Recently online marketing has gained maximum exposure and a big market share in retail sales. As internet access and adoption increase, the number of online buyers keeps on rising. According to Statista, over two billion shoppers purchased goods online, and retail sales increased significantly.
Nevertheless, order fulfillment services play a crucial role in e-commerce and are an excellent way of improving customer satisfaction. For the smooth running of your e-commerce business, you shouldn’t just rely on the quality of services but also customer services and order fulfillment. There are different order fulfillment solutions, and optimizing the services will benefit your store in myriad ways.
What’s an order fulfillment center & how does it operate
An order Fulfillment Center is a facility location that a seller or business owner hires for outsourcing their fulfillment. The facility can be used by different types of businesses but is common in e-commerce stores and other companies with limited space.
It involves a third-party logistics provider who fulfills customer orders placed in an e-commerce store. The primary role of a fulfillment center is to manage and store the seller’s inventory and ship orders directly to clients. Moreover, it helps in order fulfillment and managing the fulfillment operations.
How does it work? An order fulfillment center involves multiple processes and logistics to deliver a seller’s products to the client. The fulfillment process includes storing inventory at the fulfillment center while awaiting fulfillment. When a customer purchases a product, the inventory is packed and prepared for shipment.
Is a fulfillment center different from a warehouse?
The two terms are common in order fulfillment but are quite different. A warehouse acts as an inventory store, while an order fulfillment facility enhances customer experience throughout the ordering process, storing, packing, and shipping the products to the customer. Although a fulfillment facility stores the inventory, just like a warehouse, the services improve efficiency during shipment and save time and costs.
The two terms are common in order fulfillment but are quite different. A warehouse acts as an inventory store, while a 3PL fulfillment facility enhances customer experience throughout the ordering process, storing, packing, and shipping the products to the customer. Although a fulfillment facility stores the inventory, just like a warehouse, the services improve efficiency during shipment and save time and costs.
Read Here- Best Corporate Finance Textbooks
How can you optimize order fulfillment in an e-Commerce store?
1. Choose warehouses wisely
Every buyer wants their orders delivered promptly. To speed up the delivery processes, use a warehouse close to the client’s geographical location. This allows you to deliver goods in less time and lowers shipping costs. Moreover, engage a fulfillment facility offering fast delivery services ad methods. Shipping algorithms are also worth considering; this helps determine the most suitable delivery method.
2. Understand the order fulfillment cycle time
Understanding the order fulfillment cycle time is critical in order fulfillment. It gives you an idea on how the effectiveness of the process and how it affects customer satisfaction in your business. Although some aspects can lengthen the order fulfillment time, aim to keep the cycle short for improved customer satisfaction.
To understand the order fulfillment time cycle, the essential metrics to understand are;
- Promised customer order cycle time
- Actual customer order cycle time
- Cash to cash cycle time
- Supply chain cycle time
These will help you identify the areas that you need to improve on.
3. Automation works!
Manual data entry can be tedious and time-consuming. The order fulfillment process involves multiple repetitive tasks, and investing in automation software will ease the process.
Automation will also improve productivity, minimize errors and enhance efficiency. Since the software will handle most of the tasks, you’ll have time to focus more on improving customer satisfaction during order delivery and fulfillment.
4. Have spare safety stock
Running out of stock can be a put-off to customers. To reduce this risk, set aside stock to cushion you against sudden spikes in demand and orders. But, the amount of safety stock will depend on the product’s expiry dates and storage costs. To determine the exact amount of goods that you can hold, use statistical approaches and past data. And this will inform you of past demand spikes.
5. Establish a communication channel with customers
Constant communication with customers will keep them updated about their orders. Convey accurate order information and keep updating the client until the ordered items reach the delivery point. Also, inform clients how to contact you in case of delays or questions regarding the order.
6. Have an effective return process& policy
Not everyone will be satisfied with your products, and some clients may want to return, exchange the product or seek a refund. Therefore, identify your customer’s needs need and implement a return policy to enhance customer satisfaction. This will motivate shoppers to buy from you, knowing that it’s easy to exchange or return orders if dissatisfied.
The bottom line
Order fulfillment is a critical process in e-Commerce. Find a reliable fulfillment company and enjoy improved customer satisfaction. Outsourcing order fulfillment services will benefit your business in many ways. It allows you ample time to focus on your business and grow your client base. Also, you won’t bother about hiring a warehouse or training workers. To get the most out of the order fulfillment facility, consider the ideas mentioned above.