Shipping and processing are extremely important for getting ordered goods to customers. But at times, the operation can feel cluttered and confusing. That can lead to orders not being fulfilled. You may also see mismanaged orders and a lot of inefficient processing. All of that can impact your company’s reputation, along with its bottom line.These seven tips can help your fulfillment process run more efficiently, and smoother than you ever thought possible.
1. Focus on the Accuracy of Your Inventory
Knowing what you have in stock is crucial to making sure customers get what they need from your company. Your inventory should be as accurate as possible. That means not only quantities for generalized types of goods, but specifics, too. In other words, you might have 500 widgets. But are they all the same size? What colors are they?
If you don’t have detailed inventory information, you’re missing out on something that could really help your customers and your company. Inaccurate inventory can lead you to tell customers you have something and then not be able to ship on time. It can also mean a customer doesn’t order from you because an item shows out of stock when it actually isn’t. Accurate inventory is a big benefit for the fulfillment process.
2. Outsource Your Ecommerce Solutions
Don’t be afraid to outsource some of what you’re doing. That can make things easier and get you focused on other areas that need your attention. By using a third party logistics company like Tradefull, you can free up time and warehouse space that makes it easier for your company to stay moving. Especially if your company is growing rapidly, you’ll eventually run out of warehouse space.
You may also find that your in-house team can’t keep up with all the orders. That can lead to frustrated customers, orders not being fulfilled, and incorrect products being shipped. Naturally, you don’t want that to get started. It causes problems for your reputation and your bottom line. When you trust your fulfillment to an outside company, you will have the time and energy to focus on other areas of your business such as marketing.
3. Minimize the Level of Packaging
If you want an easier fulfillment process, you can also focus on how much packaging you’re using. Whether you’re fulfilling orders yourself or using a 3PL company, the packaging is something you can adjust. There are often options to put shipping labels on the box an item comes in and send it that way, instead of putting that box in another box.
The size of the packaging also matters, since there’s no reason to use a huge box and a bunch of packing material when a smaller box will do. That cuts down on the cardboard being used, but also lowers the amount of packaging material that goes inside. Both of those are good for a reduction in the use of packaging, which can save time and money.
4. Utilize a Quality RFID System
Tracking goods from point A to point B is a vital way to know where those goods are and if they’re getting to the customer. When you use RFID (radio frequency identification), you have an easier way to track your goods.
A lot of companies are choosing to use RFID tags now. Be sure you understand what RFID can and can’t do, so you’re getting the biggest benefits for your company.
5. Reduce Handling and Touch Points
The more people who have to touch the product before it’s shipped out, the higher the chance of something going wrong. There’s also a risk of damage, loss, misplaced items, and more. Plus, you’ll have more man-hours and the potential for more confusion when multiple people are handling the products throughout the process. Automating or outsourcing can reduce touch points and make the process of fulfillment more efficient.
6. Look for Predictability in the Order Fulfillment Process
Your order fulfillment process may not be wholly predictable, but it’s likely there are some patterns in it. If you have a holiday-themed product, for example, you know order fulfillment goes up to around that particular time of year. The same is true with seasonal products.
When you look back through months or years of orders, you can see the trends that you’ll need to pay attention to. That can help you ramp up production, become more organized, and prepare for busier times. If you’re not ready for an increase, order fulfillment is often more difficult.
7. Optimize Your Warehouse Layout
One of the best ways to find and ship what customers order is to optimize your warehouse layout. If your warehouse is crowded and inefficient, it’s not easy to find what you’re looking for. Items can be misplaced, and it’s easy to get frustrated. There can also be shipping delays, which upset customers.
Instead of risking all that, make sure your warehouse layout is as efficient as possible. There are multiple ways it can be laid out, depending on the kinds of goods you offer and other factors. It may take some trial and error until you find the layout that works best for your company’s efficiency.
The Bottom Line for Order Fulfillment
The order fulfillment process can feel daunting, especially as your company grows, and more orders are placed. Whether you choose to use a third-party logistics company or handle everything in-house, you want to make sure customers are getting what they’ve ordered. Most customers are looking for fast fulfillment, as well. They expect two- and three-day turnarounds and have gotten used to fast shipping.
If your company can offer that, you’ll have a better chance to keep more of your existing customers, and potentially gain new ones. For companies that continue to grow, a 3PL provider may be the right option. Not only can that help streamline the process, but it frees you up for other areas of the company that need your attention, as well.