UK online sales are set to continue to rise, with 2016 seeing £133bn spent in online retail.
Trading in such a competitive environment means that businesses need to stand out in order to reach their growth potential. A surveyed 1 in 2 european shoppers experienced a problem with their online order in 2016 – this indicates that staying ahead of competition could be as simple as ‘getting it right’.
Here, at Quantum Marketing Services, we like to believe that a robust order fulfilment process makes a difference to customers. It helps to cut down on errors, increases the speed customers receive their goods and leads to happier customers. Happier customers are more likely to become returning customers and loyal to your brand – which in turn will help you stay ahead of your competition.
Order fulfilment is the process of getting a product from the seller to the buyer. Depending on the size of the product as well as the quantity of products sold will have a bearing on your order fulfilment process.
Below we have outlined the basic key stages in the order fulfilment process.
A company’s products can range from physical goods to cyber goods.
Physical goods will require storage in a secure place, such as a warehouse, suitability of storage will depend on size of products you are selling and scalability of the warehouse facilities to meet your business needs.
Alongside the secure storage of your products you will also require a system that enables you to manage and track your inventory. Stock control is an important aspect of an ecommerce business, you will need to ensure that stock is always available for processing as soon as a customer places an order.
There are many methods of stock control, the best solution for your business will take into account the size of your business, how your customers place their orders and what systems are already in place at the storage facilities.
The next key phase in the order fulfilment process is the customer buying your product. Purchasing can be carried out in many different environments including online and in person.
The purchasing phase may be lengthy if the product involves multiple phases, or if it is a customised order.
Whichever way your customer chooses to purchase your product you should optimise the experience as much as possible at all stages of the buying cycle.
Once an order has been received and understood it will need to be collated and prepared for dispatch. The processing stage of the order is a very important stage that is required to be carried out quickly, efficiently and accurately.
Products not being handled correctly may be damaged prior to shipping and incorrect collation of orders will lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Understanding of your product is essential to ensure that it is handled correctly and packed adequately to reduce breakages throughout the order process.
Packaging of the product for distribution is often carried out electronically by large retailers, however smaller sellers may not be able to start out with this type of solution. Orders picked and packed by hand can be packaged according to your preference. There are numerous different packaging types and your decision should be based on suitability for the product and also its reflection of your brand values.
Throughout the order fulfilment the stock control system should be kept up to date so that stock levels are accurate and the order is tracked throughout the stages.
Delivery of the order is usually identified at the point at which the customer places the order and there are normally multiple delivery options.
A good supplier relationship with your delivery provider will ensure that your customers receive the best service along all touch points of the order fulfilment process.
Your customers can easily be kept abreast of the status of their delivery either through your own customer portals, third parties’ portals or courier’s online tracking methods.
You will be forgiven for thinking that this is the end of the order fulfilment process – this stage should prompt customer services and response handling, especially if you offer after sales care with your product.
Customers can leave product reviews across many platforms and these will need to be monitored and responded to accordingly.
Alongside the customer side of the transaction, internal stock controls will need to be reviewed to ensure that the product level is updated accordingly.
Quantum Marketing Services can provide a complete, bespoke solution for your order fulfilment needs from warehousing and storage through to after-care customer support. Contact us today to find out more.