Order fulfillment helps entrepreneurs to save on recurring expenditures. The saving is mostly in the part for transportation and storage. Fulfillment centers are a very important part of a business supply chain as they offer a centralized location that makes it possible for customer orders to be delivered on time. Basically, they facilitate picking, packaging, and shipping the orders to the recipients.
Different types of fulfillment centers
It’s possible for entrepreneurs today to run businesses without the need of having a physical storage space. This is a less hectic way of doing business that eliminates inventory management and other related costs.
Order fulfillment can either be in-house or outsourced and there are quite a number of factors that one needs to consider before settling for one. Some of the factors to put into consideration are time, budget, and workflow.
Generally, there are two main types of fulfillment centers:
- Business to customer – B2C
This business model involves picking up the order from the supplier, packing it and then later sending it to the customer.
- Direct to customer – D2C
This is quite common especially for online businesses since they don’t incur any storage fees. The customer makes an order and the products are shipped directly to them from the warehouse.
It’s important to note that some entrepreneurs combine both business models and it still works just fine.
The order fulfillment process
Have you ever paid much thought on how a product is delivered to you after you make an order online? There are quite a number of steps that all come together to make up the fulfillment process. They are:
For orders to be fulfilled, you will need inventory in the warehouse. Here the inventory will be checked for things like damage and quantity.
If the orders are to be fulfilled in-hose, the inventory should be on-hand and if the fulfillment is outsourced then the inventory is sent to the third party who will fulfill the orders for you.
This is a really important step in the entire process. Be very careful about picking the correct item and in the right quantity because if anything is messed up from here then the entire process gets messed up. Sending the customer the wrong items leads to negative customer satisfaction and ultimately, loses for the company.
Ensure that all the items are wrapped in the correct material and packed in the right shipping boxes.
When you’re done packing, add a shipping label to the package.
Give your customers the chance to choose between different shipping options. While some may prefer to use a fast company with higher costs, others will prefer to use a slower shipping company with lower costs.
After the order has been shipped out, tracking information should be shared with customers so that they stay up-to-date with the delivery.
Have policies in place about processing returned orders. Will the items be shipped to you or the fulfillment provider? Is the item still in good condition? If yes, then it’s restocked as available inventory.
Winning Customer Loyalty With Order Fulfillment
For starters, you will need to have a good plan in place. Determine how much storage space you’re going to need for easy sorting, picking, packing, and shipping. This will save your employees so much time and maximize efficiency.
Whenever possible, it would really help to automate some processes to reduce human errors.
Every once in a while you should check that everything is running well. Ensure that the storage space is still enough, the orders are up-to-date, and that there’s no misplaced inventory.