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How to Fulfill Orders

by Ash O'Connor

If you've ever used Etsy before, this is pretty similar to that! Made Cleveland has a few policies that may be a little bit different, but they're all aimed to ensure our customers have the best experience possible, so you do too! 

order fulfillment isn't so scary... just 4 basic steps...

You can either scroll through this whole page to view all of the steps outlined below, or you can click the step you'd like to jump to! 

  • Step 1: Accept your order
  • Step 2: Prepare your order for shipping/local meet up
  • Step 3: Get your order to the customer
  • Step 4: Mark as delivered

step 1: accept your order

We typically require that you accept your orders within 24 hours of receiving them. Even if you can't package them and get them out the door, this at least allows the customer to know that you're acknowledging them! 

If this is not something that you're able to do please let us know in advance so we can keep a record and don't hound you all the time! You should also be sure to clearly mark what your store policies are in terms of order fulfillment so your customers can also know what to expect! It's always 100% okay to do something a little 'outside the ordinary' provided you clearly communicate that with your clients!

log into your account and go to all orders

view the order you'd like to accept & fulfill

Tip: Make sure you are fulfilling your orders from oldest to newest. You should always be tracking inventory, but in following this method you will ensure that you are giving priority to the oldest orders first and preventing any customer service headaches in the event of an entry error.

Scroll down to the bottom and click accept and fulfill order

In the pop up screen click accept order

After click Accept Order, your customers will receive an email that says that your order is accepted by you! Below is a sample of the email they receive. If you're shipping and ready to generate the shipping label you can scroll down to the shipping section to get that rollin!

You've Now successfully accepted the order! Next up: get your order ready! Scroll down to see that step!

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step 2: Prepare your order for shipping/local meet up

This step is pretty straight forward and is all about packaging your items and getting them ready to 'go out the door'. 

Whether you're shipping your order, or are coordinating a local meet up - you want to ensure that you're packaging your items with care to prevent damage in transit.  

If you offer Local Meet Up, and that was the method selected for delivery, please continue to read after the Packaging Section to see some tips on best practices on communicating. 

Packaging

T-Shirts/Clothing/Knit Items/Etc:

If you're coordinating a local meet-up, you can easily just neatly fold these items and place them in a shopping bag! Easy peasy!

For shipping, items like this are the easiest to package. They're incredibly malleable and don't damage easily. Even though you can package this type of item in almost anything, you want to make sure that the packaging won't tear or break during transit because that can cause damage to the item. The USPS has some great free options available for this. The only thing to consider when utilizing the USPS options is that they correspond with a specific type of shipping service, which can oftentimes be a little bit higher than a ground service. 

Here are two other ECO FRIENDLY!!! sources from which to purchase mailers for not too much money. Both of these companies also offer custom options, but might have higher minimum ordering quantities for this:

Eco Enclose Recycled Mailers

Noissue Compostable Mailers

Fragile Items like Ceramics/Glass Items/Framed Items/Etc:

These get a little more tricky. If you are packaging for a local meet-up, you can be *slightly* more lenient in how you field this. You want to make sure that as you're passing off the items they're not going to fall out of a bag, or that as the customer gets in their car to drive away, the items won't shift too much in transit. 

An eco-friendly ways to do this would be to utilize old newspapers to wrap your items, and any old moving boxes you have laying around. You want to make sure that they're not too battered because you still want to make a good impression, but there's nothing wrong with re-using boxes! We'll be communicating this practice to our customers and why we encourage it in one of our eco-friendly sustainability blogs! When wrapping the items be sure to protect any handles or any loose/fragile bits. You can also add some additional balls of paper to the box to fill up any 'dead space' which will prevent items from shifting. These items can also be placed in a shopping bag for local meet ups, just be conscious of shifting during transit!

When shipping these items, you can utilize the same boxing practice above, just taking EXTRA care to ensure that there is no shifting of the pieces. I typically like to utilize a 'box in the box' method for extra fragile items. I wrap my pieces and put them in a smaller box and then put that box in a bigger box. Not comically big, but just big enough that it adds an extra layer or protection around the exterior. 

Posters/Cards/Photography/Printed Items:

For posters I like to utilize a tube for mailing. This allows a sturdy exterior and prevents crushing during shipping. 

For Cards and other printed items I like to use either a sturdy envelope or insert a piece of sturdy cardboard into the envelope before sealing. This prevents bending during transit.

Here are some Rigid Mailers from EcoEnclose

Coordinating local meet up

You should take the first step to either email or call your customer to get the ball rollin' on how and where to meet up. It is encouraged that you do this when you accept the order. The customer's email address and phone number are both required so you will have options! It is not recommended that you text. Even though the likelihood that someone is listing their cell phone number is high, it's never 100% guaranteed and until you confirm that texting is acceptable, email or calls are encouraged. 

