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How can retailers effectively manage split orders?


Published on: March 10, 2021

Updated: October 4, 2023

Shipping warehouse

A split order happens when an order containing multiple products is sent in separate shipments. This is sometimes called split shipments. For the end customer, it means that even though they ordered everything together, they should expect multiple deliveries – sometimes over multiple days.

With the unprecedented growth of e-commerce in the last year, managing the customer journey has become vital for brands to run smoothly. Customers are buying more online, more frequently. This means that whilst split orders were fairly common practice prior to the pandemic, they now represent a greater percentage of customer experiences. So, how can retailers manage split orders more effectively?

Why do retailers split orders?

There are lots of practical and logistical reasons that a retailer may split an order. If one item is much bigger or more fragile, for example. Also, if the products are stored in different locations, it makes more sense to send them separately. Additionally, stock availability is a factor. If one product ordered is ready to go, why wait until a different item comes into stock? Split orders can make the process of receiving your order more convenient, timely and safe.

The challenge with split orders

There are downsides to sending split orders. Unsurprisingly it is more expensive to ship multiple packages. This means either you or your customer will have to pay more for delivery. For brands that are committed to becoming more sustainable, split orders also present a different problem. The carbon footprint of splitting orders is larger than when all products are delivered together. Plus, multiple packages mean more packaging. Even for brands using environmentally friendly alternatives to packing materials must accept criticism about using more packaging to cover split orders.

Most importantly, retailers face difficulty when managing customer expectations during a split order. Once the packages are with the carrier, most retailers lose track of its location. So, if a customer calls in wondering where their product is, the retailer may not be able to find out. For most retailers, it is difficult to manage expectations for just one delivery, let alone several. Especially when you consider that the packages may all come from different locations, sometimes crossing international borders with several different logistics carriers.

Managing split orders effectively

To create and manage expectations for the customer, retailers first needs transparency with the carrier. Understandably, that’s easier said than done. It takes a lot of data science to translate carrier updates into a coherent, clear journey. Instead of waiting for a customer to call in, it is best to provide access to an all-in-one tracking page. This gives customers access to live updates on each of their respective packages. No matter the carrier, the warehouse or the delivery date, a tracking page will contain all information the customer needs. This allows them to monitor the progress of each delivery and track any changes, such as delays, without ever having to call in. This practical solution allows the customer to see which products will be arriving at which time.

How to deliver branded tracking pages

But how can retailers capture, clean and harmonize all the data they need to do this? That’s where parcelLab comes in. We transform complex operational data into a customer experience of your own design, so you don’t have to. In other words, our advanced data platform can be fully customised to suit your needs. We’ll work with you to create impressive customer focused experiences that manage expectations, build trust and prolong engagement.

Currently, we monitor shipping data from 150+ carriers worldwide. This enables our 500+ global partners to keep their customers updated with proactive, personalized content. You can see examples of branded tracking pages from our customers here. To find out more about our award-winning platform, contact our team or schedule a demo. Or, you can take a look at our latest research here.

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