Order fulfilment may be a time-consuming and complex process. Getting your product into customers’ hands takes significant strategy, effort, and technology. According to Delivery Benchmark Report 2022, 70% of UK customers are less likely to shop with retailers after having a bad delivery experience.
Developing an effective order fulfilment process is vital to make sure that customers get their products quickly and without issues. Optimising your order fulfilment process can improve delivery times and order accuracy.
A streamlined and efficient approach from the I-Fulfilment team can help. In this post, we will explain order fulfilment and go through the significant steps of the order fulfilment process.
What is Order Fulfilment?
The process of receiving, packaging, shipping, and delivering an order to a customer is known as order fulfilment. Due to the numerous distinct features of each company, there is no all-encompassing approach that works for every business. There are four models for order fulfilment if you need to fulfil orders.
- In-house fulfilment: This method entails completing all steps of the fulfilment process internally. If you choose this way, you must invest in fulfillment center space, software, automation, and labour for order fulfilment.
- Third-party fulfilment: This is the ideal option if you find it difficult to fulfil orders internally. Outsourcing order fulfilment to a third-party logistics business (3PL) helps reduce order fulfilment’s expensive and time-consuming process. Using a reliable 3PL like I-Fulfilment gives you more time to advertise your brand and concentrate on business.
- Dropshipping: It is the simplest order fulfilment model to implement. Simply make an order with your supplier, provide your customer’s address, and the products will be transported directly to them.
Furthermore, using a third-party logistics provider is an excellent ground between dropshipping and fulfilling your orders. A 3PL can assist you in running your business as efficiently as possible. The picking and packing will be handled for you, but you will still be able to personalise your branded packaging and will be able to assist you with quality control or any other issues.
- Hybrid: A hybrid fulfilment model combines two or more of the preceding methods. Combining these methods can help you create the most unique and customisable order fulfilment technique for your business. You can mix in-house fulfilment and dropshipping by completing the majority of the fulfilment yourself until it’s time to ship. Alternatively, you may offer a third-party company complete management while sourcing dropshipping from another.
- A micro fulfilment centre: It is a small or medium-scale storage facility that is used by eCommerce businesses to store their inventory closer to the end consumer so they can reduce cost and transit times. These fulfilment centres are often highly automated, helping to improve operational efficiency.
We specialise and encourage Hybrid or micro solutions that can, in many cases, offer a competitive edge to a business. Our technology offers multiple features to make this possible.
No matter what products you offer, don’t take order fulfilment lightly. Before developing an internal process or selecting a 3PL, consider all steps below and their associated challenges. Remember that the ultimate goal of the order fulfilment process is to deliver products to customers on time and accurately.
What Does the Fulfilment Process Look Like?
You may be considering outsourcing eCommerce order fulfilment to a 3PL at this point, but what exactly does that entail? What happens in a fulfilment centre may appear mysterious, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what a 3PLs fulfilment centre process looks like;
You can hand over the baton to your 3PL to store your products and have them ready to process straight after a sale. They will pick, pack, and ship your orders on your behalf, and many fulfilment companies also provide returns management services. With I-Fulfilment, you have more time and energy to devote to growing your business, marketing, networking, sourcing new products and partners, and so on.
Inventory management is important for running a business because you must strike a balance between ensuring there is enough stock to meet demand and not overpaying for storage you don’t require. You’ll also be able to see which channels are performing well and which require more attention.
Blade IMS (our market-leading Fulfilment and Logistics software) has been designed and developed to control the fulfilment process, from inventory management to controlling orders across multiple channels.
When you send an order to your 3PL, it is immediately assigned to a fulfillment center picking team or a picker. The picking team is given a picking list that includes the items, quantities, and storage locations at the facility so that they can collect the ordered products from their respective locations.
Some 3PLs require you to upload orders manually to their system. However, there are 3PLs that can integrate with your online store and automatically push orders to your fulfilment provider, like I-Fulfilment.
