As a retailer, you want to do everything you possibly can to serve your customers and boost your business. An effective way to keep that happening is by making your fulfilment of products you dispatch as easy as possible. With online inventory management software, you can improve your order fulfilment and deliver best-in-class service to your customers.
Order fulfilment without any stock on hand
As a retailer, you may be selling things that you don’t have in your own inventory yet. These could be stored in warehouses elsewhere. This allows you to offer customers much more than what you have stocked yourself. However, this makes it easy for things to get lost. Your customers don’t care where their goods come from, as long as it gets to them on time. With slick software, you can keep track of material goods really easily, and your customers will get their products on time.
As a company, you naturally want to reduce costs as much as you can. One way to do this is to rely on third or fourth parties to deliver your goods and essentially surrender any interest in the goods once they have been dispatched. This sometimes works, but is unreliable, and creates one-off customers, but if you want a sustainable customer base then you need to be swift and consistent with delivery.
Using software to improve order fulfilment
The problems of order fulfilment — late deliveries, extra costs, administrative tangles, malfunctioning tracking codes, websites that show items in stock when the item is really gone — can be managed much better with software. You need some inventory management software to manage dispatch and fulfilment, especially if stock is held by a third-party.
The process of order fulfilment has several steps. One is finding the item to dispatch in the warehouse (or directly from a factory) where it is located. Then the item needs to be packed and packaged so it can get to a customer securely.
The next is transportation. If shipping internationally, or even domestically, you may use a combination of air and road transport to get the item to its location. If offering your products overseas, you need to consider duty and tax expenses. You may choose to offer tracking on the items you dispatch; even if this option is not available to customers, it’s a good practice for you to know where things are.
If your supplier is going to be late delivering some products, online inventory management software can alert you, and you can upgrade the shipping so that it arrives on time; unlike spreadsheet-based systems, online inventory management integrates with the selling and logistics channels. In the short term, this increases the cost for you as a business, but delivery is one of the most visible aspects of any online business, so delivering on time is an essential component on building a solid customer base.
You can also think about distributing products more evenly across the area where you operate. If items are already close to customers in warehouses, then shipping expenses are massively reduced.
With the right inventory management software, a commitment to your customers, and willingness to keep learning, you can improve order fulfilment to provide the best experience for your customers.
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.