Get Fast to Get Reorders

Aaron Clements | Oct. 29, 2020, 11:27 p.m.

The best retailers and brands understand that speed is what sets them apart from the competition. This creates loyalty and generates more business. Welcome to the new world where customer experience is everything and speed is a hugely important component.

The terrible event of the Coronavirus pandemic revealed just how unprepared brands were to deal with the online order spike once work could resume. If they had made speed a priority to grow their online business before the pandemic they would have been better situated to meet the demand during it, even with more limited staffing. Hindsight is 20/20 so looking ahead brands that get this right will see sales increase.

There’s a reason Amazon focuses on speed and with half of US online sales going through their marketplace it’s a good idea to take a page from their playbook


Of course this assumes you’ve got a compelling product line and can market it effectively. Startups are especially prone to being slow because they’re usually 1-2 people wearing many hats. I’ve heard countless times that “we are a small team” however like most things in building a brand you have to look at them as investments in your growth. Yes, you’re a small team running a small brand so it’s even more critical that you’re fast because you need reorders! This is common among medium to large brands as well. There’s a reason Amazon focuses on speed and with half of the US online sales going through their marketplace it’s a good idea to take a page from their playbook.

I also know this first hand from an operator's perspective managing a brand’s distribution that went from shipping 400 orders on an average Monday in 2019 to shipping over 2,500 orders in 2020, including any orders placed by 2:00pm the same day. And why are we successful? Because we’ve been placing importance on speed since 2016 and committed to the investment of people, processes and systems to be able to scale this.

We saw the shift to online business years ago and have been steadily making the changes necessary to be able to meet the demand. The lesson learned for us is when brands make speed a priority in shipping online orders they will increase repeat sales.

Long gone are the days when a brand can take 2, 3 and even 4 days to ship an online order


What’s the risk if you aren’t making speed a priority in your business? If brands don’t get fast customers will buy from other brands or go to other marketplaces like Zappos or Amazon to find it because they know it will ship quickly. Speed is a way to keep customers buying directly from you and at a higher margin.

So how do brands get it right?

Review and map your current process for shipping online orders on a whiteboard or piece of paper and ask these questions.

  • How often are we printing orders to ship?
  • Do we have multiple systems to deal with to see the orders?
  • Are there any time delays between when an order is placed and when we put in on the distribution center floor?
  • What is our current time commitment to our customers?
  • Does everyone in the company and our partners understand the process and priority for shipping online orders?
  • What are the common issues we have shipping online orders in a timely manner?
  • Do we have enough people to do the job and are we prepared for volume spikes from the weekend?
  • Are we aligned with our marketing team on promos etc. so we’re prepared for an increase in orders?
  • How do you verify which orders have shipped at the end of the day?

Now set some goals of what you want to achieve.

Our advice, and the point of this article, is to get brands to think about a same day shipping model


For example, all orders placed by 2:00pm ship the same day and this includes Sat/Sun orders all shipping on Monday with the 2:00pm cutoff.

Things to consider to improve the speed of your online order turn time.

  • Map a new order process from customer order to fulfillment and shipment notification.
  • Identify where systems or processes need to be changed, added or possibly removed.
  • Determine how many people you need to do the job. If you can’t add people then make shipping orders part of your core team's responsibility. Many administrative tasks can wait while you focus on speed!
  • Consider working your orders in batches to meet the commitments. E.g print orders at 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm. 
  • Ship continuously as batches work through the floor. Don’t wait to ship them at the end of the day. Why? What if your internet or system crashes?
  • Update customers with shipment confirmations as you ship so for example if an order placed at 8:00am ships at 12:00pm, tell them. They’ll be amazed you shipped their order so fast.
  • Start with a 12:00pm cutoff, get your feet under you then move it out further.
  • Market this to your customers. It’s a big deal so tell them how fast their order will ship and then do it.

Good luck and remember you have to get fast to get reorders!

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