"Oh Ship" Moments Series: Self-Fulfillment and Shipping Provider Failures

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At some point on their business journey, online retailers have experienced the shipping and fulfillment struggles that come with in-house fulfillment and unreliable 3PLs. Whether it’s keeping up with a rush of orders during a flash sale or ensuring the right products make their way to the right customers, errors during these critical stages can be classified as “Oh Ship” moments. Three retailers shared with us some of the worst shipping and fulfillment nightmares they experienced as a self-fulfiller and working with the wrong 3PL.

“My shipping partner changed my customer’s order and damaged my products.” - Beauty Retailer

Somewhere between purchase and delivery, this beauty retailer experienced fulfillment and shipping failures working with the wrong 3PL. Here’s the nightmare one of their customers experienced.

A customer placed an order for a hairdryer and a variety of lipsticks. This beauty retailer was known for sending photos to customers right after their orders were placed. As usual, their customer happily received the photos showing their products in perfect condition. However, they didn’t arrive at the customer’s home the same way.

A few days after the retailer sent their inventory to their shipping partner, they received a very upsetting complaint. The package the customer received had a broken hairdryer and was missing the lipsticks she paid for. She also noticed that the packaging inside the box was different from the one in the photo. It turned out, the beauty retailer’s shipping partner had carelessly mixed up the order before it was loaded on the delivery truck. After this incident, the beauty retailer took its fulfillment and shipping needs elsewhere.

“Three customers received the wrong items and the replacements didn’t arrive in time for Christmas.” - Bespoke Foods

For many retailers, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. With such a high number of orders and the demand to make it in time for Christmas, “Oh Ship” moments can be inevitable for those who aren’t prepared ahead of time. Bespoke Foods company executive, Andrew Preston, shared his worst holiday fulfillment fiasco.

“Some of our Bespoke Food products got mixed up in the delivery bay just before Christmas. The items didn't have barcodes. Since we couldn’t clearly see the items from outside because of the gift-wrapped packaging, we didn’t notice the mistake.

After delivery, we were alerted that three customers received the wrong items. To correct the shipping error, we had to reproduce the items from scratch and then re-ship them to each customer. On top of that, the replacements didn't arrive before Christmas, so we offered full refunds as a goodwill gesture.”

This oversight cost Bespoke time, money, and their flawless reputation.

“It took two months for my customer to receive her order.” - Self-Fulfiller

CEO Mason Radford was beginning to ship packages across the world outside the US. As an in-house fulfiller, he didn’t have a lot of experience with pricing or the steps involved with international shipping. Radford was unaware of the additional costs and procedures. Here’s what he shared:

“It was my first time shipping internationally. I wasn’t experienced at the time and blindly filled out a customs declaration form at the post office. 

When the postal worker sent me home with the customs form, I didn’t know it was supposed to be attached to the package. Because of this mistake, it took over two months for the package to arrive at my customer’s home! I called in many times trying to figure out why there was a delay. I learned that the form was supposed to be attached to the package prior to mailing.

I did not make this same mistake the second time I shipped internationally. Lesson learned, do your homework.”

Sounds like this was a hard and expensive lesson to learn. “Oh Ship” moments like these can easily be avoided when working with an experienced shipping partner like Rakuten Super Logistics.

These are just a few of the countless “Oh Ship” contest submissions we’ve received from retailers that experienced fiascos with shipping and fulfillment. Think your “Oh Ship” moment can top these and is worthy of our $5,000 grand prize?

Submit it now through July 31st and find out!

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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