How do you improve your eCommerce order fulfillment process?

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Fulfillment is one of the most crucial aspects of a successful eCommerce business. If you can't fulfill your product fast enough then your visitors would simply buy something similar on Amazon or on another company's site that can guarantee fast delivery. Optimizing your fulfillment process is key to delivering the perfect post-purchase experience.

Here are the steps you need to take to improve your fulfillment process

Understand your order fulfillment cycle time

The first step is to understand your fulfillment cycle and the time it takes for a package to go from order to delivery. Look at the entire process and see how long everything takes. Here’s a general idea of the delivery and fulfillment process: 

  1. Receive online order
  2. Process the order
  3. Notify the customer that the order has been received
  4. Send fulfillment request to the warehouse
  5. Order is picked
  6. Order is packed
  7. Order is shipped
  8. Send a shipment notification to the customer
  9. Order arrives

So how do you optimize the process? Here are a few things you could do. 

Ensure a seamless integration

First, ensure that all your systems and process are integrated and work well together. You don’t want to have a lag between receiving the order and shipping. You want to use software that does the job, and you might even want to set up some automatic rules that move the order along without any manual involvement on your part. 

Use an order management system that integrates with your eCommerce website as well as all the warehouses and shipping carriers that you use. 

Use safety stock

You always want to carry enough supplies and products to make sure that you don’t run out of inventory. That’s why you should use safety stock which is when you always have a set amount of stock for each product. 

Safety stock helps you absorb any variations in demand that you may have throughout the year. The challenge here is that you don’t want to keep too much inventory in stock because it will start affecting your costs. So don’t use the average demand throughout the year but calculate the demand based on specific time periods so you could better estimate how much stock you need to have available. 

Have end-to-end order visibility

You’ve connected all of your processes into the OMS and you’ve automated your order management. You’ve even put some safety stock rules. Now what you need is to be able to see the entire process from start to finish. 

You need visibility throughout your entire supply chain. You need to see where items are in the process, how much inventory you have for each product, and be able to get feedback from customers about the quality of your product. 

Transparency and visibility are key.

Communicate with your customer

One of the best ways to improve your fulfillment process is to better serve your customer, set expectation, and communicate often. Make sure that every customer touchpoint is automated through email and SMS communication. 

You can use Zapier to connect your email tool to your order management system to make that communication even more precise and helpful for the customer. 

Have a strong return and refund policy

Refunds and returns are an essential part of every eCommerce operation. Customers can’t try products in a store so they often order the wrong size or the wrong product. Studies show that 25% customers return between 5% and 15% of the items they buy online. 

You should have a very clear return and refund policy and communicate that with the customer. And don’t make a big deal when a customer wants to return their product or asks you to refund their order. 

Everytime you provide a stellar customer experience you are building your brand reputation and growing your sales in the long-term. 

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