For any retailer, fulfiling customer orders in a timely and appropriate manner is the primary goal first and foremost in their minds. However, order fulfilment is not a simple concept that involves receiving orders, locating the product in the warehouse and calling it a day. The challenges arise in ensuring the received orders and inventory stock are in sync even though the received orders do not necessarily occur before the warehouse is restocked. This involves good inventory management knowledge and software support. Here we will consider some of the challenges to be wary of where eCommerce order fulfilment is concerned.
Challenge 1: Having the right people
To facilitate quick and accurate eCommerce order fulfilment, you need to ensure inventory management is at its best, which need the support of good people – staff who are well-trained and well-equipped to be able to anticipate orders and keep a tight grip on inventory. Your personnel also need to have a detailed understanding of geographical locations and shipping regulations to ensure all I’s are dotted and all T’s crossed. Employing the wrong people for this important job can not only sacrifice your reputation with customers but can also land you in hot water if regulations and import and export tax laws are not adhered to.
Challenge 2: Embracing technology
In a company’s infancy, manual picking and packing may work well and ensure company order fulfilment objectives are being met. However, with business growth, it will not be long before manual methods will no longer be satisfactory. As with most areas in manufacturing and distribution in the current retail climate, it is worth embracing all technology has to offer for inventory management and order fulfilment. This may be in the form of inventory management software and possibly even automated or robotic packing warehouses.
Challenge 3: Making time to work on the vision
Companies run into problems when they have managers who fail to delegate and take on the grunt work in the warehouse. Employ the right people and then relinquish control and let them do what they do best. In doing so, management can do what they do best which is strategising and planning for future business growth. Again, the use of inventory management software can do a lot of heavy lifting, leaving business managers to focus on more value-added tasks.
Challenge 4: Accepting customer feedback
Since the success of your retail business depends upon customer satisfaction which depends upon accurate and timely order fulfilment, it stands to reason that you cannot improve your position in the market if you have no feedback from your customers to gauge their satisfaction. Therefore, it is vital to create a feedback system where you welcome customers’ inputs, both good and bad, so that you can adopt constructive change.
Challenge 5: Planning and anticipating growth
A challenge retailers can face is failing to anticipate or plan for increased orders and necessary company growth which means that when the time comes for it to happen, they cannot afford it and are stunted by their own doing. It is vital to plan for growth and future-proof any systems you install or technology you acquire. This will ensure that when the business is ready and well-equipped to take on growth.
In this article, we have considered five challenges that can present themselves where eCommerce order fulfilment is concerned. They look at all the support required for retail operations such as software, technology, management and personnel. It is imperative that challenges in these areas are met head-on with understanding and flexibility to ensure that the eCommerce retailer can adapt to any curved balls flying their way.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.