The growth of ecommerce (electronic commerce) has mirrored the growth of digital marketing: Just as people are going online for information, they are also going online to shop, buy, and sell.

Online retail sales in the United States were a massive $501 billion in 2018. Current projections estimate sales to reach as much as $740 billion or more by 2023.

With so much competition, the key for businesses to work successfully in ecommerce is to deliver a superior customer experience. It’s easy to lose a sale online: another store is no further away than a single click. A bad moment can cause customers — and sales — to flee to another retailer.

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Successful businesses need to deliver delightful experiences for the customer all along the buyer’s journey — from shopping to delivery. If they fail to, the customer will find a retailer that will delight.

An exceptional customer experience requires an exceptional quality control program. Tools such as the HubSpot Service Hub and HubSpot CRM can help. HubSpot provides functionality that eliminates the errors and inefficiencies at the root of problems — problems that drive an ecommerce customer to take their business elsewhere.

Delivering a Better Customer Experience in Ecommerce Shipping

When most of us think about ecommerce, we think about the website — the product photos, enticing copy, a CTA, and the online cart.

As components of the ecommerce experience, each of these elements is important in its own way. But shipping may be even more important. Ecommerce shipping, getting the purchased product into the hands of the customer, is the key to a positive customer experience. People want their purchase safe and sound in their hands as quickly as possible.

You can have a great website and a mind-boggling, great offer, but product delivery is an opportunity to make a lasting, positive impression. Any problems will leave the customer bitter and frustrated.

What is quality control in ecommerce shipping?

Ecommerce shipping is an orchestra of moving parts. First, you have warehousing and inventory. Next, you have to pick and pack the product. Then, you need shipping material like protective packaging and to connect the order to the correct address. It’s a complex process.

State-of-the-art automation software, a maze of conveyors, many high-speed auto-apply stations, numerous high-speed image and laser scanners. Any mistake, from missing packaging material, ill-maintained equipment, or a defect in barcodes or labels can lead to lines being shut down, lost productivity, and most importantly, missed deliveries to customers.

Online retailers rely on quality control to support continual improvement in shipping. Quality control is the process by which the shipper identifies and corrects problems with delivery.

This process isolates the problems, then puts in place a sustainable process for correcting them. Done correctly, the ecommerce shipper provides a consistent, delightful experience with every delivery. That constant improvement is what keeps the customer coming back again and again.

Putting together a quality control plan for ecommerce shipping

The Corrective Action Report (CAR) is the centerpiece for the Six Sigma quality control process. The goal of the report is to define the root cause of the problem and determine a resolution that will eliminate the problem in the future.

Managing the detailed, time-consuming process is critical to a successful quality control plan. Let’s look at how HubSpot can help.

The Missing Link — Ecommerce, Shipping, and HubSpot

GO2 Partners was tasked by one of the world’s largest ecommerce shipping businesses to improve the shipping process and provide better label options. Prior to GO2 Partners getting involved, the Fulfillment Centers (FCs) would experience missed label deliveries, fulfillment downtime due to subpar label and packing material, and high kick-out rates — the rate of rejected packages. This was inefficient and expensive, leading, often, to errors and problems. GO2 developed a more consistent and sustainable labeling process that saved time and money and reduced line downtime. This helped prevent missed deliveries to the end-using customer.

With the new label program, the team needed a quality control plan to improve the customer experience. With the rapid pace of shipping, a single label error could take a shipping line down.

The first step in managing quality control was building the CAR as a form in the ticket pipeline in HubSpot. Required information was collected in the fields on the form.

The process to complete the CAR was mapped into a workflow, allowing HubSpot to automate steps such as triggering notifications to key stakeholders. These stakeholders were also added as contacts in the CRM. Tasks are automatically assigned during the CAR investigation and, where possible, required information can be automatically added to the CAR.

Playbooks is another key feature in HubSpot when managing quality control. The quality team uses playbooks while conducting interviews and collecting information for the CAR. The rep knows the right questions to ask and quickly fills in the information to start the process. Playbooks can be linked to contacts for consistency. No matter who handles the interview, by using the playbook, the same questions and process are used in the investigation.

HubSpot helps make the quality control process smooth. With workflows, tickets and playbooks, and information linked through the CRM, the process is streamlined and seamless.

The HubSpot-supported quality control plan in action

Let’s take a look at how the process works:

  • When a quality issue occurs with a shipping label and/or any other customer critical label, a call goes to a rep who starts the process. The rep uses the playbook and a form in HubSpot conversations to collect the initial information on the issue. A GO2 Partners field rep with expertise on media and equipment is then onsite within 24 hours.
  • Once the information is collected, a ticket is automatically created. This sends a notification to the Quality Control team. Tasks are automatically assigned.
  • A manager in the QC team will set the priority and add any other relevant stakeholders to the ticket, including vendors or reps from the FC.
  • The QC will conduct an investigation, filling in the required information on the form. Work is managed using the workflow.
  • Any communication and additional information is logged on the ticket. This way, the stakeholders can stay up to date on the process. Notifications keep everyone in the loop.
  • Once a resolution is identified, next steps — including the solution — are added to the ticket as tasks. Stakeholders are given a deadline, and work is tracked as the tasks are completed.

Once a resolution is determined and the entire process is completed, the ticket and CAR are archived in HubSpot. As an added bonus, a close-out survey can be sent to the customer through HubSpot.

Closing the quality process

Six Sigma is a high-priority technique for process improvement. Any quality control process needs to be included in the customer’s Six Sigma plan, which is managed in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and can be integrated with HubSpot. A one-line summary of the CAR is sent and stored in the ERP to be used in Six Sigma audits.

Finally, a custom dashboard was built in HubSpot to track all open quality issues. The customer and Quality Control teams could identify any open quality issues. At a glance, they can see the factors or issues preventing a speedy resolution.

The Benefits of HubSpot for Quality Control

The quality control program in HubSpot has been a success for both the customer and GO2.

The manual, tedious quality control program previously used for ecommerce shipping is now streamlined and simplified. The teams are already benefiting from:

  • Automation: The workflow automation in HubSpot is saving the Quality Control team time and eliminating errors before they happen. Notifications and tasks are automatically triggered, required information on forms is autofilled, and next steps are automatically assigned.
  • Reporting: Pulling the quarterly quality control data from PDFs and spreadsheets used to be difficult. Now, reports are generated with the click of a button. The dashboard makes it easy to track and manage this process.
  • Integration: Before, updating the Six Sigma reports with a new issue meant manually copying the data into the ERP. But with the integration between HubSpot and the ERP, relevant data is shared automatically and is consistent between the systems.
  • Central Control: Everything is managed on HubSpot — there’s no flipping through systems or searching for information. The entire team can go to one place for everything they need.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that HubSpot is such a powerful tool for quality control. Quality control is all about delighting the customer — which is a concept at the foundation of the inbound methodology and HubSpot.

At first, many on the team didn’t make the connection between HubSpot and a technical process like creating a CAR report for quality control in ecommerce. Once the team overcame the initial skepticism, building the system was easy with the tools and features in HubSpot.

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Originally published Dec 3, 2019 10:00:00 AM, updated December 03 2019