Disparate systems can cause all sorts of problems in every aspect of business, including the eCommerce order fulfillment process. Although it’s not exactly the most glamorous part of running an eCommerce store, it’s one of the most important parts as it directly influences your bottom line.
Without real-time visibility into your operations, your business will suffer. Order fulfillment turns into this slow and fragmented process, resulting in back orders and further delays. Don’t fret. Most of these challenges will start to go away once you start unifying these technologies. However, you must first understand how order fulfillment works before you can hope to streamline this operation.
Order fulfillment is perhaps the most important link in the supply chain as it significantly influences customer satisfaction. Your customers’ orders set the supply chain in motion. It is then your job to fulfill each of their orders efficiently and effectively. When done right, you end up with happy customers. However, there’s more to it than fulfilling orders.
It’s quite a complicated process, encompassing everything from inventory storage, picking the orders for packing, packaging these products, and shipping them to customers, without forgetting to notify them along the way to update them on their orders statuses.
As consumers, we don’t often think about the many steps involved between the moment we press the “Confirm Order” button on the merchant website and the moment when the ordered items end up at our doorstep. Successful e-Retailers put a lot of energy, thoughts and money into the entire process to ensure you receive what you ordered within the promised time.
Here are some of the major steps in an order fulfillment process:
Establish a sound fulfillment strategy that will make your business flourish. If you want to take your business to the next level, come up with a great plan to ensure the success of your operations.
Here are a few points you need to consider when creating a fulfillment strategy:
1. Set up a fulfillment center where you process orders.
Given that consumers value affordable as well as fast shipping options, you must do what you can to optimize your fulfillment operations based on where your target market resides. One thing that you may want to do is to spread inventory across multiple locations near common shipping destinations. This way, you can take advantage of ground shipping, which costs far less than air shipping.
You can also consider making the most of urban fulfillment centers. These let you ship orders quickly at an affordable cost to consumers from big cities.
2. Connect all your disparate systems.
Integrated solutions, such as our PortalMX platform, improve operations by connecting disparate systems. They let you oversee orders across various channels without having to worry about replicating data entries in various systems.
Connecting these disparate systems gives you access to real-time, accurate data. You can monitor inventory across all fulfillment centers. This makes it easier for you to avoid stock-outs as the system informs you when you need to purchase new inventory.
3. Think about offering cheap or free shipping promos or options.
Consumers love fast shipping services. That’s partly why two-day and same-day shipping services are on the rise. Apart from gaining customer satisfaction, you can keep transit times down by offering such promises.
There are many ways you can carry out the order fulfillment process, each of which depends on a number of factors—your products, order volume, and willingness to oversee the operation to name a few.
Find out the best order fulfillment method for your business.
In a self-fulfillment model, you perform every step of the fulfillment process by yourself. That means you won’t seek help from a dropshipper or even a third-party logistics provider.
Let someone else carry out the order fulfillment process for you. Hiring a fulfillment center can work wonders for your business if they have the knowledge and expertise to get everything done effectively and efficiently.
In this fulfillment model, if it is applicable to your business and if you do not manufacture your sellable inventory items yourself, you may make a deal with your goods manufacturer to pick, pack and ship your customer orders directly to your customers.
If applicable to your environment, you may consider a hybrid approach which combines part or all of the fulfillment models described above. There is no one-way to implement an optimized and cost-efficient fulfillment system within a retail organization. Often, depending of type of products you sell, your geographical location, your industry segment, it may make sense to use a mix of the models described above.
To satisfy customers and meet their expectations, you must know the entire eCommerce order fulfillment process like the back of your hand. You need to implement a fulfillment model that fits your business. Regardless of the fulfillment model that you choose, trying to seamlessly integrate your various platforms will go a very long way to your business ability to expand smoothly while keeping your customer satisfaction at its peak and your customer service agents’ peace of mind at its best.
As your business continues to grow, you will have to adapt your fulfillment strategy over time. Just remember the simple concepts announced above and you will be on the right track to make the right decisions.