You’re likely more than busy enough running your fulfillment company; after all, today’s fulfillment companies are large, multi-channel enterprises. It’s not just about taking orders and shipping them out; it’s also about delivering quality goods to loyal customers and, above all else, sustaining a high reputation.
As such, it can be difficult to keep things running smoothly. However, there are ways to make operating a fulfillment business easier. Check them out:
1. Use Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is when businesses base their prices on current demand, changing when necessary. Companies do this to help deplete excessive stock and remain competitive. If you have products that aren’t moving and want to be rid of them, offering dynamic pricing can help you sell off that stock.
2. Use Demand Sensing
It’s always tough to determine what people are going to want. This can be subverted with demand sensing, a method of forecasting based on current information. Demand sensing allows you to determine what products you should stock more of and which you shouldn’t more accurately.
3. Use On-Demand Printing
Some fulfillment companies who work with print materials are opting to add in-house printing facilities to reduce expenses. This is a good idea in theory, as you can handle everything while saving on external costs. But on the other hand, on-demand printing businesses are rather competitive, meaning they’re often willing to charge you reduced rates. Take advantage of this option if it presents itself.
4. Use Global Order Promising
Many fulfillment companies work through a variety of order channels and supply networks. Global order promising allows you to connect with multiple suppliers, ensuring you always have items in stock when needed. This avoids any issues that being out of stock of a desired product would cause.
5. Use a Third Party
When so busy that you risk being unable to keep up, it’s wise to hire a third party to perform some of the work for you. Having the option to outsource can lighten your workload significantly, allowing you to focus on keeping your operation running smoothly.
6. Use the P’s in Shipping
The P’s of shipping refers to postage and packaging. When allowing customers to make online purchases, they should have a clear indication of what their total cost will be, including these two factors. That requires you as a business to know well ahead of time what you’ll be paying for postage and packaging so your costs are balanced.
7. Use Suitable Methods of Picking Orders
The efficiency with which you pick your orders dictates how quickly you are able to have them packed and delivered. For large-volume orders, batch picking is usually the best option. This involves several orders being picked at once. For businesses that work with much lower volumes, discrete order picking usually works well. Contrary to batch orders, items in discrete order picking are selected one by one. Then there is pick-and-pass order picking, which helps cut down on the distance walked between items in the warehouse.
8. Use Accessible Methods
One way to ensure customers complete their orders is to make sure the online ordering process is made simple. Provide your customers with all the forms they need to make that step accessible. There should always be the minimum number of steps possible and customers should only be asked to provide mandatory information. Anything hampering customers from ordering, including excessive requests for information, can turn customers away from completing orders and negatively impacts your business.
9. Use a Clear and Convenient Return Policy
Returns are inevitable in almost all online businesses. Knowing this, you must find a return policy that is both fair for you and your customers. The trouble is that so many businesses today, particularly larger businesses, are offering free returns. This puts pressure on your small business to do the same. While you want to remain competitive, it’s more important to be clear and consistent with your return policy. Let your customers know upfront what they can expect. If they continue shopping on your site, they do so knowing what they can and can’t do when it comes to returning any products.
10. Use Communication Channels
Unless you’re Facebook and have a billion customers to deal with, you need to have as many channels open to communicating with your customers as possible. Posting a contact form on your site is a good start, but customers should be able to reach you by phone, e-mail, and even live chat if possible. As long as you are capable of servicing these channels effectively, you should give your customers the option.
11. Use Customs and VAT Rate Calculators
You need to be on top of any kind of rate change that will impact your fulfillment, including customs or value-added tax (VAT). The more aware you are of these changes, the more prepared you can be to adjust your own rates. This also means that you can make any adjustments to the costs incurred by your customers. You of course want to maintain a level of consistency, but when changes do arise, it’s always best to be ahead of the curve than trying to figure out ways to adjust after the fact.
Need solutions to your product fulfillment problems? APS Fulfillment, Inc. has the knowledge and services to make your direct mail and product fulfillment ventures more successful. Contact APS Fulfillment, Inc. by e-mail at [email protected], visit their web site at www.apsfulfillment.com, or phone at (954) 582-7450.