— August 29, 2018
If you want your e-commerce business to be highly successful, it is no secret that getting your products to the customer is a key contributor to that achievement.
There are many challenges when it comes to ensuring that you have an efficient fulfillment process for your business.
The Supply Chain Council has defined the successful fulfillment process as “the percentage of orders meeting delivery performance with complete and accurate documentation and no delivery damage.”
Increased Ordering Channels
One of the major concerns for e-commerce businesses is the trend in customers using multiple channels to order from e-retailers.
This year a survey was conducted by Maha Muzumdar and Anijay Zinzuwadia:
Their findings were that only 5% of consumers have reduced the number of channels used to order products, while 50% used the same channels but 45% used more channels for ordering products.
This can be problematic for businesses as it disrupts the flow of information into the organization that helps with resource planning, and can cost businesses in managing all the channels and the logistics of it. Customers can often see this in the different customer service experiences they receive. This is not helped when 38% of e-retailers have software capable of managing the four or more ordering channels that they tend to offer customers.
The Effects Of A Badly Managed Fulfillment Service
The biggest problem with a disorganized fulfillment process is that there is a risk of customer orders being delayed, broken orders or even missing. This can be highly frustrating for businesses and poor customer experiences are one of the main reasons why companies suffer from churn.
This can have a knock-on effect on the gross profit of the business as you spend more time acquiring new customers. Selling to new customers is more expensive than selling to existing, happy customers, therefore retaining current customers is essential. Making the fulfillment process highly efficient is on the frontline of this process.
The Key Factors In A Fulfillment Process
There are several factors and elements that can help your business to develop a highly successful fulfillment process.
Here are some of the key points for you to implement:
1. An Aligned Fulfillment Process
The first tactic is to ensure that no matter where your customer makes an order they are processed in the same way. You might have several ordering options (mail, phone, internet, etc) but they should all be treated the same.
Standardizing your fulfillment workflow prevents from orders being lost in the paperwork, or forgotten in the warehouse.
2. Correctly Anticipate Lead Times
Customers will want to know when their order will get to them.
Most of the time they won’t mind it being early, but they will not appreciate the order being late. Therefore, it is always best to say that an order will take longer to get to a customer than anticipated. Look at your process and how long it takes your courier to get the delivery to areas and use these as a way to estimate delivery times.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Communications is not everything, but without it you have nothing.”
The same can be said for your fulfillment process.
When you don’t communicate regularly with your customers about where in the process their order is, then customers are likely to worry. Communication reassures them and it gives them confidence in your service.
The last area of improvement is to have an organized warehouse, where your staff knows the layout of it like the back of their hand so that everything runs smoother. Products should be placed in certain areas so staff isn’t wasting time looking for products when fulfilling an order.
With the rise in the number of channels customers are now using to make orders, it is hard for e-commerce businesses to keep control of their fulfillment systems, yet these are the key to retaining customers.
Aligning the logistics of order fulfillment and communicating with customers are the basic ingredients for developing a successful fulfillment process.
- How many channels can customers use to order from you?
- How do you combine them all?