Anyone in the business of selling goods to other businesses will know that doing so successfully is not necessarily a simple task. Business-to-Business (B2B) order fulfilment is a complicated process and must be carried out with precision and care, and there are often a range of factors to consider.
From failing to keep accurate stock records to neglecting to communicate with business customers, this article will help B2B owners develop a proactive approach to order fulfilment with a view toward continuing success.
Inventory management can be a mammoth of a task for B2B companies, especially since B2B organisations are often selling and shipping bulk amounts of products at a time. Keeping track of the stock that comes in and out of your warehouses can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, and if it is not managed carefully it can lead to snowballing mistakes and disappointed customers.
To avoid inaccurate stock takes and therefore, failed or delayed order fulfilment processes, use an inventory management software to track and report all your stock. Barcodes and barcode scanners will help to automate the stock take processes, reducing the likelihood if inaccurate inventory records.
Is your stocktaking process holding you back? Follow these 9 steps for better stock taking.
A related challenge for B2B owners in terms of order fulfilment is inaccurate demand forecasts. Being able to predict, at least roughly, which items are likely to be in or out of demand (and when) is key to enabling successful order fulfilment.
Failing to accurately predict sales trends will leave inventory managers in the dark about which products to order, how much and when. In turn, when business customers suddenly ask for a large amount of product which has not been ordered, the fulfilment process may be delayed or even fail all together.
Inventory software provides a solution to this problem: by using inventory software to track your sales, you will be better placed to predict which items will be popular in the future.
Communicating with business customers
While B2C companies tend to put greater emphasis on communicating the status of orders with customers, B2B companies often neglect this. However, failing to communicate with your business customers can be risky, especially when there are delays in the process, which can leave your business customers dissatisfied.
If for instance there is a delay in preparing an order to leave the warehouse and this is not communicated with the customers, your customers are essentially being left in the dark. This can lead to bad reviews, and more generally can tarnish your reputation among those in your industry.
To avoid this, make sure you have systems set in place to communicate regularly with business customers who have placed an order with you. According to RSR research from a June 2015 report, “More than 90 percent of retailers believe that real-time inventory visibility across the enterprise is crucial to delivering seamless customer experiences.”
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.