When you listed Local Meet Up as an option, you included location option(s) which your customer will have had to select and accept when making the choice for Local Meet Up. Be sure to reference this and have that information in hand when reaching out to the customer. If is found right below the product details. (See Images Above)

When you reach out you should also know your schedule and availability. Have your calendar in front of you when calling. Or if you're emailing, I love to use calendly.com. There is a free version which would be perfect for this kind of thing! You can include a link in your email with the option for the customer to pick whatever time works best for them! This will reduce the amount of back and forth emails and allow you to automatically send a friendly reminder of when you're meeting! 

Sample Email: 

'Hi Customer! Thank you so much for your order. I'd love to schedule some time to meet up with you in the next couple of days in the Lakewood area. When is most convenient for you? I typically really like meeting up at The Doughnut Pantry because they have the best crullers. Here is a link to my calendar so you can pick whatever time works best for you! I look forward to meeting you and I hope you enjoy these items as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Warm regards
Incredibly Talented Made Cleveland Vendor' 

This calendar will be a huge help especially as you are probably managing several different sites, and your own life! It syncs with your own calendar and will block off times that are already booked! It's also incredibly helpful during busy seasons like The Holidays or the Warm Weather Market Months. I promise that I'm not a paid sponsor for Calendly - I just LOVE their service!  This is just one option, you can also search for others!


BE SURE TO SHARE CAREFULLY!
Don't divulge too much personal information to your customers. If a customer starts pressing for personal items steer the conversation back to the task at hand. "Thanks for your interest in that! I prefer to keep that personal. When was a good time for you again?" If you ever feel unsafe please reach out to us at Made Cleveland and we will assess the situation. While we are not legal buffs by any stretch of the word, we take your safety and security very seriously and want to ensure that you are well protected in whatever way we can. Mostly this will involve us fielding the customer inquiry up to and including cancelling the order.  We can also point you in the direction of legal resources in the incredibly rare occasion the matter escalates to that level.  

You've successfully packaged your item and/or coordinated local pick up. Now to get your items out the door!

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Step 3: Get your order to the customer

You're almost done! In this step you will:

Generate a shipping label, adhere it to the box, and get it to the post office if you're shipping!

Or 

Meet Up with your customer in a safe location and follow some basic social distancing protocols to 'hand off' your order.  (Scroll past shipping for this portion)

Shipping

If you want to utilize our rates follow the instructions below. You are, of course, welcome to utilize your own rates or carrier. The only thing we require is that you include a link to the carrier (shipping method) and a tracking number for our customers to be able to track their order status!  You can enter this information by selecting other in the order fulfillment method. (see image below)

You've already accepted the order! Now to get a shipping label on it!

After you clicked accept the order, there will be a screen that pops up with shipping options. If you're utilizing USPS be sure to select ShipStation.  (see image below)

As you can see the rates are not listed in order. Be sure to pick whichever rate works best for your item. I typically recommend first class mail package. You will also then select to have the shipping deducted from your earning. This should be fine seeing as how you've padded your item to account for shipping! If you see any glaring issues please reach out to us at [email protected] and we'll respond asap! 

After you click fulfill your screen will refresh. scroll down to additional order details, click actions, and then print shipping label! 

Your customer will then automatically receive an email that their item(s) are ready to ship and it will include the tracking number! 

A new tab will open in your browser with the label. You can either print or download by clicking your option in the upper right hand corner. 

Once you printed the label, attach it to the package and drop it at the post office!

Local Meet Up

It's important that you follow safety measures when meeting up with your customers. In this section we'll discuss practices that should be followed all the time, and additional considerations for COVID safety. 

For forever safety considerations:

When meeting up with strangers, you should always pick a well-lit heavily trafficked area. This will allow the most visibility and will most often prevent harm from occurring. Some great options are shopping market parking lots, police stations, libraries, and the like. 

Consider the buddy system! Bring someone with you! 

Tell a friend or family member where you're going and when!

Message the person you're meeting that you're on your way or that you will be late. This leave a 'paper trail'.

Make sure you bring your cell phone and that the battery is fully charged. 

Do not ever go near an open trunk of a vehicle. You are under no obligation to help someone load an item into their car. We make this clear in our policies. 

Covid Safety Considerations: 

You are encouraged to follow the CDC Guidelines for Covid Safety

Always wear a mask

When meeting with someone find a space where you can safely place an item down, and then take a few steps back without the item getting damaged. This will prevent contact. 

DO NOT EVER place the item in the trunk. This could be a dangerous situation. (see above)

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Step 4: Mark your order as delivered

Keep track of your order by going to usps.com and pasting the tracking number and requesting updates. 

Once you receive notification that your order has been delivered, then you can login to your account, go the corresponding order, scroll down to the bottom. 

Click Enter Delivery Details

Check the box to mark as delivered

Enter the delivery date

Click submit. 

Bada bing bada boom!!!!! Now you're all done! 

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