One major thing in business is that most customers usually anticipate their orders should arrive faster and in good condition. Since the customer is always right, companies developed a more straightforward way of meeting their customers’ desires and called it ‘order fulfillment.’
Ecommerce fulfillment services allow companies to receive and process orders effectively and timely. Here is an outline that will take you through the eight steps of the order fulfillment process alongside other key strategies.
Step #1: Receiving an Order
The foremost step in purchasing products is placing an order. Most businesses usually stock enough products, depending on their sales flow, seasons, and other factors. However, if the recently ordered product is out of stock, the company purchases it in bulk or as the customer requires and prepares it for shipping.
Perhaps you have acquired your inventory from your company’s warehouse. The next step is counting the items per the customer’s order while ensuring they are in good condition and meet other customer specifications. This phase also allows companies to change the inventory by replacing broken items or repairing the repairable ones.
Step #2: Inventory Storage
After a thorough inspection, tallying, sorting, labelling, and organizing, the new inventory (in case you made any changes) is moved to the storage facilities for a short or long-term period. The main reason for holding the stock in the short-term storage area is to work on other orders of the same kind while conducting a further inspection of the items.
Long-term storage is mainly applicable when a company is still in negotiation with the customer, hoping they might increase their order.
Step #3: Order Processing
Order processing happens toward the end or as soon as the storage period ends. This phase involves preparing the items for shipping, dictating how the products will be picked and packed per the customer’s order, and other factors such as fragility.
With great technology, most companies are adopting automatic order processing software that alerts the warehouse staff an order has been placed or automatically initiates the processing. The software strictly adheres to all the specifications detailed in the packing slip or sales order.
Step #4: Picking Staff
After processing the order successfully, the sales manager orders the picking team to select the ordered items. Again, various companies have embraced technology in this step by incorporating warehouse robots to choose the items as per the packing sheet details automatically.
Alternatively, you can hire picking staff to manually review and select the products based on the specified colour, size, and amount. The same team prepares the picking items for packing.
Step #5: Packing the Products
The packing phase involves putting the picked items in their containers or boxes based on fragility, weight, and value. The company must choose the right packaging materials for different products for safety measures.
That way, all the items will land at their final destination, being stable and in good condition, enhancing customer satisfaction. The packing team should be well-trained in weight checking and recording for adequate order preparation for shipping or transportation.
At this step, they also ensure they have achieved the lowest practical structural weight, which is determined by multiplying package length times width times height.
Step #6: Order Shipping
In this stage, the packed order is transported to the transportation channel for shipping the goods to the customer. If you had chosen a third-party fulfillment for your order(s), the organization might ship it from their premises to save on time and costs or send it to yours for prestige.
The shipping line then measures the weight of the package(s) or its dimensional weight to determine a specific price for the services. Additionally, most carriers have various packaging rules for different products, failure to which they may decline your package.
Step #7: Order Delivery
Most carriers usually deliver the packages to a temporary storage facility before transporting them to the customer’s home. This method boosts the customer’s experience, saving them from heading to the carrier headquarters.
Also, it’s more friendly for remote deliveries. The local transporting companies, in association with the shippers, usually notify the sender that the package has been well delivered and picked up by the customer.
Step #8: Order Return Process
The last order fulfillment step is when a customer returns an order for exchange or due to other dissatisfactions. Companies usually include return shipping materials and a label in the original order if the customer wishes to return it.
When the customer returns an order for exchange, the above steps are followed more strategically, while orders returned over malfunction or breakage issues are refunded. Alternatively, businesses can send the returned items to a recycling facility. However, companies try as hard as possible to avoid order returns as they are time-consuming and costly.
Customers hold significant power over businesses, mainly executed through their orders. A slight mess during the order fulfillment process can cost your business plenty of time in resending, finances, and reputation. Hopefully, you’ve adequately grasped the above steps of order fulfillment for the sake of your beloved business.