eCommerce Order Fulfilment is the process by which online retailers get their goods from the warehouse to their customers, once an order has been placed. The process includes a number of steps, each of them with its own series of best practices. That’s why we’ve broken down the process of order fulfilment into five basic steps, with some recommendations for how to maximise efficiency in each.
For an eCommerce company, there are basically two options for handling inventory received from manufacturers and suppliers. First, if you have access to a warehouse, you could receive and store inventory in-house. Alternatively, you could make use of the services of an eCommerce order fulfilment outsourcer.
If you opt for the first model, your business will be responsible for all of the tasks associated with receiving inventory, including the following:
If you decide to outsource your order fulfilment, on the other hand, all these tasks will be handled for you. You’ll pay one lump sum, and the eCommerce order fulfilment company will take care of your inventory receiving needs.
If you’ve chosen to keep your order fulfilment in-house, you’ll have another slate of tasks awaiting you once the inventory has been received, inspected, labelled, and input into your inventory management software. Namely, you’ll have to shelve the inventory, and keep track of it so that you can ship it without delay when customer orders come in.
Veeqo now offers an inventory management app so you can scan your items as soon as they arrive from your phone
Experts agree that getting this step right is one of the biggest factors in decreasing costs and saving time during the order fulfilment process. Mistakes with regard to storage of inventory can lead to major lags in the distribution process and can cost you money, time, and customer satisfaction if you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing.
If you decide not to, however, you should consider the following:
Once you’re set up to distribute inventory, the next step is order processing. This stage of the eCommerce Order Fulfilment process needs to be a well-oiled machine otherwise you’ll lose valuable time and money. As with other steps, if you use an order fulfilment provider, the nitty-gritty of efficient order processing is another thing you won’t have to worry about. If you keep it in house, however, there are some things you’ll want to consider:
Contracting with the experts in moving your inventory is especially worthwhile when you’ve begun to ship 10-20 parcels per day. Once your volume gets up that high, it’s important to find a multi-carrier solution to your shipping needs.
This will save you loads of both time and money, since often the key to efficient and cost-effective shipping is deciding which carrier and service is best for each individual order, and there are endless carriers each with multiple services.
A clear and efficient returns policy is an often-overlooked component of eCommerce order fulfilment. For many buyers the prospect of being able to return an item easily is a major factor in the purchase. Zappos, for example, has long claimed that its best customers are also the ones who return the most items.
The returns policy at your eCommerce company needs to be crystal clear to the buyer, but also to your staff and fulfilment provider, if you have one. That means that you need to have designed, not only clear criteria for returns, but also a straightforward process for receiving, replacing, and reimbursing returned items.
Ideally this process will be automated and tied in to your order process management system and fulfilment software.
This is a post from Simon Wright who is the marketing manager of Parcelhub
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