Underestimating the importance of quality control is potentially disastrous for businesses. Massive eCommerce stores like Amazon live and breathe quality because they know exactly what poor quality costs them. For example, when a shopper receives a damaged product, Amazon assumes responsibility for its return shipping, disposal or repair, and the shipping of a replacement. This is a common and expected practice in the industry, but it is also time-consuming and expensive. Doing it right the first time saves time and money---and it's essentially the definition of quality control.
1. Quality Control Minimizes Shipping Costs
Shipping a customer’s entire order at once is a sign of good quality control. They often order multiple products in one go, and shipping these products separately is unnecessary and chips away at a business's bottom line. A business saves on packaging material and the cost of shipping by combining sold products. Of course, there are always cases where you can't combine orders since they may be in multiple warehouses or on backorder.
Delivering damaged products indicates poor quality control, unless it is the carrier’s fault. When a business has an overwhelming number of returns due to shipping damage, however, the fault lies with inadequate packing.
2. Quality Control Builds Customer Loyalty
Quality control pertains to both products and services. Customers who receive great products or great customer service might repurchase. The opposite of brand loyalty is brand aversion, which results from bad press or poor experiences with a company’s product.
Most people can name a brand they avoid. Do not let your brand be among them.
3. Quality Control Protects the Brand Name
According to psychologists, people remember negative experiences more vividly than positives ones. Not only do we have better memories of bad products and service, those memories last longer than positive memories. Businesses can protect their name by implementing quality control measures and ultimately preventing people from writing virtually permanent bad reviews. Another after effect of a bad experience is bad feedback. Online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon penalize your search results ranking due to negative feedback. This actually hinders your ability to sell on the marketplace which is another blow to your brand and sales.
4. Quality Control Saves Money
Businesses are always looking for new ways to save money, but they sometimes look in the wrong places. As an example, a certain big box retailer allows customers to order online and pick-up the product in person, but they are notorious for a) not having the product in stock after accepting the order, b) pulling the wrong product, and c) allowing customers to pick-up prepaid merchandise without an ID, resulting in theft. While they undoubtedly have quality control procedures, their employees are not following them for any number of reasons, including lack of instruction. The result is a loss of money from replacing goods and paying employees to fix mistakes. Not only is this a waste of money, but it potentially lowers employee morale because they must deal with the fall out.
eCommerce retailers are responsible for controlling the quality of both their products and customer service. No business is perfect, but first impressions matter. Second impressions are arguably even more important if the first one went wrong. Remember that your goal isn’t to avoid building brand aversion, but to build customer loyalty.
It is good to formalize the process and procedure and make sure everyone is fully trained. You can have this QC process manual, or automated within a system. Either way, just make sure you do have a process. It's important to review your QC processes anytime you anticipate a higher than normal order volume to be coming through.
To illustrate how QC works within a system, I'll use my own system, SkuVault, as an example. SkuVault eCommerce Inventory and Warehouse Management System has built-in quality control and human error prevention. In the quality control feature, you scan the order ID, which then shows everything that should be included on that order. Then you scan or select the item you want to pass. The picture pops up and you can confirm if it's the right item. If you scan the wrong item, SkuVault will alert the user that this item was not originally on the order. You can pass or fail items with custom fail reasons (such as damaged product, or wrong product) and then there's a full history of who did the quality control and exactly what they did. If you still have a mis-ship or damaged item go out, you can see who did it and retrain them or whatever it takes to ensure that it doesn't happen again.