With a better eCommerce order fulfillment strategy, you’ll ship faster, keep customers happier, and potentially even reduce costs. The question is, what steps do you need to take to improve your eCommerce order fulfillment strategy? And how should you approach ongoing optimization?
The Benefits of Better eCommerce Order Fulfillment
With a winning eCommerce order fulfillment strategy, your business will see several benefits. These stem from a variety of main causes, including:
- Improved customer experience. The most obvious benefit to better order fulfillment is improved customer experience. Customers can have faith that their order is being processed accurately, they’ll have greater transparency into when and how their products are shipped, and of course, they’ll receive their products more reliably and faster. This makes customers much happier, more loyal, and more willing to refer you to others.
- Smoother internal workflows. Better eCommerce order fulfillment is also vital for efficient internal processing. There will be fewer ambiguities in your workflows, less wasted labor, fewer redundant efforts, and a clear path to success in all cases. In addition to saving your business money on labor and reducing mistakes, this has the potential to make your employees more satisfied and engaged with their work.
- Higher profitability. Cumulatively, benefits in these areas lead to higher profitability. You’ll be capable of reducing costs, minimizing errors, and making your customers happier at the same time – which should lead to increases in revenue with proportionate decreases in expenses.
How to Improve Your eCommerce Order Fulfillment Strategy
So how exactly are you supposed to improve your eCommerce order fulfillment strategy?
Despite seeming simple and straightforward, there are several areas of optimization that you need to pay attention to:
- Audit what you already have. The first step is to audit what you already have. How are you processing orders? What workflows are you following? Who is your shipping partner and what options are available to your customers? What are your shipping times like and what are your customer satisfaction scores? Analyzing these data and more should help you come to conclusions about the current efficiency and effectiveness of your order fulfillment strategy.
- Vet your partners carefully. Next, commit to finding the best possible shipping partners. Shipping partners vary in terms of services offered, reliability, shipping times, and prices, so do your due diligence and find a good fit for your brand.
- Give customers more options. More options for customers is rarely, if ever a bad thing. Having more options means you’ll be able to serve more customers the way they want to be served, without forcing anyone into a service they don’t need or want.
- Create elegant processes. The more streamlined and elegant your workflow processes are, the fewer mistakes and challenges you’ll face in order fulfillment. Try to design step-by-step processes that minimize waste, eliminate redundancy, and are easy to follow, even for people unfamiliar with your systems. In addition to promoting efficiency, it should also make training and automation easier.
- Integrate better inventory management systems. With better inventory management, order fulfillment naturally becomes easier. Make sure you’re tracking everything smoothly and accurately with the latest and greatest technology you can afford.
- Communicate clearly and proactively. Better customer communication is vital for maintaining customer satisfaction with your order fulfillment. Give customers automatic notifications at each step of the process, and remain fully transparent along the way; this also means proactively communicating whenever you experience a problem, like a shipping delay.
- Make returns easier. Returns can be a pain for both customers and businesses, so do what you can to make returns easier. Customers should be able to figure out how to process returns in a matter of minutes and prepare their products for return in an hour.
- Automate whatever you can. Finally, work to automate whatever you can. Automation has two primary benefits: reducing the need for manual labor and minimizing the possibilities of mistakes and deviations from established workflows. Automation technology has become incredibly advanced in recent years, making it much more reliable and capable of more tasks; it’s also much more popular than it used to be, meaning soon, you’ll need to adopt it just to keep up.
The Road to Ongoing Optimization
Improving your eCommerce order fulfillment strategy once is a great step forward, but it’s not going to earn you lasting returns. If you want to keep improving your profitability and running your company more smoothly, you need to practice ongoing optimization.
- Adopt a continuous improvement mindset. Continuous improvement is an ongoing process of iterative, gradual optimization. Adopting this mindset means you no longer see improvement as a race coming from a beginning point to an endpoint; instead, you see improvement as something to practice continuously, the same way we need to drink water continuously to survive.
- Gather feedback. Make it a point to gather feedback from both customers and employees. Are there hiccups in processing that need to be corrected? Are there new options that could make things more convenient or new processes that could make things smoother? Take this feedback seriously and act on it when appropriate.
- Track the right metrics. Objective metrics can help you figure out just how effective your order fulfillment processes are. How quickly are you delivering products? Which areas suffer from the greatest lag and can you improve them?
- Commit to iterative improvements. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality doesn’t apply here. It’s important to continue experimenting and making iterative improvements whenever possible.
With a better eCommerce order fulfillment strategy in place, your business will run more efficiently and serve its customers better. In today’s fiercely competitive eCommerce industry, this is a differentiating advantage that you can’t afford to pass up. Investing in this strategy with new technologies and workflows does take time and money, but it’s well worth it if you want to be competitively dominant.
Featured image provided by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!