On the surface, order fulfillment seems like it should be an easy process consisting of a routine method that leaves the customer and everyone involved in the supply chain satisfied with the end result. However, there are stumbling blocks when it comes to order fulfillment in the age of next-day delivery, and 3PL companies need to have a system in place to ensure order fulfillment success.
In this article, we will outline 5 of the most important tips that will improve your order fulfillment process.
Transparency is Key
From sellers to 3pl companies, to customers, and everyone in-between: if there isn’t clear and transparent communication, things will fall apart quickly. This is true for many reasons, but in the end, it comes down to trust. Demonstrating to all those you work with that you are willing to be transparent about your process is one of the best ways to develop trust.
Luckily, it is now easier than ever to maintain transparency.
Various apps and other forms of technology exist that enable all portions of the supply chain to see where items are at all times and make appropriate decisions based upon this information. But even without advanced technology, transparency can be made easy by devising a system for notifying interested parties when items have reached various stages of the order fulfillment process.
Organization Leads to Success
French chefs have a term: “mise en place”, which translates to “everything in its place”. It is a firm belief of those well-versed in the French culinary arts that for a meal to be successful, all of the necessary tools to make that meal should be in their proper positions. A stray knife or cutting board becomes an impediment that wastes time and decreases the overall quality of the meal.
The same goes for warehouses and the other entities involved in order fulfillment. If the warehouse is a disorganized mess where no one can find anything they need, efficiency will suffer. This inefficiency in turn means that order fulfilments are likely to be delayed, orders may be lost, and in the end, your bottom line will suffer. It is worth the extra time up-front to organize warehouse shelves and to educate staff on where everything can be found.
Focus on the Customer Experience
The customer experience is key to creating lasting loyalty to a brand. If your customers have been kept on hold or told inaccurate information about their product once, they might forgive you. However, if this disorganization and misinformation becomes a habit, it’s likely that you will lose this customer to one of your competitors who makes customer service a priority.
In the end, a good customer experience comes down to honest communication. If a product was lost, let the customer know, and tell them how you will make it right. While they may be upset at the moment, they will likely respect you more in the long run for your candor.
Let Data Inform Your Decisions
You likely gather tons of data points on a daily basis, however, if that data just sits in a document and isn’t used in order to make improvements in your processes, it is of no use as it is not being leveraged properly.
For instance, if you’re seeing consistent evidence that a certain employee is taking double the time to complete his or her assigned tasks during the day, use this data to educate, retrain, or even potentially re-assign them to another task to which they are better-suited or more acclimated. Of course, this is only but one example of many in which data can be directly leveraged in order to improve your order fulfillment process.
With the technology capabilities and knowledge we have available today, there is no reason why data should go unused.
Standardize Your Process
Among all of the other tips mentioned in this article, consistency is one of the most important elements of a successful order fulfillment process. Everyone in your business should know their role and should be able to handle their daily duties without question. If your business treats every order that comes in with random, inconsistent methods; staff will become irritated and exhausted, customers will become frustrated, and your business will not survive.
Maintaining a consistent process effectively solves all of these issues and allows your order fulfillment process to flourish.
While there are many moving pieces in a successful order fulfillment process, the 5 tips listed above are some of the easiest and most intuitive ones that can be applied to any business. As long as you implement a consistent, data-driven, organized, transparent process designed with the customer in mind, your order fulfillment process can be improved in a fairly reasonable amount of time.