Effectively fulfilling customer orders is an art and perfecting the process can be a real challenge for new business owners – as well as seasoned business owners like. In our increasingly digitised world, consumers have become accustomed to convenience at every point of the purchasing process – from browsing the catalogue, to choosing their delivery or pick-up options and receiving their parcel.
Consumers increasingly expect a streamlined purchasing process, where their orders are easy to place, and delivered efficiently, accurately and in perfect condition. This means that businesses need to work extra hard at all times to maintain an effective order fulfilment process which keeps customers satisfied and coming back for more.
In this article, we outline the key challenges you may face when trying to perfect the order fulfilment process and provide useful advice on how to navigate these issues effectively.
Even at the best of times, order fulfilment processes can be complicated, multidimensional and error-prone. This is especially true as your business and inventory grows, and even more so as your target consumer base increases.
Unfortunately, the process can become even more difficult during seasonal spikes or decreases in demand; holidays like Christmas, for example, can complicate the task further. During times like these demand for certain products – or perhaps all products – can increase drastically, and businesses need to have the right processes, plans, and people in place to cope with these spikes.
One of the easiest ways to proactively prepare for seasonal fulfilment is to use inventory software to automate the purchasing process, easily keep track of stock and make predictions about sales. Automated inventory software will help you to plan ahead by providing historical sales trends data – from the previous Christmas, for instance – which you can use to guide your management of seasonal inventory orders.
Supply chain risks
It can be particularly difficult to ensure a streamlined order fulfilment process if your company has a large, complex supply chain involving multiple personnel, warehouses and locations. This is especially true for companies who outsource internationally, where it can be very difficult to supervise the supply chain at each stage.
A well-functioning supply chain is the backbone of a successful order fulfilment process and maintaining an effective supply chain requires constant attention and adjustment to suit demand.
Business owners need to ensure that each stage of the supply chain is reviewed regularly – is each person performing their role effectively? Are there any potential risks along the chain that could be avoided? Business owners should consider these questions regularly and adjust the supply chain accordingly to ensure parcels are consistently delivered quickly and in top-notch condition to the customer.
Consumers are increasingly demanding convenience, but they are also increasingly demanding lower delivery costs or none at all. Being able to fulfil this need is key to customer satisfaction, but this can be a challenging task where transportation and freight costs are on the rise.
To get around this issue, consider ways in which you might be able to offer lower delivery costs to your customers without taking a company loss because of it. One option you may want to consider is the BOPIS model. By offering BOPIS, money-conscious consumers have the option of saving on delivery costs if they choose, by picking up their parcels in store at their convenience. Of course, this also helps you as the business owner, reducing your expenditure considerably.