Customer expectations around the speed and cost of shipping fulfillment are constantly changing as large retailers such as Amazon Prime and Walmart, just to name a few, have started to offer free 2-day shipping.
As consumers, when we want something, we want it now.
As sellers, fulfilling those demands is easier said than done.
Most people don’t realize just how much of an impact the order fulfillment process has on the bottom line of an ecommerce business. While it may not be the most glamorous function, it can make or break a company. It’s never been more important to get ecommerce order fulfillment right.
- 61% of shoppers will abandon their cart if shipping, taxes, and other fees are too high.
- 53% of shoppers say that speed of delivery is an important factor when it comes to evaluating their online orders.
- 38% of shoppers will never shop with a retailer again if they had a poor delivery experience.
- 25% of shoppers have canceled an order because of slow delivery speeds.
Getting ecommerce order fulfillment right has never been more important
With some help, getting ecommerce order fulfillment right has never been easier. The best place to start is understanding how it all works.
The Order Fulfillment Process
Whether your eCommerce fulfillment process is done in-house or taken out of house, the process remains focused on storing inventory, picking & packing products, and shipping online orders to the customer. Third-party logistics (3PL) companies exist to help you get the process done right and reduce your shipping costs at the same time. Outsourcing your order fulfillment process will allow you to spend time on what really matters, running your business and acquiring more customers.
Ecommerce order fulfillment applies to both business-to-business (B2B) orders — where large quantities of product are shipped to big-box retailers — as well as business-to-consumer (B2C) orders that are shipped directly to a single shopper’s home.
For B2C orders, the end consumer may place the order on the merchant’s website or through an online marketplace.
After the customer completes their purchase, the fulfillment process begins.
If you are new to the fulfillment world, you may not have put much thought into how an online order ends up at your doorstep.
There are many moving pieces — from routing and managing inventory to choosing the correct packaging for the lowest practical dimensional weight — that make up the entire fulfillment process.
Each step of the fulfillment workflow has its nuance, including receiving inventory, warehousing products, picking and packing items, and shipping orders.
Before you can fulfill orders from your online sales channels, you need inventory.
If you choose to fulfill orders in-house, your inventory must be on-hand.
If you are outsourcing fulfillment, inventory must be sent to the provider that will fulfill on your behalf.
2. Inventory storage
Inventory storage, also known as warehousing, is the organization and storage of your products.
Each unique product or SKU must have a separate dedicated storage location.
For larger operations, this will be on a shelf, in a bin, or on a pallet.
Proper inventory storage will keep your products secure and protected and help give you visibility into what is available to ship to your customers.
3. Order processing
Once an order has been submitted, it will get processed.
These steps involve picking, or the retrieval of items from where they are stored, and packing, or getting the order ready to ship.
Often a packing slip is used, which notes the quantities and storage locations of each product ordered.
This may also include instructions on which packing materials to use — boxes, bubble mailers, poly bags, packing tape, bubble wrap, airfill, etc. — or any custom packaging and inserts to create the intended unboxing experience for the end customer.
Finally, a shipping label must be added to the package.
Once the order has been processed and is ready to send, the merchant must get it shipped.
This may involve a run to the local post office or UPS Store, or having a carrier pick up the orders from the fulfillment location.
Once the order ships, you should receive tracking info that can be shared with customers to keep them up-to-date with their deliveries.
5. Returns processing
If a customer returns an order, you must be prepared to process it.
They may ship it directly back to you or the fulfillment provider where it will be evaluated.
Depending on the item quality, return reason, and your returns policy, the product can either be restocked as available inventory or disposed of due to malfunction.
CONTACT SHIPJOY TODAY
If you need help with your order fulfillment, don’t hesitate to contact us at ShipJoy. We have the experience, dedication, and knowledge you need to ensure your packages get where they need to go and your customers return time and again.