The customer bases that shop online are usually doing so because of the ease and convenience. This comes with the expectation that their orders will come in a timely manner, without any errors. This hinges on having a flawless order fulfillment strategy. Whether you’re a small ecommerce business owner, a mid-sized enterprise, or an already established business, order fulfillment issues are a common encounter.
Ecommerce order fulfillment refers to the processes of the final stages of the supply chain. This includes warehousing and inventory storage, picking, packing, and shipping of the products to the end-user, and even returns processing. Easier said than done, this process can be highly complicated and stressful.
It’s no wonder that businesses occasionally stumble in their fulfillment processes. However, identifying common issues and their solutions can pave the way for smoother operations.
Common Order Fulfillment Issues for Businesses
The following are some frequently occurring order fulfillment issues that businesses face, and suggestions on how to solve them:
Poor Inventory Management
Taking orders from customers is committing to delivering the ordered product on time – it’s what your customers expect! However, if your stock levels are inaccurate, or you’ve run out of popular items, this will negatively impact the buying experience.
Having an in-house warehouse management might lead to mismanagement and mistakes, making it difficult to accurately fulfill the number of online orders coming in. Your customers order on the pretext that the product is available, but if they don’t receive it, they lose the trust they placed in you in the first place. This will affect the customer experience, and can end up hurting brand loyalty and reputation.
Solution: Consider partnering with a third-party fulfillment provider. Their advanced warehouse management systems and fulfillment software can accurately track inventory in real-time, ensuring that stock levels are both transparent and accurate.
Time-Consuming Pick-And-Pack Process
Even with accurate inventory data, inefficiencies can arise in the picking process. Disorganized warehouses can slow down workers, leading to delays.
Solution: Implement a categorized inventory system. Organizing products in a system can expedite the picking process. Leveraging distribution software offered by fulfillment companies can further streamline this.
Incorrectly Filled Orders
Sometimes, because of mislabeling or errors in the picking process, customers receive items they didn’t order. Worse, items they did order could end up missing from their packages! This not only results in perceived poor customer service, but also added costs in rectifying the mistake.
Solution: Utilizing outsourced fulfillment through a third-party logistics company can provide you with order fulfillment services that help you manage your warehouse layout. Inventory is tracked using barcodes. With more than one touch-point, your products are double-checked to ensure that the labelling and product inside is the same. This minimizes errors and in turn, boosts profitability.
Even if every internal process is efficient, external factors like carrier delays or logistics issues can result in late delivery times, damaging your brand’s reputation.
Solution: Use multiple shipping partners or consider a backup logistics plan. Offering customers real-time tracking can also manage their expectations and keep them informed.
Complicated Return Process
Returns are inevitable, but a cumbersome return process can deter customers from shopping again.
Solution: Simplify and clearly communicate your return policy. Consider offering prepaid return labels and easy-to-follow instructions to make the process as hassle-free as possible.
High Shipping Costs
Overly high shipping fees can deter potential customers from completing a purchase. Or, if the business is absorbing some of the cost, it can have a seriously negative impact on the bottom line.
Solution: Offer transparent shipping rates upfront, or consider flat-rate or other shipping options. Negotiating bulk rates with shipping carriers or utilizing a third-party logistics provider’s industry connections can also help in offering competitive shipping prices.
Scaling Order Volume and Growth Challenges
As ecommerce businesses flourish and experience rapid growth, they can encounter unique challenges in scaling their order fulfillment processes. What was once manageable order volumes can quickly grow to a point where in-house fulfillment efforts strain the business’s resources.
Not only does this sudden surge in orders demand greater warehousing space, but handling, packing, and shipping can become more complex. The consequence? Businesses end up diverting significant resources and time to manage fulfillment. This is often at the expense of focusing on strategies for further growth, product development, or marketing efforts.
Moreover, as the volume of orders grows, the risk of errors also increases. These mistakes might include incorrect shipments, delayed deliveries, or inventory mistakes. Like previously mentioned, these can erode customer trust and negatively impact the brand’s reputation.
Solution: Partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider can be a game-changer for scaling ecommerce companies. Here’s how:
- Expertise and Experience: 3PLs bring a wealth of experience in handling order fulfillment for a diverse range of businesses. They have the knowledge to preemptively identify potential scaling challenges and the expertise to navigate them efficiently.
- Advanced Infrastructure: A key advantage of 3PLs is their robust infrastructure. They have large warehousing spaces equipped with the latest technology, allowing businesses to effortlessly scale their storage needs without major capital investments.
- Efficient Processes: 3PLs have established systems in place for systematic picking, packing, and shipping orders. They are equipped to handle large volumes of orders with precision and speed. This ensures customers receive their orders on time and in perfect condition.
- Cost Savings: By outsourcing fulfillment to 3PLs, businesses can achieve economies of scale. 3PLs can often negotiate better shipping rates, handle bulk orders efficiently, and reduce overhead costs related to warehousing and personnel.
- Focus on Core Business: With a trusted 3PL handling the intricacies of order fulfillment, businesses can redirect their attention to core operations. Be it expanding product lines, marketing strategies, or entering new markets, you’ll have the time needed for the important things.
The Best Solution for Order Fulfillment Issues
Handling the logistics of your ecommerce operation can be a challenge, especially when balancing growth with order fulfillment. But if you’re facing some of these order fulfillment issues, there’s a turnkey solution that can help.
Shipfusion provides comprehensive fulfillment services, enabling you to concentrate on business growth. With easy system integrations, a streamlined setup process, and committed Account Managers to help you with any issue along the way, we ensure your logistical needs are consistently met.
To explore how we can enhance your order fulfillment process, schedule a consultation with a Shipfusion fulfillment expert today.