The home shopping television networks are a tremendous way to sell a product, at high volume — quickly. Congratulations if you have
signed a deal. Now, it’s time to protect your relationship with the network and make sure your operations are ready for purchase spikes, ranging anywhere from 25,000 to more than 100,000 orders per day.
QVC, HSN, and Evine are the three biggest home shopping networks in the U.S., and, although many companies are aware of the high sales potential, some are less aware of the operational coordination that is required to work with these networks. What is involved in drop-shipping orders to home shoppers?
After a drop-shipping contract with the network is signed, your operational team — including administration, warehousing production, and customer service — will prepare and coordinate with networks before, during, and after the campaign. If this is your first drop-shipping experience with one of the big networks, then you must note that there is a low tolerance for error, and you may want to consider outsourcing to fulfillment companies that have a successful drop-shipping track record and are recommended by the home shopping channels.
- Freight and Fulfillment Center Locations: Product dimensions, weights, and the fulfillment center location(s) will be used by the networks to calculate transportation costs. Moreover, although orders will ship on the shopping channel’s freight at a discount, it is in both parties’ best interest to reduce transit distances to reduce shipping costs. Using a West Coast and East Coast distribution center makes sense for campaigns where there is high velocity and low SKU management.
- Multiple Carriers: Each network has a somewhat unique combination of carriers they choose to work with, and thus, your operations will need to have multi-carrier labeling and shipping capabilities. It is critical to coordinate volume spikes to prevent shipment delays from equipment shortage.
- Inventory Quality Control: As a drop shipper, your team is trusted to meet the quality standards that home shopping network brands have developed: inventory quantity and quality, as well as accurate and timely orders fulfilled within the deadline. On large or new campaigns, an inventory auditor typically will be sent to your fulfillment center to conduct an “in-house inspection,” and validate systems are in place to achieve the required quality standards.
- Meeting Turnaround Time: Turnaround times vary by contract. However, speed is encouraged. Rush orders must ship the same day, and, usually, there is a maximum window of two calendar days. Weekend order fulfillment is possible depending on the campaign airdate.
- QA Samples: The final sample is packed and shipped to the network. This sample will be used to confirm whether the product arrives in good condition with the correct selection of packing materials. During the production of the actual batch, it’s critical to use the same packaging as the sample; otherwise, shipping prices can vary from what was already negotiated.
- Custom Packing Slip Paper Stock: QVC and HSN currently require the printing of packing slip customer information on their branded paper stock, so the processing team must make sure to have sufficient stock in house.
- Sending Ship Confirmation Files: Shipment confirmation data is what the networks use to trigger the charge to the customer’s credit card account. Don’t do all the hard work and forget this key piece of inter-business communication. Along those lines, depending on the network, different data files may be transferred to update the shipment status used by the network’s customer service agents
- Customer Service and Returns: Returns can be shipped back to the shopping networks, or they can ship back to the fulfillment centers they originally shipped from. Any “refused” or “undeliverable” order will return to the distribution center or origin, and order status will need to be communicated back to the home shopping network’s customer service team.