For businesses that rely mostly on their brick-and-mortar establishments, order fulfillment through their website counterpart is just a supplement to their main activities. But for full-fledged eCommerce sites, order fulfillment is the business’s bread and butter. It isn’t just products that make these businesses competitive—the efficiency, timeliness, and reliability of their order fulfillment matter just as much. That means that all the steps in the process—receiving orders, managing inventory, packaging items, and shipping—should result in airtight eCommerce fulfillment.
Any weaknesses in your order fulfillment protocols could result in big mistakes like wrong orders, product damage, and shipment delays. These mistakes could add up and lose you a large chunk of your customers’ support forever. But the opposite also applies. When you’ve mastered order fulfillment, your eCommerce business will have gained customers for life.
So if you need tips on achieving efficient ecommerce fulfillment, this article will prove useful. Increase the value of your eCommerce site by strengthening each aspect of your order fulfillment.
In-House vs. Third-Party Solutions: Decide Who Will Handle Your Order Fulfillment
Smaller ecommerce businesses usually start out doing most of their order fulfillment in-house. This option is fine for you if you have all your inventory on hand and a means to manage it. It will also continue to work for you if your company’s order fulfillment infrastructure is good enough for its size.
But what if this is no longer the case for you, and you need help in managing a surge of orders? That’s when you can consider getting a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Their knowledge and systems may be just what you need to keep your ecommerce business growth sustainable.
Implement Best Practices for Inventory Storage
Even before an order for an item comes through, it should already be stored in a designated place and ready for shipment. That means it has to be part of an organized inventory system.
Basic best practices will count for a lot, whether it’s you or a 3PL provider that will be carrying them out. Some that you should follow are:
- Keeping track of distinct product names and SKUs
- Designating a proper space for them in your storage facility (for example in a separate room, shelf, or bin)
- Making sure each product is safe, dry, protected, and easy to find before it’s packed
Pack for the Best Unboxing Experience
There are lots of aspects you need to pay attention to with regard to packing your products. They include deciding the right size of the box per shipment, the addition of protective linings like bubble wrap or foam padding, and the like. Keep track of what’s best for certain products, plus what’s most cost-efficient for you.
You can also use the packing process to achieve customized or branded packaging. Customers can be given the option to decide on extra packaging details as part of their order fulfillment. If these are carried out, you’ll deliver a memorable unboxing experience that will keep a customer loyal to you.
Integrate Your Deliveries
To better optimize your deliveries, get your order fulfillment system to fully integrate with your ecommerce site. For one, it could help you track your orders more closely. For another, it could give you the added function of auto-generating shipment labels. The labels can contain the order’s cost, shipping time, and geographical area, and this can make the shipping faster and more efficient.
Listen to Your Customers
Lastly, even if you have a good ecommerce order fulfillment system up, be prepared for the occasional hiccup. Mistakes are inevitable, especially when you’re making drastic changes to the system. What matters is that you learn how to deal with them and take the opportunity to turn them around.
Be responsive and accommodating to your customers if they are ever on the receiving end of your mistake. Use the experience to get better at returns, which relates closely to regular order fulfillment. The better you get at handling mistakes and responding to customers, the easier it will be to address pain points in your order fulfillment.
In summary, order fulfillment is as important to your success as your products are. Sell your customers on how well you handle orders, packaging, and shipment, and you’ll have gotten them for the long haul.