Imagine you want a gift delivered to a special date and you don’t have it on time. Aren’t you happy? Think, no. Shipping and delivery are always a headache for an online retailer because it isn’t actually his work share that pertains to the area of control with a third party – delivery company or a courier service. The role of eCommerce entrepreneur here is to find reliable partners and track their performance to give the customer the best experience. In this post, we will give you some insights on how the order fulfillment system can be arranged and what you can gain from setting up your eCommerce business and, particularly, order fulfillment system, properly.
In eCommerce, there is one concept named as Customer Expectations. It can be written in a form:
What was expected – What was obtained * Do I still need this?
Management of customer expectations is crucial. If the customer doesn’t need the ordered product anymore because it was a gift for some event and the order was not delivered on time, it’s of no use, even the delay in delivery was only two days. For an online retailer that case implies a bad customer experience and the loss of customer loyalty. Today’s unhappy customer of your company is the customer of your competitors tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that you don’t personally deliver goods, it is the online merchant’s responsibility to deal with the delivery companies and courier services to ensure the order is successfully fulfilled.
But what does actually the order fulfillment means?
Order fulfillment is the way that customers’ orders are managed and delivered by an enterprise. With the right capabilities, a company can manage its entire order fulfillment process, improve customer satisfaction and make the supply chain more efficient.
Delivery is one but not the only part of the overall fulfillment process.
What are the other parts of the order fulfillment process?
Here are they:
- Inventory classification.
- Matching inventory and storage.
- System automation for cost reduction.
- Slotting inventory.
- Orchestrating and mapping workflows for higher cost-effectiveness.
- Integration with other shipping and payment systems to increase visibility.
Let’s figure out how each part can be implemented in an example.
How to improve order fulfillment?
Imagine a customer going online to purchase a gift for a birthday in an online store. There are many options for fulfilling an order that can dictate the level of satisfaction and your venture overall profitability. It is obvious that you should apply an order management system to automate the process and keep all the processes in one place for better fulfilling the order. Having such a system in place, you can examine inventory across all locations such as stores manufacturers or the supply chain. With this clear vision, the order can be fulfilled in a way that best meets customer preferences.
Isn’t it the ultimate retailer’s business objective?
Now, let’s go back to our customer willing to order a product and have it to some specific date. Call him Jack. Jack goes online and sees in your marketplace that his gift is available not only in stores near his home but also from several distribution partners and warehouses.
With the order management system embedded into your website, you’ve got a single view of all inventory regardless of location and can make well-informed decisions on how to fulfill the order, how to prioritize the fulfillment by cost, physical location or customer demand history. The order management system functions as a repository for all this information with the ability to act on it to save the enterprise money. To make the order management system work, creating business rules is required. For example, you can set a rule like always fulfill an order from the nearest possible source. It will apply in the case of gift delivery as the order should be fulfilled to a particular date, the quicker is better. You can assign such a rule as pick up at a nearby store. That solution can also satisfy Jack’s expectations when he doesn’t mind taking the order by himself from a physical store. Independently of the choice, a good practice would be to additionally set up push-up notifications both for vendor and customer informing about delivery.
Extra gains for eCommerce
Meeting Jack’s expectations will give you a loyal customer in the future. Next time, by analyzing his purchase history and profile, you can offer him a certain brand or the latest version of some of his favorite items. Once again, your shipping system should be in place to match product expectations, whatever they are: color, size or production date. If you don’t have the right product variation in stock, then at least you should have the inventory visibility capability to easily find the required product at a nearby store and ship it directly to the customer’s door without losing any part of the order. The happy customer drives profitability for the store, and the order management system using total inventory visibility makes the enterprise more efficient and helps the online retailer to make proactive decisions. A common platform with the built-in shipping and payment methods ensures the real-time orchestrating product fulfillment processes and keeps every team member in the company informed of the tasks needed to meet the customers’ delivery expectations.
- Set up free shipping for some specific product (a good tool to attract more customers) or when order total exceeds a certain value.
- Assign real-time methods for shipping.
- Set up Australia, Canada, Swiss Post, DHL, FedEx, USPS, and other postal services.
- Let customers pick up orders from the store.
- Assign managers to orders and manage the credit card information from the order.
- Manage sales tracking numbers.
- Set up order notification emails.
- Manage return requests.
- Print packing slips, and more.
In addition, with Simtech Development you can connect additional services that are not included by default. We’ve already helped entrepreneurs from all over the world by integrating additional shipping and payment systems they want.
If you now are not ready for a customized solution, we got some ready-made CS-Cart extensions. Using them, you’ll be able to:
- Add fully customizable pop-ups to your store
- Specify preferable delivery date and time interval to receive orders.
- Display a shipping fee estimation block on the product page.
If you still need help in improving your order fulfillment process, drop us a line and we will get in touch with you!