eCommerce is tough. Not only must you source great products, optimize your listings, and get to the top of the search results before your competitors; but when successful, you’ve also got to ship those products out, and fast. Amazon has created a world where fast shipping matters and those falling behind are losing out. Luckily, the eCommerce experts at Expandly know a trick or two about streamlining your eCommerce fulfillment process, and they’re here to explain it all.
The importance of streamlining your fulfillment process
Streamlining your fulfillment process is important – so important, that we’re going to take a minute to quickly look at why you should streamline your fulfillment process, before jumping into how to streamline your fulfillment.
- Customer conversions
- Fast shipping converts. 63% of customers expect fast shipping as standard – if your fulfillment process is slow, sluggish and straight out of 1999, then you’re potentially losing three in every five customers. They’ll abandon their cart quicker than you can pick, pack, or ship – reducing your profits and any ROI from advertising or marketplace fees.
- Customer reviews
- If your fulfillment process is causing delayed or incomplete deliveries, this can result in negative customers reviews. With 95% of online shoppers being influenced by reviews, this can severely damage your brand and impact your conversion rate.
- Of course, a low conversion rate impacts your sales figures, but have you considered the other profit-damaging consequences of an inefficient fulfillment process? The more time spent getting an order from received to the warehouse door, the more money you’re spending on warehousing space, carrier services, and staff time.
- Speaking of time, a poor fulfillment process can be a colossal drain on your already limited time. Time wasted looking for orders, packing items, and handling unnecessary customer complaints; time that could be better spent on growing your business and shipping more orders.
It’s clear that the speed and efficiency of your warehouse are crucial for the success of your eCommerce business – but what should you be aiming for exactly? The goal here is to achieve the ‘perfect order’: offering your customers a combination of shipping options for their order, and delivering that order on time, complete, and undamaged. Sounds like heaven.
How to streamline your fulfillment process for the perfect order
If the heavenly ‘perfect order’ also sounds unattainable, then you need to get streamlining your fulfillment process with:
1. Inventory management software
Inventory management is knowing how much stock you have, how much money is tied up in that stock, and where in the buying journey that stock is. A seller can only sell the items known in stock. Eliminate time wasted looking for missing products or apologizing about unfulfilled orders. This will lower money wasted issuing refunds and goodwill gestures.
Inventory management software makes doing this easy – updating your live stock levels automatically across all of your sales channels – no manual spreadsheets in sight.
2. Integrated eCommerce software
Leading nicely on is the importance of integrated eCommerce software. Running a manual fulfillment process is timely, error-prone, and unnecessary. Integrated multi-channel eCommerce software seamlessly links the different components of your eCommerce operation (including sales channels, inventory, shipping carriers, and Xero accounting) to make the whole process easier and quicker.
Your fulfillment team receives cross-channel orders based on real-time stock information, without logging into different systems. They can then bulk print pick lists and shipping labels to streamline the process even further.
3. Warehouse flow
The next stop is your warehouse. It is amazing how much time is wasted while fulfilling orders from merely walking around a warehouse looking for items and tools. Therefore, ensure that your warehouse is clean, tidy and the layout creates an efficient flow from the PC receiving the orders, to the warehouse door.
- Try implementing hot pick zones for your most popular items.
- Store slow-moving stock out of the way.
- Have dedicated and equipped packing stations.
- Give everyone the responsibility to keep it that way.
4. Warehouse processes
Following your warehouse flow, is your warehouse processes. How many tasks are you carrying out manually because that’s the way you’ve always done it? Make a list of everything you and your staff do to get an order out of the door and then eliminate anything that doesn’t need to be done, can be done in bulk or can be automated.
Your customers can also help to speed up your fulfillment process. Customers are impatient. Customers can’t stop thinking about their purchase and want to know just how much longer it will be. Providing tracking information means that your customers can find this information out by themselves. Thus, relieving you of the pressure of answering calls and emails. Even better, multi-channel management software makes bulk uploading tracking information to multiple sales channels, simple.
When a delivery doesn’t go to plan, first you need to rectify the situation and handle the customer. Then you also need to spend time speaking with your shipping carrier to arrange a refund. Hassle you just don’t need. Refund Retriever does this for you by detecting issues with your shipping and applying for a refund. Thus, saving you both money and time.
Amazon may have created a world where fast shipping matters, but it has also shown you just what a streamlined fulfillment process can achieve with the right tools, software, and support. Happy fulfilling!
Expandly’s multi-channel management software makes fulfilling orders across multiple sales channels easy. Expandly can help with listing, order management, inventory management, shipping label, reporting, and Xero accounting functionality. See for yourself with a free 14-day trial today.