It’s easy to get lost in the whole e-commerce cycle. There’s increasing web traffic, getting popular influencers to push your product, having a flawless frontend representation in the online store, brilliant reports for your partners, efficient documentation, abundant site content…and on it goes. But if you don’t master order fulfillment, all that will literally be for naught.
What is Order Fulfillment?
Order fulfillment covers the whole gamut of the supply chain process from getting products from manufacturing all the way into the hands of the happy customer.
Completing the whole logistics flow from start to finish in a very prompt and timely manner spells the difference between loyal customers or a ruined e-commerce business thanks to disgruntled customers ranting online.
What does Order Fulfillment look like?
It starts from inception – manufacturing – with items either made by you or shipped to you by the manufacturer.
With items on-hand, you have to process them by organizing, storing, tagging, and managing them. You need to apply SKUs or a scan-able bar code, check for damages, make sure that you have the exact physical item and number of items that you expect, then enter all the info into your system. The storage should be extremely detailed and the shelving system peculiar and accurate to let you pull out stocks in seconds when you need them.
So when your customer from the U.S. or down under confirms the order, you have to quickly take the item from its current housing, bundle it, slip in the marketing inserts, package it attractively, neatly, and consistently! – with customized touches, and make sure it has a pleasant look (and smell).
Take it a step further by including the prompts for customer feedback in your flow. Some entrepreneurs have found that including personal, thoughtful notes, even those that bravely but tactfully request for a 5-star rating, actually works.
Of course, all this takes place while syncing your actions to the cloud. Movements that are up to speed are crucial so that you can guard the process right under your nose.
Finally, you tap your favorite courier service (at this point, you would have already identified the best shipping partner with the best rates for your business), hand over the packages, track them, and they will do the rest.
The most exciting part is when your customer unboxes the item, squeals in delight, and gives public feedback or refers a friend. They make another order, repeating the whole process ad infinitum.
It’s also quite likely that there will be, for whatever reason, instances of refund and returns. It’s part of the business, so see this as not a bad thing but make provisions for it, ensuring that the logistics flow that covers this stage is just as efficient. You can salvage some parts of the item, re-use portions while getting rid of the rest.
And that’s order fulfillment in a nutshell.
Understanding this very important series of steps in the e-commerce supply chain is absolutely crucial whether you’re doing order fulfillment from your garage, your bedroom, your own warehouse, or via a fulfillment center/fulfillment company. Outsourcing the logistics process to the latter helps you save thousands of dollars and valuable man-hours by avoiding wastage and maintaining a fool-proof system that won’t let you botch any important step in the flow.
To help simplify order fulfillment, try LOCAD for your business. LOCAD is an end-to-end fulfillment solution that takes care of your storing, picking and packing, and shipping requirements so e-commerce entrepreneurs like you can focus on growing your business. With LOCAD, you can ensure that order fulfillment is done swiftly because professionals are handling your inventory. Contact us to learn more about how we can help grow your business.