Order Fulfillment: What It Is and Why Getting It Right Is Essential for Your Business
Shipping customers’ orders accurately can be challenging. There are many steps in the supply chain journey, and each carries the potential for errors, delays, and wasted monies. From tracking inventory and shipments to generating invoices and deciding on a shipping service, the requirements to deliver a perfect order can be intimidating.
But don’t panic! It’s totally doable.
Understanding what order fulfillment is and how it works is the first step toward improving your process, retaining more customers, and growing your startup.
In this article, we’ll take you through the order fulfillment process so you can understand how it works and how it can significantly impact your business.
What Is Order Fulfillment
The term order fulfillment refers to every step taken by a company from the moment it receives a customer’s order until that order is delivered safely and accurately into the customer’s hands.
Order fulfillment processes vary from industry to industry. A restaurant, for instance, receives an order, prepares the requested food items, packs them, and delivers them to the customer within an hour or so. For other industries, though, the process is not as quick.
For most businesses, the order fulfillment process looks something like this:
- Company receives an order through their online shopping cart or marketplace
- Customer is notified the order has been received and is being processed
- Order goes to warehouse via order management software
- Order is picked, packed, and prepared for shipping
- Order is shipped
- Customer is notified that the order has shipped
- Order arrives at the customer’s preferred location
As you can see, just from the number of steps involved, developing an efficient order fulfillment process is more than crucial to your business. Poor order fulfillment practices can lead to damages, returns, and overall unhappy customers.
How Your Order Fulfillment Process Affects Your Reputation
One of the ways a customer judges a company is by the efficiency of its fulfillment process. A perfect order is one that is correct, complete, arrives on time and is undamaged. More than that, it’s accompanied by the proper paperwork.
When a customer places an order via your website, they’re looking to have that product on their doorstep as soon as possible. They don’t want the worry of receiving the wrong item, dealing with damages, or waiting too long for the order to arrive.
In today’s fast-changing business environment, companies that can’t keep pace with customers’ requirements will fail. Offering your prospects high-quality products, stellar customer service, and fast order fulfillment is paramount if you want a leading edge over your competition.
Imperfect orders not only affect your customers’ satisfaction. They can also increase shipping costs due to the necessity of providing a replacement product. By minimizing flawed orders, you can boost your efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and grow your revenue.
The Right Company Can Make the Order Fulfillment Process as Easy as ABC
Sure, there are a few benefits to managing the order fulfillment process on your own. It’s cheap, flexible, and easy to create a personalized experience for your customer. But as your startup business and your inventory grow, it can become challenging to keep track.
This is precisely why partnering with a fulfillment company can effect a crucial change.
The right fulfillment center will not only handle every single step of the order process for you, but it will also help you penetrate new markets. It can store, organize, and ship your orders more efficiently, thereby reducing the risk of errors and returns. Also, since the fulfillment company has greater negotiation power than you, your costs can be significantly reduced.
Fulfilling orders isn’t easy, and it can make or break your startup in myriad ways. But with the help of order fulfillment companies and state of the art software, startup companies continue to evolve and learn, so delivering perfect orders is now an attainable goal.