With the speed that retail moves these days, it’s understandable that the order fulfilment process can bring on some difficult challenges for businesses. Customers have demands to be met around the clock. It’s essentially a requirement for businesses to have an online presence and a highly functional eCommerce platform.
However, this means that orders can potentially come from all around the country and the world. The scope of fulfilment systems is changing and it’s trickier than ever to create an efficient process that can fulfil orders in a streamlined fashion.
3 common challenges of order fulfilment
There are ways to enhance the order fulfilment process, but not until you identify the challenges causing difficulties within the business. There are a variety of common challenges companies face as they are evolving with their order fulfilment journey.
Take note of the challenges other companies are facing and embark on better solutions to create a smarter, more efficient workflow.
Challenge 1: Seasonal peaks
Getting your order fulfilment process set up to cope with everyday business is a big challenge within itself. The seasonal peak periods such as holidays and seasons raise the stakes even more.
The normal challenges and difficulties brought on by order fulfilment are enhanced during busy times. Predictive ordering software and analytics around these peak times can help businesses prepare for these busy times.
Building strong working relationships with suppliers and delivery services can help during these peaks. If you need to ask for more help, it’s easier to do it when your business relationship is strong. If you’re happy to help them out when they need it, they will also be happy to help you.
Challenge 2: Transportation
We have all felt the gas prices at the pump. The cost of fueling your own personal vehicle is undoubtedly rising. With fuel costs significantly increasing, these prices can impact your order fulfilment delivery process.
Goods can be delivered through a variety of transport modes. In the global commerce atmosphere, goods can be sent by boat, plane and truck.
The cost of getting them from A to B is rising and those costs get passed on to the consumer. This can lead to decreased customer satisfaction and people not buying your goods if they think the price is too high.
Price isn’t the only challenge with transport. It is increasingly difficult to find truck drivers and reliable courier services. If goods arrive broken or late because of your delivery service, this will reflect badly on the company.
Consider different ways of delivering your goods, outsource the process, or even consider adopting these shipping best practices.
Challenge 3: Inventory management
Each company has different inventory needs depending on their product and business model. It’s important to find the right online inventory management system for your business.
As companies grow, inventory management often becomes reactive; it can lag and sometimes old systems can impact the order fulfilment process.
Cloud-based inventory management software is adaptable and better than manual systems, but they are not all created equal. It’s critical to find one that will support your inventory needs, grow with you, and support your order fulfilment process.
Improving order fulfilment
The lifecycle of B2B order fulfilment begins when a business places an order and ends when the shipment is made. From start to finish, there are various processes that need to occur such as inventory stock allocation, billing, invoicing and scheduling delivery.
The process starts with inventory, so it is necessary to optimise your inventory control. Having the right inventory stock at the right place and time is one of the main steps in the order fulfilment success. Companies need to:
- Improve demand forecasting because the better you know your customer behaviour, the more prepared you are to meet their demands at any given time. Effective demand forecasting for each sales channel will help reduce instances of dead stock.
- Maintain inventory accuracy, updating your inventory count in real time to ensure your customers can’t order products that aren’t in stock. Inventory visibility allows you to keep track of inventory levels to manage reordering or to help determine if production of certain products should increase or decrease.
- Monitor multiple stock access points and enable easy stock transfers between warehouses to avoid any one location becoming stockless.
- Optimise order management so that the whole delivery team is aware of the status of each order to avoid delays in moving products through to the next stage. Ensure you deliver only what your customer asked for.
- Upskill and train staff to manage peak periods effectively. Many touch-based devices available today have the look and feel of smartphones that are used every day by staff, meaning warehouse workers can get familiar with these devices quickly and enjoy a better all-around user experience.
- Improve supply chain visibility to identify areas that may be damaging your order fulfilment processes. You can then take adequate steps to fix it to ensure the fulfilment process runs smoothly, saving you time, money and limiting customer service dissatisfaction.
To help mitigate problems with their B2B order fulfilment activities, companies are employing new technologies, implementing automated platforms and using integrated software solutions to support their entire supply chain operation.
Implementing the right technology will facilitate improved distribution and B2B order fulfilment by addressing visibility issues.
Different technologies work together to streamline order fulfilment, RFID scanners scan inventory stock as it arrives, automatically updating inventory levels. Robots can store those goods for easy picking later. Robotics then help pick ordered items and deliver them to a packing area to be packed and shipped.
Automating the warehousing process with technologies such as robotics and radio-frequency identification will reduce human error and the time it takes to store and pick products, making your B2B order fulfilment more efficient.