Order management processes begin when a customer places an order, and then the order is forwarded to the store’s inventory, where the fulfillment center team handle the picking, packing, and shipping. The process also includes checking in with the customer to see if they are satisfied with their purchase.
Order processing is critical to order fulfillment because it ensures that customer orders are complete and delivered to the correct location. Order processing can take place in a distribution centre or fulfillment center where pickers, sorters, and packers work in tandem towards the order fulfillment center. This is done by a small group or a single person, depending on the size of the business operations.
Understanding the order management process and how to optimise it for your customers is crucial. Continue reading to learn more about order management and how an effective order management strategy can benefit your business.
What Is Order Processing Software?
An order processing software acts as the centrepiece within order management processes or workflows associated with taking orders in the retail and wholesale business. Processing an order from beginning to completion can be more error-prone than you think, and a minor mistake in any of these areas can throw an entire operation down.
Order processing software stores and distributes order data, check stock availability, and tracks order delivery, which can help ensure orders are filled correctly and on time. This is significant because accuracy and dependability increase customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales.
Stages of the Order Fulfillment Process
The workflow can vary depending on the company’s needs, but a typical order management process includes the following stages:
Receiving inventory is the first step in this complicated process. Despite its apparent simplicity, this component of the supply chain can have an impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. During this initial stage, eCommerce operators must receive products, confirm the number of items, inspect each item, and sort them appropriately.
After receiving the inventory, the next step is to sort the items and store them in a fulfillment center or storage facility in a systematic manner. This course is critical for ensuring efficient order processing. Inventory management should be strategic, transparent, and precise. Failure to be diligent in this process can result in shipping delays and loss of profit.
Order picking must be a strictly controlled process because it directly impacts the overall productivity of the order processing workflow. The sooner orders are correctly picked, the sooner they can be packed and shipped. Organisations generally use various picking strategies to efficiently pick orders, including but not limited to:
- Piece picking- each picker collects the products for one order at a time.
- Zone picking- this is when each picker is in charge of picking items within a specific fulfillment center zone. All items are compiled at the end.
- Wave picking- it’s where you pick multiple orders simultaneously, allowing you to collect items for various orders in one trip.
After collecting the products, they are assembled and packaged for eCommerce. The packing facility is responsible for more than just packing and shipping items. They are also in charge of utilising the appropriate packaging materials for each product so that it arrives to the customer in complete and in good condition while also utilising resources efficiently.
The shipping stage involves transferring outbound goods to an approved logistics partner, who will then deliver the product to the customer. Purchased goods may be sent out individually or in bulk, depending on what is most cost-effective or what the customer prefers.
Order fulfillment does not end when the customer receives their orders. Returns management is important as any other element of the supply chain. Most customers only shop at online stores that have a simple return policy. When a returned item arrives at the fulfillment center, it is inspected for damage. It is returned to storage for a future order if it is still in good condition.
Six Stages to an Effective Order Processing System
The order processing system is a series of steps that a company takes to effectively fulfill a customer’s order. It typically includes six stages:
Use a Standard Order-Taking Form
Using only one form eliminates any internal and external confusion. A standard form should be used whether a customer service representative takes the order over the phone or a client directly fills out a form on your website.
This way, whoever fills out the form understands the required information and ensures that all relevant information is gathered. Some order details, such as colour palettes, volume, or size, may vary depending on the item. Make sure these details are included in the standard form so everyone is on the same page.
Do not Accept Incomplete Order Forms
It is important for companies not to accept incomplete order forms, as this can lead to errors and delays in the order processing system. To avoid this, companies should clearly communicate their requirements for completing an order form and provide customers with the necessary information and instructions to ensure that their orders are complete and accurate.
Confirm the Order with the Customer
Confirming the order indicates that you have received the order forms and that you are about to process them. You may send an email with the order details, your contact details, and any other necessary instructions. Make it clear that the customer should contact you for any issues. You can require the customer to verify the order, but this isn’t always necessary.
Distribute the Filled-Out Order Form Internally
This is the time to distribute the form to the departments and personnel who will be in charge of carrying out the order’s specific details, such as the finance team, backroom operations, and manufacturers, depending on the nature of your business.
It is critical to communicate the fulfillment dates to all parties involved so that they are aware of what to expect and how to best adhere to the schedule.
Let the Customer Know About the Order Status
It is critical to communicate clearly with customers throughout the process. Keep them up to date on the status of their order. Instead of keeping customers in the dark about delays or problems, inform them immediately. Once the order has shipped, provide them with the following information: who the carrier is, the tracking numbers, and the estimated delivery date.
Ask for Customer Feedback
Take the time to acquire feedback from the customer after the order has been delivered. Many companies skip this step, but it is one way to learn about your customers’ thoughts and gain insight into how your order processing system can be improved.
If a client is pleased with the service, this is also useful feedback that lets you know you’re on the right track. Having a customer care representative call after doing business is another way to show clients that you value their feedback, increasing the likelihood that they will do business with you again.
How to Streamline Order Fulfillment?
It becomes challenging to handle all orders manually as your business grows and order volume increases. Here are some of the reasons why eCommerce software solutions are important, as well as how order management automation benefits high-volume eCommerce websites.
There is advanced software available to help with order fulfillment. Third-party logistics companies use technology to retrieve products more quickly and accurately and to ship them to the end user as soon as possible.
Businesses can track the end-to-end order fulfillment process and have complete and real-time visibility with Warehouse Management Systems, customer portals, online stores, and integrated resourcing tools. This speeds up the incident resolution and allows issues to be resolved sooner rather than later.
Leverage third-party service providers
Third-party logistic (3PL) providers enable businesses to outsource key aspects of the order fulfillment process. Order fulfillment is a time-consuming and costly process. Companies can outsource order fulfillment to a reputable and experienced provider rather than spending time on the complex process.
This frees up time for the company to focus on strategy, product innovation, and customer satisfaction improvement processes. Warehousing, docking, eCommerce fulfilment, restore store fulfillment, cross-docking, returns, value-added services, and pick and pack services are all provided by 3PL providers.
Utilise I-Fulfilment’s BladePRO
Every business must strive for continuous improvement. Order processing software assists in keeping these processes organised, as well as providing businesses with the ability to integrate with the UK’s leading shipping and 3PL systems.
BladePRO software can optimise order processing and better manage inventory throughout the order life cycle by coordinating and organising all the moving parts of order fulfillment, including the entire order processing workflow.
Our technologically advanced logistics solutions can help your business at every stage of the fulfillment process. We cover everything from sourcing to inventory management to last-mile delivery.
Learn more about our I-Fulfilment logistics services or request a free quote today.