Order fulfillment is the process that involves receiving, processing, and delivering the orders sent by the end-users—the customers.
Steps of Order Fulfillment
Order Fulfilment consists of three major steps that can be further divided into sub-steps. Those three major processes are:
- Inventory Receiving
- Order Delivery
This is the first step in the entire process. Whether you outsource the order fulfillment to another company, or you do it in-house, you will have to receive the products from your manufacturer or supplier.
After the inventory has been received, the next step is to count, inspect and label it so that it can be added to your warehouse or any other storage facility. You will also add it to your warehousing management software so that you can keep track of it.
Now that you have the products in your storage units, next comes the order processing and delivery. The first step in this part is receiving the order. Once the order is received, your teams will prepare that order and go through the quality control process to make sure that it is of the highest quality. The final part is the delivery. It could be done by air, by road, or by sea depending on where the customer is and the best way of reaching the customer in time.
Here are some of the ways that your company can enhance your order fulfillment process.
1. Seamless Integration
Not many companies manufacture their own products in-house. Most businesses source their products from outside sources. There could be multiple distributors involved or just one. Whatever the case, the goods come to you and you store them and then send them to your customers.
In such cases, you need to make sure that the entire process from receiving the goods from the vendors and distributors to the delivery is as seamless as possible. You can use an order management system for this purpose. This way you will know exactly when the delivery will be made and won’t have any problem making promises to the customers.
It is also called end-to-end visibility. It means that everyone involved in the process can see everything throughout the process. Through your order management system, you and your suppliers, distributors, and vendors can easily view the situation of your inventory. You all can have access to the catalog, inventory, and the rest of the process.
It is so that all of you know which items are available to the customer and what is the remaining quantity in the warehouse. You will be able to know when a specific item is going to end and order another batch made.
That just covers one end of the end-to-end process. The other end is the customer. They should also enjoy a better level of transparency. They should be able to see your catalog, the items that are in stock, and how many are available. This clarity will be beneficial on two levels. First, it will help with your order fulfillment process and second, it will increase your customer satisfaction level.
3. The Right Shipper
Even if everything else is working just fine, this one point can ruin your entire chain or order fulfillment and irritate your customers as a result. That point is shipping. If you don’t have an excellent shipper to deliver your orders, you will see underperformance on a regular basis. It will tarnish your reputation and your brand’s loyalty will take a big pounding.
You can make sure that your shipper is offering real-time and accurate order tracking. Find out if they have had problems with the timing of shipments. Are the goods being delivered in pristine condition or not? If the answers to these questions are negative, then you need to find out another shipper. It will take some time and effort but it will help you take care of your order fulfillment issues and build your brand’s image in the long run.
4. Make Room for Exceptions
Exceptions are not your enemies, they are your friends. They only show your customers that they are really getting customized and tailored services. With end-to-end visibility, your customers know exactly what the status of their order is. If the order is delayed due to some reason, instead of just telling the customer that their order is delayed, try to find out alternate ways to get the order delivered in time. Upgrade your shipping methods or make contingency plans to ensure this.
It will cost you more than your usual order fulfillment process but at the same time, it will save you the trouble of giving explanations to the customer. It will also help customers to see how serious you are about them and delivering their orders to fulfill your promise. It will eventually increase brand loyalty and the chances of repeat purchasing.
5. Smart Warehouse Location
Nowadays, with every industry comprising of hundreds of businesses competing for the customers’ attention, the one thing that can lead to faster delivery and satisfied customers is the location of your warehouses. The closer you are to the customer, the quicker and better delivery you can make. It will leave a great impression on their minds. Everyone nowadays wants their order to be delivered as soon as possible. It will ensure that your brand is recognized for fast and reliable delivery.
You can either choose shippers and warehouses that can meet your immediate delivery requirements or you can select multiple warehouses depending on the locations where most of your customers exist to ensure fast and cheap shipping.
Take care of these points and you can ensure good quality products as well as a high-quality fulfillment process. Let’s face it: as a retailer, it’s your job to keep your online customers feeling good, throughout every step of the order process.