Guest post by Jake Rheude
E-commerce has taken over the retail industry by storm in the last decade, offering customers an easy and cost-effective way to purchase products anywhere, any time of the day.
In fact, it is estimated that by the time 2022 rolls in, online sales will account for over 17% of total retail sales in the US.
Thus, as the demand for e-commerce options continues to rise, retailers must continue enhancing their e-commerce fulfillment processes to meet the needs of their customers.
That said, here are ten smart ways on how you can make your e-commerce fulfillment process more efficient:
Make Sure Your Inventory Information is Accurate
First off, as an e-commerce retailer, your inventory should be up-to-date and accurate.
Many of today’s users have very little patience with back-ordered products, so you must ensure that you are updating your inventory regularly so that it will accurately reflect your current inventory.
If you have a hard time tracking and managing your inventory, you could partner with a third-party e-commerce fulfillment service provider to help you maximize your efficiency and to serve your customers better.
Create a Seamless Integration
In a lot of cases, products that are being sold online are often sourced from dropship suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and the brand itself. In every scenario, seamless integration with your supplier and order management system (OMS) is crucial.
Several software and programs are tailored to make this process seamless. So investing in these programs or working closely with an outsourced order fulfillment company will make this possible.
Incorporate Systems for Enhanced Visibility and Tracking
Using the same order management system as your supplier won’t get you far. You still have to ensure that you gain full visibility of their catalog and inventory so that you could easily update the stock levels in your site. Not to mention that you need to keep your customers informed.
Tracking your orders is also crucial. If ever an order gets stuck or delayed in transit, you need to let the buyer know so that they’ll feel that you’re keeping them updated at all times.
By tracking your orders and providing your customers with real-time updates, you’ll offer them a better customer experience. Plus, it helps improve your brand credibility as well.
You could also keep your customers in the loop of your current stock levels to avoid any frustrations if your inventory isn’t immediately available. The process is also a lot smoother if you keep everyone informed.
Automate Repetitive Processes
To hasten the order fulfillment process, you should utilize automation.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have robots who do manual processes. It means that you could track better what comes in and out of your inventory on a real-time basis.
High-quality scanners will make this possible, so does the software that presents users with dashboards to track the items.
Several apps could be downloaded into tablets and smartphones that allow quick and easy automation. That’s not all. Automation also helps reduce overhead costs and decreases the risk of human error while creating more sales opportunities at the same time.
Choose the Right Shipper
If your back-end processes are running well, then you could be successful in your online venture. However, if your shipper is not fast, it does not matter how good your relationship with your supplier is.
Even if your deliveries are sent out in time, if your shippers took a while to pick it up or it is lost, forgotten, or damaged during shipping, then you have to make some changes.
Selecting a shipping service that regularly meets your standards is as crucial as your online visibility, as well as communication with suppliers.
Moreover, if your shipper underperforms regularly, then it is highly likely that your customers will take out their frustrations on you. This can damage your business’s reputation and not that of your shipper.
So, finding the right shipper to work with is key.
Keep Your Customers Informed
Your customers are the ones that make your business a success. So, ensure that you are always keeping them happy by keeping them well-informed and engaged.
You can do this by providing them with regular updates about the current status of their order, for instance.
Most customers expect this as a standard, and poor communication quickly leads to customer dissatisfaction, which could ultimately hurt your brand.
Of course, this does not mean that you need to go overboard by sending them emails and updates eight times a day. It is a great idea that you send them an update when their order is received by your supplier and dispatched from the facility.
You also need to provide them with the tracking details so that they could follow their order while it is in transit.
By regularly sending updates, you will offer your customers peace of mind, which will ultimately push them to come back and make more purchases in the future.
Enable Exception-Based Order Management
When shipping orders, end-to-end visibility exception-based order management could come in handy.
This means that instead of merely notifying your customers that orders are delayed (which could lead to bad customer experiences), you can offer to upgrade the shipping methods to meet your previous delivery promise.
Although this process might cost you extra on the shipping, in the long run, it will save you the headache of having to deal with irate customers and lost business. This could also improve brand loyalty and enhance the likelihood of repeat purchases.
Invest in a Warehouse Management System
A great warehouse management system is one of the largest investments that separates the small-timers from businesses that make it big-time.
One of the advantages of using a warehouse management system is that it opens more strategies in other areas.
If you’re still using manual inventory tracking methods, you’re hurting your ability to effectively manage your inventory and fulfill your orders.
Without detailed information that a warehouse management system provides, it would be difficult to implement logistic strategies. This includes numerous fulfillment centers and drop shipping.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.