Tips For Businesses: In the consumer-driven economic landscape of the modern era, around 63 percent of consumers believe they expect the delivery times of their order to be no more than three days. To accomplish this, retailers and eCommerce stores are now putting considerable focus and effort into ensuring their supply chain and fulfillment processes run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
In times where Amazon continues to be king, and other companies try to keep up with it, online stores and companies must be on their toes constantly. They must find ways to improve their customer experience, reduce expenses, and improve their overall business operations to stay relevant in today’s competitive marketplace. Evaluating your existing order fulfillment processes will ensure that you meet your customers’ expectations and your products arrive at their doorsteps on time. If you cannot meet these expectations, then you’ll undoubtedly risk losing your customers to your competitors.
Inefficient fulfillment processes like outdated technology, inaccurate inventory, and slow restocking can cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars and result in reduced profit margins. Listed below are a few tips that will allow you to enhance your order fulfillment, ensuring your customers remain satisfied for a long time.
Outsource fulfillment to a third-party logistics provider
Outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics service ensures that you get the help and support required to complete orders efficiently. These service providers are experts in every order fulfillment area, including global shipping services. Additionally, they have a highly trained workforce to pick, pack, and ship all your orders on time.
An excellent third-party logistics service will be a vital member of your order fulfillment team and help you establish effective and efficient strategies. It will ultimately allow you to avoid unnecessary error-related costs, prevent stockouts, and reduce backorders and delays.
Ensure inventory accuracy
If your inventory numbers are inaccurate, chances are you’ll never be able to package, pick, store, and ship all your orders on time. Partners and customers expect that you provide them with real-time information about what’s in stock. For instance, if you don’t update your website with accurate inventory numbers, it can lead to stockouts, backorders, or dead stock issues. And what’s worse is that this can cause your customers to look for products elsewhere.
Some ways to ensure that your inventory reflects what you currently have in stock include performing cycle counts, spot checks, and accurate labeling and naming practices. You can also take advantage of an IMS (inventory management system) and a WMS (warehouse management system) to reduce human error by eliminating manual inventory entry.
Optimize your warehouse’s layout
The way your business lays out its warehouse will have a colossal impact on your order fulfillment process’s efficiency. From the first step of accepting an online order to the last one of shipping goods to your customers, create a warehouse layout that allows you to optimize workflow in every area. Doing such a thing will enable you to reduce supply chain issues and eliminate inefficiencies in your order fulfillment process.
Contact a warehouse layout specialist if you feel that your fulfillment space requires an update in its layout. Doing so will allow you to store products more efficiently without buying or renting more storage space.
Reduce handling and ‘touching’
It is of utmost importance to monitor the number of times your warehouse workers handle a particular item inside your fulfillment center. The higher the frequency of workers touching products physically, the more the chances of mishandling and human error. Such a thing can result in products getting shipped to the wrong customers, lost, and other related errors.
Furthermore, reducing product handling also lowers the chance of item damage or theft while increasing the speed and efficiency of the entire fulfillment process. Whether it be a human packaging an item, a pallet transporting it, or a robot automatically picking out products, you can consider all of these as a ‘touch’ in the fulfillment lifecycle.
The process of organizing your fulfillment center’s or warehouse’s inventory before it gets processed, picked, or fulfilled is known as slotting. When you optimize your slotting, it can result in a more efficient fulfillment process by introducing small, cost-effective changes.
Minor adjustments such as storing your best-selling items inside slots at arm’s reach will improve your order fulfillment process tenfold. That said, you must always view slotting as a vital step in your overall fulfillment process. Ensure that you follow slotting best practices that will allow you to ship products in as little time as possible.
Introduce a predictable order fulfillment process
When you have an order fulfillment process that constantly changes from day to day or week to week, inaccuracies and efficiencies will always occur. Plus, you will also experience increased operational and labor costs, understock, and overstocking. Investing in an excellent OMS (order management system) will enable you to track, predict, and automate your entire order fulfillment process. It will remove any inconsistencies from the process and make it far less unpredictable.
Furthermore, automation is the way of the future in the logistics and warehousing world. And it will only grow more as time passes. When you automate your order fulfillment process, you will improve inventory, stocking, packaging, and shipping accuracy. This will save you countless hours and headaches in the long haul.
Introduce employee training initiatives
There is no doubt that your first and last line of defense in your order fulfillment process is your employees. Not every eCommerce store will have the budget to automate their order fulfillment process. For businesses such as these, training warehouse employees is the best option to ensure a smooth order fulfillment process.
You need to train your warehouse employees regularly. Plus, some of your experienced employees might also require training to provide them with a refresher on using the latest warehousing technologies. Also, don’t forget to send them out to off-site training opportunities. Doing so will allow them to see how order fulfillment works outside their place of employment. Regular training and refresher courses are crucial for warehouse workers to ensure they remain as productive and efficient as possible.
Creating an efficient and employee-friendly order fulfillment process should be the topmost priority if you run a business that regularly ships out products. With the help of some accurate planning and efficient practices, you can reduce some of the most time-consuming and costly aspects of order fulfillment. Train your employees with the latest order fulfillment technologies and ensure all the suitable systems are in place. When you do so, there will be fewer human errors and inventory issues. There will also be more satisfied customers and better sales.