Two-Day Shipping or One-Day Order Processing: What Works for Your Customers?

 In Ecommerce, Spotlight

Every logistics and fulfillment blog will tell you that customers demand two-day shipping, or they’ll break out the pitchforks to come get you. However, that conversation often leaves out one of the crucial aspects of smarter ecommerce shipping and fulfillment: processing orders quickly enough for the entire process to still only feels like two days.

Your average customer doesn’t know much about logistics, so every ecommerce company faces a unique concern for giving customers what they want. Do you offer two-day shipping for when an order is processed, or speed up your processing, all to meet their demands for quick products?

Will your customers understand the difference or know what promising one versus the other means? What about your staff?

From the customer perspective, two-day shipping obviously sounds fantastic. However, it stops being so great when things take far longer than two days. In the same light, if an order is processed in a few hours, but shipping takes weeks, people might not even click “buy” if you’re upfront about how long it’ll take to get to their door.

A quick Google search shows plenty of disappointment around both aspects of fulfillment. So, what’s an ecommerce business to do?

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Thoughts on Two-Day Shipping

It can be a significant investment to get your warehouse up to two-day shipping because it is a mix of technology and teamwork. It all comes down to speed in both areas, where you need a platform that can quickly generate orders and pick the best carrier for each shipment. At the same time, your team needs to be fast for the picking, packing, and getting it out the door to avoid common shipping mistakes that can eat into your bottom line.

The benefit is that shoppers love it when you get it right. The risk is that you need to be very clear about your shipping policies and when people can expect the two-day clock to start ticking.

To achieve this, you’ll need to start with the tech and transparent policies. Your ecommerce system needs to be able to generate your orders efficiently and have automatic processes in place to choose the carrier who can meet the two-day window affordably.

Link your ecommerce and CRM or other email tools together to notify customers automatically as well. They’ll want to know that you received their order and then again when things ship. Sending them a tracking number is virtually a requirement, and they’ll use it to keep you honest too.

Process Prevent Backlogs

For many businesses, the jump here is affordability. Yes, you need a team with dedicated time to pick, pack, and ship your orders. However, the two-day element really revolves around choosing the right reliable carrier to reach all your customers within that window.

Your software can define and manage notifications so that customers get their tracking data when the carrier picks up packages from your warehouse. That means a smart warehouse management system, or WMS, that can automate decisions while also manage your labor to ensure you have the team around to handle your order volume.

Workflows and processes within small business software are going to make a big difference here.

Customers love this because they see two-day shipping as a promise that their products will arrive super quick. The downside is that they may expect your products to come sooner than you can make happen. This isn’t about shipping; it’s about order processing. So, let’s dive into that discussion and see why you should always be as transparent and upfront about shipping dates as possible.

Explaining One-Day Order Processing

One-day order processing is the magic going on behind the scenes that may actually keep your customers happiest. Simply put, it’s your ability to confirm an order and purchase then use this to create a warehouse shipment order.

That gets the entire ball rolling, allowing you to pick, pack, and fill the order, then get it out the door. Most customers aren’t going to understand the terminology, so this improvement is about generating customer service wins by stopping complaints.

You can try to make one-day order processing part of your marketing, but it’s not going to have the same effect as two-day shipping.

The most significant benefit of speeding up your order processing is that it’ll prevent customers from waiting weeks or even months for their order to be packaged and shipped. It may also help avoid cancellations from you if customers get frustrated with waiting without any word after they’ve paid you.

You don’t want customers just to sit there and hope you’ll make good on your promise.

Behind-the-Scenes Benefits

For fast order processing to be a useful tool, you’ll again need a smart warehouse or ecommerce tech stack. It’ll need to automate as much of the order payment as possible and then send finalized information to your warehouse.

Your team should then be ready and have the right inventory levels to start filling that order. It requires staff and software working in unison, but new platforms can automate a lot of these actions to make it easier for you to improve processing speeds.

What you’ll like about using a WMS is that they process orders quickly enough for you to insert them in the workflow where they’re needed. So, if you get two orders — the first at regular shipping and then another half a day later with two-day shipping — the system will automatically move the two-day shipping to the front of the line.

Let the Customer Drive Your Choice

Most companies looking at these options are trying to accomplish something specific: make their customers happy.

You’ve likely been getting complaints, seen bad reviews, or had a flood of help tickets around these topics and are trying to solve it. The problem you’re going to face is figuring out what addresses the customers’ issues and what they’ll understand.

Happy customers may buy from you again; unhappy ones won’t.

So, you need to determine if customers are upset because orders are slow or if they want quicker shipment times. Ask if you can best respond by processing an order more quickly and reducing long wait times or if they demand immediate satisfaction with the two-day turnaround option on your website.

In general, customers are more likely to understand two-day shipping on your website, so if the issue is clarity or complaints around not knowing when goods will arrive, this might be a better course of action. On the other hand, if they don’t like how their order disappears for days or weeks before they get a notice about it being shipped, order processing can be the right solution.

Both Is an Option, Too

But we did save the best news for last. In many instances, you’ll actually be able to provide improvements and support to achieve both one-day order processing and two-day shipping within a brief time of each other. That’s all thanks to the affordable technology available to businesses.

Warehouse software is available in most platforms that ecommerce businesses and online storefronts use already. Once you start growing, there are specific WMS options that link your warehouse, inventory, orders, and carriers all for you with simple interfaces. Some systems come as standard modules in platforms you may already be using, while warehouse-specific options may only cost you a few hundred dollars per year for small operations.

You can also work with a third-party logistics company that will have the systems in place to already accomplish this. That way, you’re just worried about keeping the 3PL stocked and running the best storefront.

By combining the goals and relying on software and processes built for these options, you’re leveraging the speed of digital tech to do your order processing and confirmation as quickly as orders are placed. The system will generate and push the order list to your warehouse. Then, it’s just about having the people on staff to pick and pack orders.

The one-day processing window gives you time to adjust your workforce for what’s needed tomorrow and can make it easy to set up restrictions — like orders needing to be placed before 3 pm for the clock to start ticking that day — that manage customer expectations while not disappointing.

Both two-day shipping and one-day order processing can improve your operations. When possible, do both. If you’re not there yet, pick the one that’ll solve issues your existing customers have and let them know about the change. Encourage them to give you another shot, and you’ll be able to generate a substantial benefit to your bottom line.

Infographic: Shipping Prices & Your Customers

Need even more tips? We’ve got you covered with this infographic that helps you better understand how shipping prices affect your customers and influence their purchasing decisions. Want more help on shipping? Read our related guide: Ecommerce Shipping & Fulfillment: The Ultimate Guide.