Once all orders have been selected, they must be securely packed. Packing materials may be charged by some 3PLs, while others have included them in their fulfilment services. Your 3PL will select packing materials that will protect your products and achieve the appropriate dimensional weight, which is calculated by multiplying the package length by the width and the height.
Boxes, bubble mailers, poly bags, packing tape, bubble wrap, air-fill, and other dunnage are examples of these materials. If you prefer to keep your brand in the spotlight, some 3PLs will allow you to stock your own custom boxes or use plain brown boxes. We can rework your products to meet your needs through our extensive experience, advanced facilities, and highly skilled staff.
Delivery of Products
All 3PLs in the UK are required to buy shipping labels from shipping carriers on behalf of the merchant.
Some fulfilment providers work with preferred carriers, while others compare shipping costs from a diverse selection of carriers. The latter ensures that any given shipping option has the most affordable and effective pricing possible.
One significant advantage of outsourcing fulfilment is that major carriers pick up orders directly from 3PL fulfilment centres and ship them. You will receive order tracking information once your order has shipped. Depending on the technology used by the 3PL, you can either manually or automatically share this information with customers.
How to Improve Your Order Fulfilment?
Developing a streamlined order fulfilment process is essential for retaining customers and preserving your competitive advantage. Order fulfilment experts like I-Fulfilment can help ensure greater customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and lower costs as we move forward into the digital-first economy.
There are various recommended practices to keep in mind to improve your order fulfilment procedures.
Choose a 3PL provider
The first step in any order fulfilment strategy is to select a fulfilment provider that is tech-enabled, such as I-Fulfilment. It’s one of the most crucial decisions you’ll have to make because you’ll be putting a significant amount of trust in their abilities.
I-Fulfilment is a team of experts who work on order processing and have the necessary equipment and capabilities. We provide efficient processes and faster deliveries, something that your customers will value with their reviews.
Choose the Location of the Fulfillment Center Wisely
The location is critical when selecting a fulfillment center solution. Initially, most eCommerce retailers look for a “fulfillment center near me.” In many cases, this is not the best option. Instead, look for location-based fulfilment close to your target market. Shorter shipping distances, after all, imply shorter shipping times, lower shipping costs, and a lower environmental impact.
Enhance End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility
On an international level, monitoring the process from purchase to shipping is called end-to-end supply chain visibility. On the order management system, both merchants and suppliers should be able to see real-time inventory and fulfilment procedures. The visibility of the supply chain also increases post-shipment customer service and satisfaction.
Make Use of Micro Warehousing
Micro fulfilment centres are small facilities situated near your customers. Many merchants and eCommerce retailers are resorting to micro warehousing, which can be either a series of small storage locations in different geographical locations. This help automates the process and improves inventory management efficiency, and accomplishes shipments quicker.
Retailers may locate their inventory in micro-fulfilment centres closer to end customers to deliver products quickly. Micro-centre fulfillment centers are a cost-effective option for merchants since they optimise vertical shop space, lowering inventory costs.
Communicate with Your Fulfillment Centers and Customers
When it comes to order fulfilment, communication is always crucial, particularly if you use third-party fulfilment services. You must ensure that workers carry out their duties in accordance with your instructions. In terms of customer communication, retailers may send emails with the most recent order status and shipping tracking information.
If your business has reached the point where the fulfilment function is regularly reaching full off-peak capacity, an outsourcing review should be a top priority. Whether you are a small business operating from home or a large corporation, ensuring that your fulfilment and logistics run smoothly will maximise your ROI on customer acquisition costs.
The best fulfilment company can simplify your inventory management and order fulfilment functions while improving the customer experience. Outsourcing fulfilment gives you more time and resources to concentrate on what truly matters, whether on sales and marketing or improving new products.
Contact us today to consider what your company needs to grow and look at the advantages of why many customers and businesses prefer to outsource and streamline their operations with our I-Fulfilment team.