Did you know that 38% of customers never shop with a store again due to a negative delivery experience? That is why you have to develop and implement effective order fulfillment and shipping strategies.
Step-by-Step Order Fulfillment Process
During the entire order fulfillment process, you have to deal with a lot of moving parts. So, you need a proper strategy that will help you ensure efficiency, from inventory receiving to returns processing.
Step 1: Receiving
Receiving is the process of accepting incoming inventory from the supplier or manufacturer. In most cases, the key tasks include:
- Count and inspect items to ensure accuracy
- Check potential damages
- Add each new SKU to the warehouse or inventory management software
- Record each SKU number
Step 2: Inventory Storage
After receiving the inventory, the next step is to store the inventory to ensure easy picking properly. Organize the inventory to deliver speed and accuracy by using SKU in separate bins. In return, there is full visibility of available items to ship and where to find them.
Step 3: Picking
Once the order is placed, the processing starts. Picking is the first step to prepare the order for proper shipping. If inventory management is used, picking it done electronically. If manually, a paper picking list is used, including the quantity ordered and where each item is located.
Step 4: Packing
Packing is the process of wrapping all items. This step ensures that these items are protected in transit. It is critical to use the right packing materials based on the item type being ordered. These materials often include air-fill, bubble wrap, packing tape, poly bags, bubble mailers, and boxes.
Step 5: Shipping
There are several methods to ship a package, but most customers look forward to free and fast shipping. Ensure to research various shipping carriers and compare the shipping costs of each option.
Before selling products online, the seller must consider the different shipping options available. By doing so, customers can choose which one suits them according to how much they are willing to pay and how long they are willing to wait.
If the shipping is fulfilled in-house, the seller has to go to a UPS store or local post office every day to ship the recent order quickly. Shipping carriers would pick up the orders from the fulfillment center if the sellers outsourced fulfillment.
After the order is shipped, the sellers have to send the tracking information to their customers for delivery status insights.
Step 6: Returns Processing
In most cases, shoppers search for an online store’s return policy before making a purchase. Returns are also a critical part of the overall order fulfillment process.
The sellers must consider how they will process the returns quickly and effectively. That way, customers are even more encouraged to purchase from their stores once again. It also helps online stores to stay on top of their available inventory.
Best Practices for Packaging and Tracking
E-commerce increasingly becomes a competitive marketplace. So, businesses need to improve their packaging and tracking practices consistently.
With expanding supply chains with new partners and regions, companies need improved visibility to react faster to events and ensure quality. However, this expansion introduces various issues, such as accidental incidents and falsified goods, impacting customer safety. That is why effective packaging and tracking come into play to deliver reliable risk management solutions.
Companies must have a full understanding of what packaging and tracking are and how they work. For example, rather than simply tracking the movements of the products from one place to another, they can incorporate the product’s origin identification, including material or parts used in making it, through data capture, labeling, and records across the supply chain.
Effective packaging and tracking best practices enable companies to visualize the product creation on each level inside the supply chain. With improved packaging and tracking, companies are protected from different issues. The risks and consequences associated with ineffective packaging and tracking include:
- Supply chain disruption
- Safety and health issues
- Damaged reputation or brand
- Fines and penalties
- Costly and lengthy recalls
Frequent performance data analysis helps companies to identify where improvements or adjustments can be made. Delivery percentages made on time, number of customer tracking packages, and drive times can tell whether they meet the customer needs, when to adjust the processes and schedules, and where to increase efficiency. They can create and develop plans for improving the planning, management, and deployment of resources through that data.
To sum it up, order fulfillment is a complete process of receiving, packing, and shipping orders to the customer. Companies can choose to either outsource to a third-party logistics or take care of the order fulfillment in-house. It is also critical for them to follow the order fulfillment process thoroughly and consider the best practices for packaging and tracking to ensure accuracy and efficiency.