnight to six weeks for whatever it is that you want. As a society of compulsive spenders we are buying everything from toys and clothes to food and cars online. However, with online shopping being one of the most prevalent means of receiving goods these days I am still surprised at the chaos that occurs more often than not throughout the process.

I don’t know what it is lately but it seems as though I spend more time sorting out issues with damaged packages arriving than I do on the actual browsing and purchasing of the goods. As a consumer it is hard to say where the defect truly is when you get a box that appears to have been through the ringer and back, for example a lightweight package that clearly states “Do Not Bend” and it shows up bent to hell in multiple places. Is the issue at fulfillment or through the sometimes multiple carriers that handle the package? These days even if something is said to be shipping FedEx, UPS, or USPS, you will find that there are third party contractors used to meet the SLAs that these organizations are required to. It is clear that companies are being so distracted by the need to meet ordering quotas and shipping SLAs that they overlook quality check points in the kitting and fulfillment arena and then again in the care of the shipping of the goods.

However ultimately when damaged goods continue to go out again and again it costs everyone time and money to fix. The company has to deal with claims that not only cover the cost of the goods but the people that have to process those claims. The customer loses some degree of faith in the organization and reconsiders their next purchase, depending on the severity of the issue and the resolution of it. So what is the solution? Do we stop ordering online? Not likely!

It starts with the retailers themselves and within their warehouse and distribution networks. Setting up more stringent quality checks to ensure the packaging of the goods meets the quality standards that the company establishes. During the sourcing and procurement process it is important for companies to focus on the qualitative aspects of their people and processes and not just on the costs of goods sold. Finding suppliers that fit their needs overall is critical to the continuity of their business model, not just in retail but in any industry. Most consumers appreciate high quality standards and will return based on positive experiences.
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Jennifer Ulrich

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