Every Package is a Person - Every Person has a Story

One Wednesday, about 6 months ago, I was in the warehouse quality checking and packaging outgoing orders.  I came across an order that called for overnight shipping.  As I looked for a good size box, I glanced at the order – 9 Pewter Flasks.

“Wow…Who needs 9 flasks?...Why?...And Why overnighted?” were the questions that immediately ran through my mind.

I paused.

It was then that it hit me:

  • Overnight order on a Wednesday
  • Order for 9 flasks

This was no ordinary package.  These were groomsmen’s gifts likely shipping to a bride who was going to receive them on a Thursday, 2 days prior to her wedding – one of the biggest days of her life.

I couldn’t just take packing this order lightly.  I needed to make sure that everything arrived perfectly – no dented item boxes, no scratched flasks, all 9 had to be the right flask.  An order that seemed so trivial with items that seemed so uninspiring.

I glanced around:

  • A bedskirt for a crib: Was this the final piece needed for a nursery for a family expecting their first child, possibly after trying for years to conceive?
  • A hand brace: Was this for a grandfather recovering from hand surgery who can now pitch a baseball to his 4 year old grandson in the backyard?
  • A bow-tie: Was this for a young gentleman attending prom for the first time, nervous and needing confidence?

It was then that it dawned on me - every package is extraordinary because it is going to a real person.  That person has a story and a life and if I'm not careful my company could play a very negative role at a very important moment in their life.

Yes - if all goes perfect our role in that bride's day is neutral and unnoticed - invisible.

A good packing error percentage is no longer a celebration. Anything less than 100% is now evidence of an inconvenience that we’ve added to someone’s story.  99.97% (where Riley Life performs) is well above industry standard.  However, through this new lens, that is 3 real people in every 10,000 shipments who deserved better.

This simple philosophy now drives and stretches our limits in pursuit of perfection for our customers.

Order fulfillment is a relatively thankless business.  However, we can quietly observe behind the scenes as we add value to the lives of real people with real stories, simply by seeing them as just that.