Today, eCommerce already accounts for some 13.7% of all global retail sales. By 2040, this number is expected to reach a whopping 95%! Yet, with great power comes great responsibility; especially in the order fulfillment department.
As eCommerce becomes more mainstream, it will become increasingly difficult to keep up with all the demand, as well as the competition. Therefore, businesses — both big and small — need to work on removing all the superfluous procedures that they can and streamline their order fulfillment process as much as possible. But first:
What’s an eCommerce Order Fulfilment Process?
In a nutshell, this refers to the process of handling and delivering customer orders. From the moment an order is issued, to the moment it reaches your customers’ hands, you’re solely responsible for that order. If something goes wrong, guess who they’ll blame — you. Therefore, you need to make sure everything runs smoothly and according to plan as much as humanly possible — and beyond.
Namely, the faster you can process these, the better it is for your bottom line (and your customer satisfaction rates). So, without further ado, here are five steps you need to take to ensure you have a fully streamlined eCommerce order fulfillment process.
1. Automate Processes If Possible
It’s no secret that customers expect their goods to arrive as soon as possible after they’ve made a purchase. One way to increase the speed of delivery is by automating repetitive tasks such as invoicing, billing, and order processing. That will help streamline the entire order fulfillment process and remove any potential human errors out of the equation. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about getting flooded with tons of paperwork due to too many orders pouring in all at once when your business starts growing.
Also, automating your core order fulfillment processes is perfectly scalable — and at minimal cost — allowing you to expand your business with ease.
2. Consider Smart Storage Solutions
Your warehouse and storage facilities sit at the heart of your order fulfillment process. Any bottlenecks here can cause potential stalls in delivery, misplaced orders, and supply overstocking, to name a few. As a result, your customers will get extremely agitated with your service, causing them to vent their frustrations on social media and tarnish your brand’s good name.
To avoid this, you need to implement some sound storage strategies to speed the whole process up and reduce human error. For instance, using NetSuite ERP software as your warehouse management solution to keep track of inventory over multiple locations, calculate shipping costs automatically, and utilize smart cycle counts and safety stocks to prevent inventory shortage. That way you make sure your products are always delivered on time and at optimal cost.
3. Think Globally
One of the many charms of eCommerce is the ability to compete on a global scale. Yet, to accomplish this goal, you must first cater to a wide audience comprised of different backgrounds and nationalities. For starters, their local currencies might be vastly different from the ones you’re displaying on your eCommerce store. Meaning, they’ll have to compare prices and do all the exchanges on their own. This adds unnecessary steps to the whole process making it more difficult instead of simplifying it for your customers. According to a survey conducted by ZDNet, 57% of people said they would not re-visit an eCommerce store that uses only U.S. Dollars instead of local currencies.
So, think globally; just don’t forget about the locals.
4. Communicate Throughout the Whole Process
Don’t stall your customers — be honest; things happen. If a package goes missing or is unexpectedly delayed, communicate this to your customers. There’s nothing worse than being kept in the dark. You can also offer various discounts and coupons if this does occur to soothe any angry customer.
Besides, work on creating a personalized confirmation system that allows customers to keep tabs on their order in real-time; just don’t forget to supply them with a tracking number along with their order details via email. This will relieve any anxieties they might have and keep them satisfied for the duration of the order fulfillment process.
5. Find the Right Shipping Service
No matter how well you manage your other processes, if your shipping partners fail — you’ll get all the blame. That’s why you need to find a shipping service that truly delivers; in every sense of the word. Do quarterly audits and write down the exact number of delayed or lost shipments. If you notice a decline, it’s time to find a new partner.
Bonus Tip: Find a shipping service that you can integrate with your other systems. That way, when there’s a return or a refund, you can co-ordinate with your shipping partner a lot easier to make sure your customers get their refunds on time.
In the end, it all comes down to customer satisfaction. Completing any one of these steps will greatly improve your chances of making a customer happy. Still, always be on the lookout for fresh ideas and find new and innovative ways to implement them into your strategy.