"Oh Ship” Moment Series: Working with Unreliable 3PLs

By:
Rakuten Super Logistics
May 26, 2020

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Shoppers have high expectations of online retailers to get orders fulfilled quickly and correctly. Completing eCommerce fulfillment efficiently can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to achieve without the help of eCommerce fulfillment partners. However, if you’re not working with a reliable and trustworthy company, you could be experiencing “Oh Ship” moments that will cost you customers and sales. These four eCommerce retailers shared how they suffered major setbacks from working with the wrong eCommerce fulfillment company.

"Our 3PL continuously delivered the wrong products.” - Illuminate Labs, Inc.

From the beginning, Illuminate Labs, a nutraceutical retailer, experienced continuous problems with their third-party logistics provider. On more than one occasion, customers ordering their supplements would receive products from other companies. The retailer would then be stuck with dealing with endless customer complaints and paying to reship the right item. One order, in particular, was the most embarrassing “Oh Ship” moment of all. Illuminate Labs’ President, Calloway Cook, shared his story:

A customer ordered a ginseng supplement and instead received a pair of shorts. Not only was she disappointed in not receiving her supplement, but she was also completely insulted that the shorts she received were extremely too small for her. 

The retailer had to reassure her that she was a valued customer, and this error, unfortunately, happened because their fulfillment company works with a variety of brands. The retailer then paid to reship the right product along with free products as part of their formal apology. Avoid shipping failures like this by working with the right shipping partner that treats your business as their own.

“Our 3PL sent thousands of the wrong product out.” - BirdRock Baby

BirdRock Baby, a baby bootie retailer, dealt with a very costly “Oh Ship” moment. During one of its biggest sales of the year, a customer ordered 1,000 units of one product. This is where their 3PL made a huge mistake. They shipped out 1,000 units of the wrong product to that customer. This “Oh Ship” moment was a complete disaster. Even if the customer returned the incorrect items and received the correct products, the shoe retailer still wouldn’t make any profit. Between the cost of re-shipping and return labels, they would barely break even. 

What did they do?

BirdRock Baby’s President, Caroline Podgurski, ate the cost of the wrong shipment and filled the customer’s correct order. She said the company was able to keep a good relationship with their customer despite the error and cut a deal to have their 3PL work off the cost of this mistake. 

Many businesses have experienced similar “Oh Ship” moments with eCommerce order fulfillment partners sending out the wrong product. If those mistakes are costing you customers, it’s a good idea to look at a more reliable partner.

“Our fulfillment process has been in a state of flux during the pandemic.” - Prana Brush 

A beauty retailer, Prana Brush, was experiencing fulfillment struggles due to COVID-19 and an unreliable third-party logistics company. When the pandemic first hit, their outsourced fulfillment partner assured their orders were still on track and would be delivered on time. Unfortunately, their outsourced partner could not keep this promise. A few days later, San Francisco instituted the shelter in place order, and shipping and fulfillment came to a sudden halt. The 3PL claimed the shelter in place order applied to their daily business activities.

Already upset with the difficulties this posed on fulfilling orders, Prana Brush discovered their 3PL had been uneducated about the shelter in place order and was legally still able to conduct business. Within a few days, fulfillment was back to normal. However, the turmoil continued a few weeks later when the 3PL was suddenly acquired by another company. Now, the beauty retailer was stuck with a company they knew nothing about.

“Oh Ship” moments like these are perfect demonstrations of why it’s imperative to work with a reliable shipping and fulfillment provider. Your 3PL should support your business, not hurt it. Wrong products, miscommunication, and incorrect addresses are just a few of the shipping and fulfillment horror stories eCommerce businesses experience every day.


Do you have a shipping nightmare even bigger than these retailers?

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Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is the leader in eCommerce order fulfillment services and freight brokerage. RSL offers national fulfillment services and a network of 15 US fulfillment centers located in Anaheim (CA), Atlanta (GA), Austin (TX), Chicago (IL), Denver (CO), Houston (TX), Las Vegas (NV), Miami (FL), Olean (NY), Reno (NV), Salt Lake City (UT), and Scranton (PA). Their state-of-the-art technology allows for integration with popular shopping cart platforms and online marketplaces including Amazon, Big Commerce, Channel Advisor, eBay, Magento, ShipStation, Shopify, Volusion, Walmart Marketplace, and WooCommerce. RSL offers modern fulfillment solutions for leading eCommerce retailers focused on reducing shipping costs, improving order accuracy, decreasing shipping times, and increasing customer satisfaction. 


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