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A Guide To Fulfillment Dates A.K.A. Shipping Dates

February 17, 2021 Published by

person circling a date on a calendar

For ecommerce businesses, it is now more important than ever to provide satisfactory deliveries. Nearly 70% of shoppers are less likely to shop with a retailer again if their order is not delivered within two days of the date promised. This is why it’s so important to give your shoppers accurate fulfillment dates if you want to develop repeat customers.

Read on to learn types of fulfillment dates a.k.a. shipping dates to track and factors to consider when estimating a delivery time.

What are Fulfillment or Shipping Dates?

Fulfillment dates are also known as shipping dates and can broadly refer to all terms in fulfillment like delivery dates, return dates etc. However, referring to them as a shipping date is kind of a misnomer as it refers specifically to only one phase in fulfillment.

Frequently communicating your fulfillment dates can reduce your customers’ frustrations, reduce the likelihood of failed delivery attempts, and improve order management.

The Top 6 Important Fulfillment Dates To Track

Here are some of the most vital fulfillment dates to understand and track if you want to successfully fulfill orders:

  1. Ship Date

As mentioned earlier, a ship date is the date an order is shipped from a warehouse or seller to the customer. For example, if a customer orders with 5-7 business day standard shipping, they’ll expect their order delivered within that range of time after the ship date.

You should also note that the order date will not always be the same as the ship date. This happens when an ecommerce store only works business days and not weekends (Meaning, if your customer places an order on Saturday, it likely won’t ship until Monday) or when an item is ordered after a set shipping cutoff during the day.

  1. Estimated Shipping Date

An estimated shipping date is an informed guess on when your order will ship out. This is not always perfect and could be off by a bit of time due to order fulfillment cutoffs.

  1. Estimated Delivery Date

An estimated delivery date is when your customer can expect their order to arrive. If a shipping method is not guaranteed, this date could also be a range of days. Estimated delivery dates might be set once an order is in a carrier’s hands, but it could still change after that. Shipping delays do happen, but an estimate can help your customer plan for it.

  1. Delivery Date

Your delivery date is the day when your shipment is delivered to your customer. Delivery dates don’t always match their estimated delivery date for many reasons like an issue with customs, a federal holiday, and more.

  1. Invoice Creation Date

An invoice creation date is when the invoice was created and processed.

  1. Return Date

A return date is when your product is returned to the seller. It’s a term not to be confused with your return window, which is the total time customers have to initiate their return and send their product back to the seller. It is also different from a return cutoff, which is the last day a customer can make an ecommerce return.

Factors To Take Into Account When Estimating A Delivery Time

Many factors must be considered to estimate an accurate delivery time. This includes:

  1. Federal Holidays

The holidays can seriously slow down shipping times as many companies tend to take those days off. For example, if you’re an international seller, your customer in another country may not be aware of any federal holiday closures so make sure to always communicate how you’ll be operating during these days.

  1. Customs

When you ship internationally, customs can seriously impact your shipping times. Customs can sometimes take days or even weeks to get through and then deliver your items. Packages can get held at customs longer than anticipated, especially if they’re lacking the proper tariff codes.

  1. Weather-impacted Slowdowns

Any weather-related slowdowns like snow, heavy rain, and damage from natural disasters might slow down your package deliveries. For example, if you ship to the Southern United States, it’s not unusual to experience delays during hurricane season.

  1. Transit times & shipping services

Transit times can vary depending on the carrier you are shipping with, shipping destination, and more. Any slower, cheaper delivery options are usually not guaranteed and could take several modes of transportation (for example: cargo or air to truck, making the journey of a package long and prone to various weather conditions.)

Fulfillment Works Can Help You Fulfill Orders Successfully

If you’re looking for a way to fulfill your orders efficiently and on-time, consider working with a 3PL like Fulfillment works. We are fully equipped to handle high-volume order processing and improve shipping efficiencies.