It seems straightforward enough: Process and deliver an order to your customers on time and with no damage to the product. Unfortunately, order fulfillment is not that simple. Getting a product from point A to point B involves many stages, at many levels. It also involves groups of people who need to coordinate amongst each other if there’s any hope of having that package arrive on time, in one piece, with the proper documentation.
The good news is there are ways to better manage this process. The key is to have a system in place that accounts for every step of the fulfillment journey; from the moment the product is ordered until delivery to the customer, and beyond that if there are any refunds or other issues. Though it certainly isn’t easy, implementing a practical system to optimize order fulfillment is very possible. Here are some points to help get your business started.
Automation, Even for B2B Customers
Technology is created for two reasons: to help reduce the occurrences of human error and to make processes more efficient. Both are possible within order fulfillment. Your business should be taking advantage of the tools made available by the proliferation of technology. The goal of automation is to cut out any manual steps to the order fulfillment process. That includes business-to-business (B2B) customers who typically like to deal with real people. But once you have secured them as clients, automating the ordering process saves valuable time and allows for tracking of information in a transparent and more accurate manner.
Communicate and Consolidate
Customers today are able to order your product through multiple channels: online, call centers, and mobile. They have come to demand and expect that each channel leads to them receiving their order on time. This is not possible if the communication from the initial order-to-fulfillment process is not properly organized so as to be transmitted quickly. This is why consolidating your system to a single point of access for everyone who is part of the fulfillment process is necessary. The more access points, the more chance for errors.
This is crucial. Very few things will turn a customer off from a business than not having their order fulfilled right and on time. And with the competitive nature of business today, along with the number of alternatives available to consumers, you don’t get many chances to get it right. That means real-time inventory must be synchronized with whatever order management system you have in place. This gives your business the best chance to handle orders and manage returns without delaying delivery time to your customer.
These three actions alone will go a long way to helping increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your order fulfillment process. But if your business doesn’t have the capacity or experience to implement a proper system, partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) company is the best way to ensure your fulfillment process is operating at the level you need to compete in your market.
Ways to Improve Your e-Commerce Order Fulfillment Process
One of the most important parts of supply chain management is order fulfillment. Improving the order fulfillment process means happier customers, a more productive business, and success for your company. There are several areas that, when improved, can transform your logistics services and bring you closer to your business goals.
Services such as Amazon Prime make it easier for customers to find, shop, and receive the items they want. Two-day deliveries are the new standard, and customers are often willing to pay for same-day or next-day deliveries. To reach shoppers within these tight parameters, your business may need to be equipped to ship products by air or ship products from a warehouse close to your shoppers’ locations. Spreading out warehouse locations or hiring a third-party logistics team will help you achieve those results at a much better cost.
Right Shipping Methods
Automating your processes can be as simple as investing in technology such as scanners to make inventory checks easier. Another way to improve shipping methods is to integrate your demand forecasting, sales, inventory, and logistics systems. This is another place where a 3PL logistics partnership will benefit you.
Maintaining Product Return Policy
A smooth return and refund policy will save you and your customers’ valuable time. An estimated 30% of online orders result in returns compared to the nine percent from physical stores, meaning you will need an equally efficient return process in place to manage payment refunds and reverse logistics. This can be achieved by clearly starting the policy on every product page and on your order confirmation e-mail.
Efficient Order Tracking
Manage customer expectations by order tracking and updating customers in real time. This will improve your brand’s credibility by far. According to a UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 58% of shoppers’ purchase decision in affected by their ability to view inventory availability as they browse for products online.
Let APS Fulfillment, Inc. Manage Your Supply Chain
APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a successful product fulfilment and direct mail marketing production facility. Our turnkey, state-of-the-art technology provides our customers with fast, flexible, precise, and cost-effective solutions. We have knowledge and services to make your business ventures more successful. Contact APS Fulfillment, Inc. by e-mail at [email protected] or call us at 1-(954) 582-7450.