What is involved in order fulfillment, and why is it so important? On the surface, order fulfillment may appear to be a simple process: after receiving an order, you pick and pack the item before dispatching it to your customer. While this may seem straightforward, anyone who works in supply chain management will know that several moving parts are required to ensure these steps go off without a hitch.
In this article, we will examine in greater detail what goes into the order fulfillment process.
Step 1: Receiving an Order for Fulfillment
This may happen in a variety of ways, depending on how your firm functions. Orders are most commonly received through an online marketplace nowadays, but they can also come through phone calls or in person. If your target demographic includes teens and young adults, you may even be taking orders via social media.
Step 2: Order Processing for Fulfillment Services
Companies often have their own back-office systems to process orders internally. How this works depends on the firm and what they have determined to be the most successful. While small businesses may start out doing this manually or with the help of a simple system, the most effective way to do this is no doubt through an order processing software.
If your business has yet to hop onboard with order fulfilment automation, now is a good time to consider doing so. As the retail industry increasingly shifts towards the digital world, customers have a much lower tolerance for errors and delays in shipping caused by human error. In fact, almost 70% of customers indicated that they are unlikely to shop with a brand a second time if their order is not received within two days of what was promised!
Step 3: Request for Fulfillment
Once you have received and processed the order, the next step is down to your warehouse or stockroom. If you have contracted a third-party logistics service to take over order fulfilment, this includes reaching out to them to let them know about the order. When you deal with such a service, you will normally have a fluid communication system in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and you can expect them to be automatically alerted when an order comes through the system.
Did you know that up to 165 billion packages are shipped every year in the United States alone? If your business has grown faster than you expected and you find your in-house team struggling to fulfil orders on time, outsourcing these processes can be the best step forward.
Step 4: Retrieving the Order
During this step, the ordered item will have been located in the stockroom or warehouse. If you find that you experience frequent problems with locating an item within your internal system, this can affect the timeliness and accuracy of your shipments. This is not something to take lightly, considering the fact that you could be losing up 13% of your customers each time a delivery is late.
Many companies who do not have the capacity to handle picking in-house choose to outsource this process to a third-party provider. If you have outsourced your fulfillment service to logistics firms like Alpacka, you can be confident that their professional team are ready to handle your items with care and efficiency at this point.
Step 5: Packing the Order for Fulfillment
This step involves carefully packing your order and getting it ready to be shipped out. If you have hired a kitting and assembly service, they will do this for you. Packing may involve several steps such as box construction, tablet configuration, barcoding/labeling, box filling, and gift wrapping. Since this may be somewhat time-consuming, you will want to be sure you have a professional crew that can work precisely and promptly.
Never underestimate the impact that practical and visually appealing packaging can have on your brand image. Many customers turn to product unboxing videos to influence their purchase decision, and this trend is expected to grow. With attractive packaging that does the job of protecting your product, you will be well on your way to leaving a good impression on customers, both present and future!
Step 6: Shipping the Order
This is when your order is complete! At this point, a message will be sent to your customers, informing them that their order will be delivered shortly. If you have outsourced your services, make sure the logistics business you engage with has the necessary technology to give you and your customers transparent, honest, and real-time data.
Step 7: Arrival of the Order
Your order arrives safely at its destination.
Getting it Right
On the surface, order fulfillment can seem like a simple process, but hitting just one snag can cause major delays. To carry out order fulfillments successfully, engaging the help of an experienced, honest and capable team is in your best interests. Staff working on each stage of the process should be specialized to enhance efficiency.
The quantity of moving pieces in the order fulfillment process can also make it difficult to handle on your own, even if it looks easy. Therefore, many businesses choose to outsource their fulfillment processes, as doing so frees up your time to focus on bigger picture elements such as marketing, launching new products, and business ops.
If your business could benefit from engaging order fulfillment services, please feel free to get in touch with our team at Alpacka today. With a success rate of 99.8%, we have a better track record than the industry standard for quality and precision. You can trust us for accuracy, efficiency, and reliability. Contact us today to get started on a journey of collaboration!