The order fulfilment process starts when a customer orders a product. What your business does next are some of the most critical components of a healthy logistics process.
At first glance, order fulfilment might seem like an uncomplicated task. But anyone involved in the eCommerce business knows that it can be challenging. Because it is such a vital part of your business and the customer experience, you need to invest time and resources in the processes and technology that will give you the best possible results.
Imagine thousands of products heading out the door to countless customers, all involving different delivery times, costs, and shipping carriers. There’s nothing simple about it, and how you handle order fulfilment can make or break your business.
Here are eight of the most common order fulfilment mistakes and how your business can address them.
1. Damaged or Inaccurate Orders
One of the first mistakes eCommerce businesses make relates to incorrect order information. If you have an inaccurate product description on your website, you’re likely going to get a lot of unhappy customers, negative reviews, and product returns. An inefficient system can also lead to errors in order fulfilment, meaning the wrong items or damaged products are sent to customers, which is another costly mistake for your business.
You can address these problems best by using a warehouse management system (WMS) that loads accurate product descriptions into your eCommerce system and helps your workers accurately fulfil orders. Inventory safety and quality control measures can reduce instances of damaged items being sent to customers.
2. Inadequate Stock Management
When a customer orders a product, you need to be able to locate it quickly and easily so that it can be shipped without delay. If your warehouse isn’t well-organised, you may have trouble finding items or face unexpected stockouts, resulting in shipping delays.
To avoid these problems, have a high-quality WMS system in place and consider integrating other technology solutions, such as mobile powered industrial carts for warehouse management.
3. Incorrect Warehouse Layout
Having enough warehousing space is critical for the success of your eCommerce business. But how you use the space you have is just as important. Whether you outsource order fulfilment or not, proper warehouse layout and management should be a priority. For example, high-volume products should be located closer to packaging and loading docks and you can use vertical space to your advantage as well.
4. Delivery Times
Today’s consumers have become accustomed to next-day shipping. And many will look elsewhere if they don’t get the fast service they expect. While your business doesn’t necessarily have to ship everything same day or next day, it should deliver on its promises.
You can meet your customers’ expectations by tracking your inventory closely and replenishing it automatically when necessary. Have the right technology, systems, and shipping partners on hand to handle high-volume seasons.
5. Eliminate Manual Tracking
In today’s digital age, there’s no reason to use manual tracking of inventory items or customer purchases. The right WMS paired with other technology solutions like RFID tags and mobile carts can automate this process entirely. You’ll know when inventory arrives at your warehouse, how much you have, when orders have been packed and shipped, and can give customers the tracking data – all through an automated system.
6. Poor Customer Communication
When you sell items online and run a complex logistics machine, mistakes will happen. But what isn’t acceptable is not communicating with customers about them when they do. It’s important to remember that customers are counting on your promises and might have support questions that you can easily resolve.
You can keep the lines of communication open with customers by using a variety of tools. A Knowledge Base on your website can answer some common questions. You can also use a live chat feature to deliver more personalised service.
7. High Shipping Costs
Online retailers struggle with what to charge customers for shipping and how to get the best rates from shipping partners. If you outsource eCommerce fulfilment, you’re probably going to get better shipping rates from partners because you are pooling resources with other clients for the highest volume discounts.
When it comes to what you should charge customers, you’ll likely find out through trial and error. Keep in mind that many customers search for free shipping. So, if you can offer this, even with a threshold (“Free Shipping for Orders Over £50”), you’ll likely get better results.
8. Poor Reverse Logistics Processes
Even the best-run eCommerce store is going to experience customer returns. People purchase the wrong size, colour, or model, or receive damaged items and need to send them back. How you handle reverse logistics is a vital part of the customer experience.
Unfortunately, too many businesses treat this part of the business as an afterthought and don’t handle reverse logistics well. Your business can do better by setting up a staging area to receive and inspect returned items. Quickly process refunds for customers and return what you can back to inventory for re-sale.
The importance of inventory accuracy cannot be stressed enough for e-commerce and online retail brands. Accurate inventory tracking allows brands to fulfil orders on time and accurately. And as brands grow out of small warehouse space and into larger facilities, so does the need to efficiently manage inventory.
If you’re not already data obsessed, then you need to be. You’ll often need to be able to access and act upon inventory data within a day, or even a few hours, in order to capitalise on every opportunity that you’re presented with.
Taking your inventory accuracy to the next level is possible with our Cloud Warehouse Management System (WMS), will allow you to step up to multi-location management per product. You will be able to segregate your warehouse into bulk and pick slots. The system will determine what you should replenish and which warehouse bay you should replenish from based on rules defined in the software, to ensure that stock is properly rotated and managed effectively, efficiently and with minimal manual intervention.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfilment and manufacturing warehousing.