7 Best Practices to Improve Your Order Fulfillment Process

Any e-commerce business should have a strategic order fulfillment process. It should be as fast and efficient as possible, with as much communication and visibility with the customer. This will keep customers happy, and they will likely come back for future purchases. 

But how can you make your e-commerce order fulfillment process even more efficient? This article covers the 7 best practices to improve your order fulfillment process. 

Implement an Order Management System 

An order management system (OMS) simplifies the order fulfillment process rather than recording everything manually. As a business, you should have seamless integration and communication with your suppliers through an order management system.  

It is very unlikely that you will lose visibility and control of an order with an OMS. It can automate manual processes, reduce errors, and help control costs. 

Take a look at this case study for how an OMS can help improve online order fulfillment. 

Visibility Between You, Suppliers, and Customers

You, your suppliers, and your customers should have full visibility of the order. You need to ensure you have the processes in place to see what’s happening in your supply chain. Therefore, you and your suppliers should be able to see the inventory fulfillment, order fulfillment processes, and have access to the same catalogue. 

Customers browsing your site should be able to see what’s available in real-time. If there is clouded visibility, this may cause problems when customers place their orders. For example, if the inventory is not updated on the website, the customer may order something you do not have in stock. You may need to refund the order, and you may lose the customer if they don't get what they want. 

Choose the Right Shipping Company

Your shipping company is usually the biggest speedbump in the online order fulfillment process. If the shipper is underperforming in terms of shipment times and delays, customers will complain to you and may not order again. You should ensure they can ship packages in the different sizes you offer and that they can deliver to where your customers are located.

Take a look at your current shipping company. Do they have real-time, accurate order tracking? Have there been shipping delays, damaged deliveries, or customer complaints? If so, you may need to find another company. 

Upgrade Shipping to Meet Customer Expectations

This is not necessary but is a very smart decision. You should consider automatically upgrading the shipping methods to meet the original delivery date that you told your customers. This is also called exception-based order management and is much better than simply notifying customers that their order is delayed.

If you implement this, your customers will be much happier and have a positive experience with your brand. It can cost a little bit extra in shipping but is worth it. Remember that happy customers are loyal customers, which means a higher chance of repeat purchases.

Communicate With Your Customers  

Customers should have up-to-date, real-time information about their order status. They should be updated throughout the entire fulfillment process, not just a vague “thanks for your order” email. 

They should know when their order is received, is being processed, shipped, and if it will be delayed. If possible, you should include a tracking number so they can see exactly where the order is in transit.

Accept Returns and Handle Them Well 

Returns are a part of the business. The order fulfilment process ends when the customer is happy with their order. If they don’t receive what they expected or don't like the items, they should have the option to return them and get their money back. 

It’s important to have an effective return policy in place, so you and the team know how to deal with returns. Having a return policy makes customers more likely to purchase from you. In fact, 96% of shoppers¹ who were able to return their order easily would shop with that retailer again. 

Train Your Staff Well

If your staff are not trained properly, order fulfillment can be difficult or labour-intensive. Your staff should be well-trained, know where to find the items they need for an order, and have good incentives to keep them motivated.

Efficient and motivated employees help to reduce order fulfillment times and are more productive. Treat your staff well, and it will be reciprocated – you will see the results in the whole order fulfillment process.

Conclusion 

You can improve your order fulfillment process with the right practices. Remember that happy customers are loyal customers, and they will be more likely to return and shop from you again. Implement the 7 tips detailed above for the most efficient order fulfillment process. 

References:

  1. “The State of Returns: What Today’s Shoppers Expect“ https://see.narvar.com/rs/249-TEC-877/images/Consumer-Report-Returns-2018-4.3.pdf

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