In today’s competitive e-commerce environment, fast shipping is the name of the game. But, of course, the customer must receive their orders quickly and correctly. You don’t want to receive negative feedback because your warehouse failed to pack the correct item color or size. So to ensure you’re shipping fast and correctly, you need an efficient & systematic order management process from receiving to fulfilling and delivering the orders.
What’s the Typical Order Fulfillment Workflow?
Most e-commerce shops have an order fulfillment workflow that goes like this:
- The customer places an order on your website, mobile app, or other digital sales channels.
- The payment is validated, and the order is recorded through a back-office system.
- The order fulfillment request is sent to the warehouse.
- The order is picked, packed, and shipped to the customer.
- The customer receives the order.
- The customer can return or refund the order, depending on shop policy.
If everything goes well until Step 5, the customer’s order arrives on time and includes the correct item in good condition. But Steps 2 through 4 have room for human errors if your business relies on manual data entry of orders. The repetitive process of entering values into tons of Excel spreadsheets can be tiring for your staff and cause them to make mistakes. And if there’s an error, it can be hard to trace it, especially if your shop and the warehouse use different spreadsheets that aren’t aligned properly. Unfortunately, all of these will result in wasted working hours and poor customer experience that affects your brand reputation.
How to Boost Your E-commerce Order Fulfillment Process
So what can you do to refine your shop’s order management process? Below are some tips.
1. Use an order management system (OMS).
It’s time to swap your Excel spreadsheets for an order management system (OMS). It will help you monitor and update inventory across your shop’s retail supply chain in real-time. You can avoid stockouts as you can display exact available-to-promise (ATP) quantities of each stock on your website or other digital sales channels. In turn, your warehouse won’t get blindsided by too many orders for items that are low in stock. No errors, no blunders. The warehouse will then have a smooth workflow to fulfill the order requests fast and correctly.
Using an OMS gives you complete visibility of your available inventory. It also helps you anticipate which products need to be replenished or removed soon. This way, you can minimize costs usually incurred from over or understocking products.
2. Select an OMS with omnichannel integration.
Do you sell your fashion items on Amazon, Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook? You need an OMS that integrates multiple digital sales channels into a single dashboard. It provides better accuracy in inventory management and order fulfillment. Say you have 100 pairs of Nike Metcon 7 in your warehouse and receive orders from different sales channels today: ten from Amazon, 20 from eBay, and ten from your website. You must quickly update all your sales channels that your shop only has 60 pairs left. If you can’t do it in real-time, you risk stockouts and order unfulfillment issues that can send your warehouse into a mess.
When you have an OMS with multi-channel capabilities, you can have a bird’s eye view of all customer purchases and automate the inventory updates in real-time. That leads to better fulfillment accuracy and faster shipping—which all translate to a good customer experience.
3. Optimize product information.
Order management errors don’t only happen in the office or warehouse—they may also start on your website or Amazon listing. So you must review all the posted product information. The product detail pages should contain ample information, including available stock, item sizes and colors, costs, shipping options, and estimated delivery date. All these details will help set customer expectations and create a better buying experience.
4. Audit your shipper regularly.
After refining the back-end operations for order management and warehouse dispatch, it’s time to evaluate your shipper. When the shipping is delayed, customers will likely take out their frustrations on your brand, not the shipping company. After all, your brand is the one that decides to partner with an underperforming company—you have to be accountable.
Conduct regular audits on your current shipping company. Do they offer accurate & real-time order tracking? Have you noticed a recent uptick in delayed or lost shipments or damaged deliveries? If the shipper has been delivering a not-so-stellar performance, it’s time to find a new & better shipper that can meet fulfillment expectations & boost customer experience.
5. Ensure a simple & seamless return process.
No matter how streamlined your order management process is, there will still be returns. You have to create a simple & seamless return process. It’s one way to ensure an impressive after-sales customer experience. Most customers who can return their items effortlessly are more likely to patronize the same business and come back to buy another product.
Many OMS has built-in features for an easy return & automated refund process. So if you’re on the hunt for a suitable OMS for your e-commerce business, consider those features. Also, don’t forget to set clear and concise returns policy settings to set customer expectations and guide the buyers when they need to return or refund their purchase.
In e-commerce, the customer experience relies mostly on how easily they can place their orders and how fast they receive the correct orders. So you must prioritize refining your order management & fulfillment processes. It could be the key element that will help you scale up your e-commerce business.
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