What is an order fulfillment: the 6-step process, and How to Make Improvements?
These days, traditional purchasing methods are becoming obsolete, and people are more inclined towards online shopping. Hence, order fulfillment practices along with in-store customer services are vital for an e-commerce business to grow. From the customer’s perspective, order fulfillment is just a simple event; they receive the order at their doorstep. However, it is vast for companies as it involves several back-end operations to provide a high-end experience to the customers. For additional reading, look at the explanation given beneath, which explains the working of order fulfillment, and how you can improve in it.
What is order fulfillment?
Order fulfillment is a method for e-commerce businesses to receive and complete customer requests for goods. Order fulfillment involves handing out orders on time, on the customer’s doorstep. Many businesses are now opting to invest in order fulfillment software because it includes advanced AI integrations that automate manual tasks and processes. As a result, you stay focused on the most profitable aspects of your business with peace of mind.
Mainly, it comprises six stages, which are mentioned below
Receiving here means the process of collecting the products from the manufacturers or suppliers at fulfillment centers. The retail workers count and inspect thoroughly for any damage to ordered items. In addition, they create a stock-keeping unit for received products. Further, they enlist the entry of products in fulfillment-center management software.
Organizing and storage
Once the retailer receives the intended inventory at the center, the next step is to organize it properly. Stock management is critical for ensuring that orders are pick quickly and accurately.
The proper organization means clear visibility of products. Hence, workers will not panic as they can easily pick available products; know their quantity and exact place resulting in work efficiency. Stacking orders on shelves should be done in a systematic way: set up shipment, packing, and receiving orders near the front door.
When a customer places the order online, fulfillment begins officially, and the pickers will get an alert notification automatically about every request. The employee in the center locates the item on the shelves; manually picks it up with the help of a list including details of all placed products.
In addition, the modern inventory management system shows the item’s location and brings up-to-date stock quantities to reveal the departing orders of the products. Invoices are print out, or electronically lists are made to put the record on the list about the pickups, which eliminates confusion and ensures precision work.
Before the shipping process, the product is carefully packed and then pick quickly from the center. The worker collects the order, which is carefully wrapped before being shipped.
Workers at the center choose the packaging material based on the type of product that is fragile, heavy, or customized. Wrapping materials include bubble wraps, tissue papers, foils, rigid boxes, poly bags, and more. Additionally, invoices with order details are pasted on the wrapper before sealing it.
Once properly seal and label, the package is sent to its final destination. Depending on the budget of the company, businesspersons can choose different forms of conveyance. However, they should also keep customer requests in mind as they constantly seek quick and free delivery.
You can choose an in-house delivery method if you are able to afford distribution through a post office or UPS store, otherwise, you can hire a private vehicle to pick it up from the store and ship it.
As a retailer, you can expect the return of items from customers due to many reasons like dissatisfaction or damage. Before shipping the order, you must clarify your return policy to the customers; when and how customers can begin the return process. Companies need to implement the strategy to accept returning products, placing them back in inventory, and for re-shipment.
How to make Improvements in order fulfillment:
Analysis of order fulfillment
Each customer does have different requests, and you must categorize the customers conferring to applicable standards. It will help you to simplify the delivery of various services and customers can know what they are expecting beforehand. Categorizing such as customization for special orders will save time and efforts for you and it will simply display the types of services you can deliver to the customers. Further, you can opt to subdivide orders, streamline business processes, or reduce steps of business operations.
Moreover, you can choose the order fulfillment mode depending on the vastness of the business and wisely build a relationship with external transportation units to make the process hassle-free. Overall, preparation and management in the process will eliminate any mistakes, thus making your work efficient.
Robust information system
The e-commerce business must clear up the following factors while preparing orders to run the process smoothly and give the best experience to customers:
- Customer’s online consumer credit
- Price policy
- Different payment methods like cash, check, net banking
- Classifying Order types like urgent or customized
- Delivery addresses confirmation, time, and fulfillment of special needs.
- Answering queries and order cancellation
- Tracking time and information like the order number, manufacturer, date of delivery, invoices, etc.
If the mentioned points are overlook, they become a hurdle for fulfilling orders in time and may generate bad reviews for the business.
E-commerce businesses can automate many stages of the process with modern software like inventory management, ordering, list generation, and return management. The companies can mechanize repetitive tasks, therefore lowering labor costs and human errors. Moreover, using updated technology will save time and can manage the process well.
The easiest way to improve and hasten the order fulfillment process is subcontracting. However, it is more suitable if you have reached a high level of growth. You can collaborate with a provider to make the process hassle-free and cost-effective.
In the end, the superior the order fulfillment process, the better the customer’s experience, loyalty, brand impression, revenues generated, and overall e-commerce business success.