Have you ever ordered something from an order fulfillment center and had a bad delivery experience? If yes, you better understand the feelings of a customer when his/her order is lost, late, or damaged. Think to yourself, having such a bad experience, will you be going to make a purchase again from the same seller? In most cases, people say no. It has been proved in research done by Metapack, according to this, approximately 38% of consumers deny to shop again with a retailer following a negative delivery experience.
All these show the importance of order fulfillment strategy for your own eCommerce brand. With this article, we will help you to understand everything about order fulfillment and its key stages. Also, you will explore why it is crucial to take help from an order fulfillment center. So, without any further delay, let’s start the session.
What is order fulfillment center?
Order fulfillment involves the complete process that is when a customer orders something to which he/she receives the delivery accurately. In this process, all the important aspects are covered like receiving, processing, and delivering the products. Depending upon the requirement of ecommerce businesses, they either choose to do this work on their own or outsource their work to an order fulfillment center. It is also seen in many pieces of research that successful order fulfillment happens when it is done by any outsourcing firm. It is because they have experienced professionals who take care of minute details. This omits the risk of any damage and mistakes. However, for staying in competition and building customer loyalty, a well-planned retail order fulfillment strategy is crucial.
Steps of eCommerce Order Fulfillment Center
The first and foremost step involved in order fulfillment is warehousing or a place where one can store the products. This process involves the storage of all the products of an eCommerce brand in such a way that these are organized and can be accessed easily. With warehousing, it becomes easy for you to store your products in a single place without any confusion. It reduces the burden of maintaining a proper record of your inventory. You can always take help from a recognized order fulfillment center.
Warehousing also speeds up the process of order fulfillment as now you have an inventory that is arranged in proper shelves. This reduces your time of finding products. Make sure to optimize your warehouse space to fit in all the products.
This step can be placed anywhere on the first and second position as it is an ongoing process. With the inventory management step, you will have a complete understanding of all your stocks before processing any order. In this, you will be maintaining a record of all your products and can stay updated about the products that are about to become out of stock. In such situations, you can immediately order more and replenish your inventory.
When outsourcing the order fulfillment process, the company will perform regular audits to make sure the proper implementation of the strategy. For better management of your products, you can also plan to deploy an inventory management system. It is your duty to check the products are in their original shapes and not damaged. If you found any, make sure to start the process for purchasing the new ones.
In order to start fulfilling the order, it is important that your third-party logistics have your inventory in-hand. Here receiving means the acceptance and storage of incoming products at the order fulfillment center. This is the reason why this step runs parallel to the inventory management step. Well, different third-party logistics have different processes for receiving and storing inventory, but most of them involve the submission of documents from the merchants. This maintains the proper flow of shipping and the process for placing orders can start shipping sooner.
It is up to you, either you can start accepting the orders manually or attach your marketplace or cart with software to directly fetch orders from your shop. Make sure to sort the orders as per their delivery dates. If an order is to be placed in one day, keep it on top priority.
With a sorted warehouse, you can make the complicated process of picking much easier and simpler. In this process, you will be finding the product ordered by the customer by thoroughly scanning the warehouse. When an order is seen in a third-party logistics system, it is quickly assigned to the picking team involved in these tasks. If you are an established brand and generally receive huge orders then it is suggested to work with dedicated staff for warehousing logistics. This way you can accelerate the fulfillment process and save a lot of time and cost as the procedure is completely streamlined.
Batch picking is considered the best method for order picking. In this process, several orders are grouped into small batches as per their characteristics and similar features. You should also think about adding automation and technology in the picking process for speeding up the work.
Once orders are picked, start packing them securely. As it will be the first impression of your brand to the customer, it should be done with much care. Make sure to check different types of packaging and then decide what works best for your brand. If you are in the position to afford customized packaging, we recommend you definitely opt for that. If not, then you can select the sturdy but straightforward packaging. Whatever you are going to select, make sure that the product is perfectly packed, labeled, and complies with the standard of several courier companies.
If you want to transform your customer into a buyer, shipping is the only way to do so. If there are any preferred carriers whom you have already partnered with, try to negotiate a bit. On the other hand, you can also select one among different courier companies by comparing their rates and feedback from previous clients. For providing an amazing experience to your customers, make sure to add different options for payments. It can be in the form of COD, prepayment, payment through online platforms with multiple coupons, etc.