Dealing with BackordersWritten by Chris Malta
"Dealing with Backorders" It's going to happen. If you're selling on Internet, there are going to be backorders. As I write this, I have just finished dealing with a backorder situation, and steam is still rising from my ears. By now, I should be used to it. I shouldn't let little things get to me. It's not supplier that I'm upset with. It's customer. Let's start from beginning. A couple of weeks ago, I handled an order for a Conair Digital Blood Pressure Monitor. As usual, I emailed order off to Conair supplier with several others. Later that day, I received a phone call from Conair supplier. The BP monitor was out of stock, but was expected within 10 days. Did I want to place product on backorder, or cancel order altogether? Also as usual, I told supplier I would get back in touch with them after checking with customer. Since customer was located in Orlando, it was a local call. I called his house. I identified myself, told him that I had received his order, and that I was very sorry, but product had just run out of stock, and was expected to be available again in 10 days. I told him I had not yet charged his credit card, and would cancel order if he preferred to go somewhere else. You would have thought I had just told him that I was planning to strangle his cat. He got upset, and I could just hear his face turning purple. Small wonder man needed a blood pressure monitor. I'll spare you details. It came down to this: he thought that I should give him free shipping for his inconvenience. I stuck to my guns, and politely told him that I was not willing to do that. He had placed order only hours before, and I had not yet charged him. He finally agreed to wait for product, but said he would be watching calendar. I knew I had a "trouble customer" on my hands. (Imagine "Twilight Zone" theme music playing at this point). A week later, when I got another call from Conair distributor saying that factory shipment had been delayed further, I braced for impact, and contacted customer. I'll spare you details of that exchange as well. There may be small children present. I managed to keep calm, although I was boiling at this point. Again I offered to cancel order. He refused, saying that he had waited this long; he might as well wait it out. The BP Monitor showed up at distributor two days ago. They were considerate enough to ship it to customer by FedEx 2 Day Air at no extra charge. (My Conair distributor is great!). It will arrive at customer's house today. I was quite happy. Then I checked my email. Another blistering tirade from our over-pressured friend. I wrote back, calmly and politely, and told him he could expect his order in a matter of hours, and I was sorry that he was unsatisfied. I haven't heard back from him, and probably won't.
Pricing Your ShippingWritten by Chris Malta
"Pricing Your Shipping" When you're selling on Internet, shipping costs can create problems. You're charging your customer UP FRONT for cost of shipping their product. That is really best way to do it, for one very good reason: Customers don't like to be charged twice. I've seen sites that tell customer that they may be charged an additional amount later to cover unexpected shipping costs. Yikes! If I saw that when placing an Internet order, I'd be headed for hills. I would definitely go somewhere else. Who wants to give someone they don't know a license to charge their credit card an unspecified amount at a later date? Not me. That's a great way to lose sales. Unfortunately, when dealing with distributors who drop ship, you really never know how much a shipping charge is going to be on any given order. Most of them ship UPS Ground as a matter of course. Some of them will ship US Postal Service if they feel it's more expedient. Well, alright, you say, UPS and USPS have rate charts, don't they? Just figure it out! Not as easily done as said, unfortunately. Some distributors have contracts with UPS that change their rates. Some don't always use UPS, as I've said. But real killer is that you can't set one shipping price on your site for an item, because item may be shipping anywhere in country! Many kinds of eCommerce store software allow your site to directly access UPS Online Shipping Tables to calculate our shipping. You would think you'd be covered, right? Nope. You see, in Shipping manager of store software that I've worked with, you have to enter a Zip Code of Origin for entire site. ONE zip code of origin, for ALL your products. There's no way to enter more than one. The software wants to know where all of your products are shipping FROM, so it can go to UPS tables and calculate how much it will cost to ship TO address on order. The problem is that not everything on your site will ship FROM that one zip code. Your products can ship from distributors all over country, as I said. Say I entered my zip code, 34711, which is just outside of Orlando, Florida, US, as Zip of Origin for a site. I get an order for a product to be shipped to 32818, which is IN Orlando, near Disney World. The site is going to calculate a very small shipping charge for that order, since distance is very small. But what if product that was ordered actually ships from a distributor of mine in California? The actual shipping I have to pay distributor is going to be a good deal higher than site has charged customer for shipping, and that cuts into my profit. That's a BAD thing.