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Improve Your eCommerce Stores  Order Fulfillment Process

Improve Your eCommerce Stores Order Fulfillment Process

Posted on June 15, 2022

Improve Your eCommerce Stores Order Fulfillment Process

Ordering online is now becoming as common as shopping in brick and mortar stores used to be. Everyone does it… not everyone likes waiting though. Amazon has ruined us with their same day or two day shipping. How to compete with that?

The good news is you don’t have to compete with it if your fulfillment operates efficiently. Not everyone shops at Amazon, your store has better service, selection and the shipping is relatively quick, right?

If not, here’s a few things we can do. Let’s look at a typical process…

  • The customer places an order
  • The company process the order in their back-office system and notifies the customer that the order has been received
  • Send fulfillment request to the warehouse
  • The order is picked and packed
  • Order is shipped, and a shipping notification is sent to the customer
  • Order arrives at the location of the customer’s choice on time

Simple right? If your process works like this consistently, you’ll have nothing but rave reviews.

The Fulfillment Cycle

A fulfillment cycle that takes days or weeks is not good. If I wanted to wait a week I’d go to Walmart and look at their empty shelves.

That said, here’s how you can understand your order fulfillment:

  • Expected fulfillment time  This refers to the order fulfillment time you promise your customers, which is most likely outlined in your Shipping Policy.
  • Actual order fulfillment time  What is the average time it took for a customer to receive an item after ordering on your website?
  • Supply chain cycle time — How long does it take to fulfill an order if you have to order raw materials? Thanks to Covid, probably a loooong time.

Understanding your order fulfillment cycle time will help you identify any problems or shortcomings in your process and give you an idea of what to tweak or modify to make it run smoother.

Product Descriptions

Unlike brick and mortar stores where people can “kick the tires” and enjoy a hands on experience with the product, customers need to trust you before purchasing from your online store. Having enough product details will help customers get comfortable with the product and have the confidence to buy from you.

Additionally, you need to ensure that the inventory information on your ecommerce website is correct. What you indicate on your website should be available in stock. This way, you won’t inform customers (days after) that their purchase is in backorder, which is a quick way to lose them.

Again, thanks Covid for making the supply chain issue so insane and causing the prevalence of Out Of Stock badges on so many products.

Organize your inventory

Another great way to improve your order fulfillment is by organizing your inventory. One way to organize your warehouse is to arrange stock according to demand. This helps because…

  • Easier to visually see and maintain stock for popular products
  • Makes picking your product smoother
  • Significantly reduce order processing time, improving your order fulfillment process.

Automate your order fulfillment process

Amazon has robots. Don’t you?

I’m assuming you don’t, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to make the process easier.

This is especially the case if you have orders coming in from different channels. With a standard automated fulfillment process, fulfilling these orders is straightforward.

This is where a good payment processor and shipping company can work together to help those of us without robots. Research different companies to see if there is a standout that can help with order fulfillment.

The right shipper

Now that we have your warehouse running smoothly, let’s look at the major stumbling block, the source of most of our pain with regards to our ecommerce experience — the shipping.

Again, Amazon has “spoiled” customers with its one-day, two-day, or even same-day shipping. Even if you cannot offer these levels of delivery speeds to your customers, you need to choose an excellent and efficient shipper.

Delivery times are among the major determiners in customer decision-making for ecommerce orders. If possible, work with a shipper who can guarantee two-day shipping. The most important thing is to ensure that your shipper offers real-time and accurate order tracking.

The dreaded returns

You cannot completely avoid getting returns. However, the process can be less painful if you plan for it from the beginning. Ensuring that returned items get back into your inventory (if applicable) as quickly as possible helps in two ways: Firstly, it allows customers to return damaged items back to you easily and secondly, it reduces problems in your fulfillment chain — you won’t over-order on stock or reject orders thinking you don’t have the item in stock.

Communication

Last but not least, you need to communicate with your customer throughout the entire process. And we don’t just mean informing your customer that their order has been received. But rather on-demand, up-to-date, and real-time updates regarding the order status, including when the order is received, in process, shipping, and when the item is delivered.

The bottom line is to ensure that your customer knows what is happening regarding their order and create a more transparent order fulfillment process for more customer satisfaction.