Order fulfillment refers to receiving, scrutinizing, packing, and shipping orders. It begins when customers order a particular product until they receive the goods. While it is the last stage of the sale process, order fulfillment can cost a business its hard-earned customers if not done strategically.
Order fulfillment is crucial for all businesses at their startup or established stages. You can successfully maneuver the order fulfillment process to finalize your sales with the above details. Reliable order management software, created and installed by reputable engineers, can take you through the entire sales journey better than you can imagine.
This blog will take you through how order fulfillment works, its importance to business, and several tips to enhance the process.
Importance of Order Fulfillment to Businesses
Besides finalizing the sales process successfully, order fulfillment enhances the customer’s shopping experience with your business while reducing costs related to pre-mature shipping. In addition, the e-commerce fulfillment services help acquire the right amount of products at all times, given that you have the orders.
Cases of under or over-selling are barely witnessed with strategic order fulfillment. As years proceed, experts keep on generating better order fulfillment strategies which generally help to reduce the operational costs for businesses while attracting more customers.
Even better, you have plenty of time to focus on growing your business rather than following up on new orders. You can never go wrong with adopting a strategic order fulfillment procedure for your business.
How Does Order Fulfillment Work?
As highlighted earlier, order fulfillment is a gradual process from when an order is made to when the product reaches the customer. It involves engaging and coordinating various departments and other partners for a unified performance toward achieving your customers’ needs.
Receiving the Client’s Inventory
The most common types of order fulfillment are hybrid, drop shipping, third-party, and in-house. To fulfill a customer’s order, the business receives the inventory (in case the products come from a third party, warehouse, or different department), counts critically, inspects, and records against the received order and amount received.
Inspection of the Goods
The inspection involves checking the products’ quality and condition against the customer’s order. The business can change the inventory to replace broken goods at this stage. The next stage is inventory storage, where the received, counted, and inspected goods are stored either short or long-term, awaiting their disbursement.
Storage and Packing of the Goods
Other businesses immediately disburse the goods depending on their culture and the customer’s specifications. The storage period mainly offers adequate business time to organize existing orders and sales distribution.
When the storage period ends, the business processes the order, clarifying how the products will be picked and packed. The picking team chooses the pieces from the warehouse and packs them as prescribed.
Most packing slips or manuals clarify the colour of the products, size, number of pieces ordered, and where the customers should pick them up. The packing team also inserts extra shipping materials in the package if the customer wishes to return or exchange the product(s).
Thanks to advanced technology, many organizations use automated robots to pick and pack orders, speeding up the order fulfillment process and lowering operational costs. The packed goods are then shipped for delivery. Most carriers and shippers mainly measure the weight of the actual package to come up with its costs.
Shipping and Delivery of the Goods
The shippers deliver the products to the specified location within a stipulated period which the customer will pick. Most distribution warehouses usually notify the careers and shippers that the package has been successfully delivered and picked up.
The final process is order-returning when the customer wishes to exchange or return the products, which involves re-packaging them in the provided materials, accompanied by a return label. Returned orders are either shipped back to the supplier or recycled, winning the customer a refund.
Which Are Some Common Challenges Encountered During Order Fulfillment?
Like any other matter in business, order fulfillment doesn’t go without particular challenges, most of which can be prevented and worked out. The most common ones include running out of stock, holding too much stock with few orders, and broken, missing, malfunctioning, or damaged products that require replacement or repair.
Moreover, a supply chain model can break down, leading to shipping delays. Even so, business owners can confidently fight these challenges by implementing various tips and having a reliable management team.
How to Tackle Order Fulfillment for Your Business Strategically
Every step in making sales should be performed carefully, whether on the genesis or final lap. Order fulfillment can pose many challenges to a business if not undertaken well and strategically. You should organize the warehouse well for easier picking and packing to save time and costs for other business matters.
Additionally, constantly engage your vendors, suppliers, shipping, and logistic departments to stay updated on shipping costs, requirements changes, and the condition of products awaiting orders.
Automating the order fulfillment process, such as employing robots and various software applications, enhances working conditions and improves order delivery. Lastly, ensure you tackle order fulfillment by starting with the older orders as you proceed to the new ones to prevent long waiting periods and backlogs.