This is another Chapter that deals primarily with Drop Shipping. When you use Light Bulk Wholesalers, Large Volume Wholesalers, Liquidators, or Importers, you will already have your product inventory in your home, and you won't be placing individual orders with your Drop Ship Supplier, which is what this Chapter deals with. However, once again, please read this Chapter no matter which combination of Product Sourcing methods you use; there is some information here that is good to know even if you don't use Drop Shippers.
Ok, your Internet Store is open, or your eBay Auctions are running. Orders are starting to come in. You need to get those products out to your customers. Mrs. I.M. Scruffy is sitting in Kansas City waiting for her Conair Blow Dryer, and she wants it NOW! You need to notify your Drop Ship Supplier of your orders.
No matter whether you use an Internet Store Solution, or sell through Auctions, you will have a page on the Internet where you go to view and process your orders. One way or another, you will see the following things when a customer orders from you:
Name and Address:
This is where the customer lives, and it's important that they enter the correct information. Their credit card verification will be tied to this address.
2. Customer Shipping Information:
This is the person and address that the customer wants you to ship the product to. Many times, the customer's billing name and address will be different than the "ship to" name and address, as in the case of a customer sending a gift, for example. You should quickly check to be sure that everything is spelled correctly.
3. Customer Credit Card Number and Expiration Date:
Most decent merchant account and store software will provide the use of AVS (Automatic Verification System) to your site. AVS checks that the card your customer uses matches the billing address that they gave. Most decent merchant and store software will also do instant online approvals for you. That means that you will see an approval number on the order telling you that the credit card is valid, and that their money is being held in the customer's account pending your sale.
4. Customer Email Address:
Hang on to this...it's a valuable marketing tool for later.
5. Sale information:
Your part number, the price you charged, the shipping fee you charged, the tax the customer paid, the sub-total, the total…well, you get the idea. You’ll see an area that gives you these figures concerning the sale.
Now, you need to get this order to your Drop Ship Supplier. Every Supplier is a little different, but they all want the same basic information. Whether you've agreed to order by email, fax, or phone, they will need these things from you:
1. Your business name, address and phone number on all orders you send. This avoids problems with "lost orders". Include the account number that the Supplier gave you when they set you up, as well.
2. The "Ship To" name. Remember, this is not necessarily the customer's name...the customer may want it shipped to another person.
3. The "Ship To" address. Same caution as above. And be sure it's spelled right!
4. Your "PO" number. Every order that comes in through your Internet Store software will have an order number associated with it automatically. You can use this as your Purchase Order number with the Supplier. It helps you track your orders at the end of the month, when you add up your totals.
5. The Supplier's Part Number for the product you're ordering for your customer.
6. The Quantity of the item(s) you're ordering for your customer.
7. A brief description of the item(s) you're ordering for your customer. This is important, in case you or they make a mistake in the product number. If the product description is there as well, someone will catch it.
Below is a text sample of an order email that I would send to a Drop Ship Supplier that doesn’t have an online ordering system for me to use.
TO: ABC-123 Distributing, ATTN: Jane Salesrep
DROP SHIP ORDER
The following is a Drop Ship Order from Worldwide Brands, Inc., Account #12345.
Please ship the product(s) to our customer with our COMPANY address listed as follows:
Worldwide Brands, Inc.
465 S. Orlando Ave. #209
Maitland, Florida 32751
PLEASE CONFIRM THE RECEIPT AND STATUS OF THIS ORDER by return fax at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, or by email at email@example.com, including tracking number where possible.
PLEASE INFORM US ASAP if item(s) are backordered or discontinued.
123 Main St
Anytown, FL, USA 12345
DESCRIPTION: Conair 1600 Watt Hair Dryer
There...that's generally all you'll need to send the Supplier. You don't include pricing information, because you've already agreed on pricing with your Supplier when you set up your account. Your Drop Ship Supplier will send the product to your customer, and will charge your credit card (which they should have on file already) the wholesale price plus shipping.
You can save time by creating a "template" for your order emails. Just create an email containing all the information about your company and your Supplier that does not change, such as your company name, address, and your account number with the Supplier, etc.
Save that email template in your computer. When you send an order, just bring up the blank template and fill in the customer and product information, and hit the Send button. This is easy to do (your email program help section will tell you how to save emails before sending). It saves valuable time that you could be using to work on your business!
You should ask your Drop Ship Supplier if they can email you a tracking number for each order when they ship it. Suppliers usually ship a product to your customer within a couple of days. If they can send you a tracking number for each product shipped, you can pass that email along to your customer. This is a great way to impress the customer with the fact that you are really looking out for them. The customer can simply go to the shipper’s website, enter the tracking number, and find out exactly when the product will be delivered.
So, you've received an order from your customer, and you've passed it along to your Supplier.
Follow up. This could be the most important part of the whole process.
If the Drop Ship Supplier tells you that the customer's item is delayed or backordered, contact the customer RIGHT AWAY. Don't delay. Most customers will understand delays and will not give you a problem about it. However, if you wait a week until you even let them know, they won't be happy.
If you receive a question from a customer, the same rule applies. Deal with it RIGHT AWAY! Your customers are your business... keep them happy!
Once a month or so, send a general email to your past customers for that month (the ones who have already received their products) and thank them for their business. A happy customer is a repeat customer, and there's no better way to make a customer happy than to pay attention to their needs, and thank them for their business.
So what about the customer who just refuses to be happy, no matter what you do? Every once in a while you run into one of those lovely people who are so miserable that they aren't satisfied until everyone else is miserable, too. We'll talk about them next. :o)