Order Fulfilment is the process of receiving an order, picking and packing it and delivering the order to your customer.
The steps of order fulfilment
To be able to send the order to your customer you must have the stock available. Some companies will have the products already available in their home/office/warehouse, some will work on a dropship basis with other brands, and some will use a third party warehouse to hold their stock. When receiving stock from your supplier or manufacturer it's important to check the products for quality control and also to ensure that the expected quantities have been received
Whether you're storing your own products or using a 3PL centre, your items will need to be stored in an organised way so that orders can be fulfilled quickly. Using an inventory system such as Unleashed or Linnworks can greatly improve logistics and will avoid customer disappointment from out of stock items.
Also known as pick and pack, this is the process of locating the item(s) on the order and packing them ready to go to the customer. A lot of fulfilment centres use two separate people or teams to do this process; one to pick the item(s) and one to pack the item(s), this reduces the risk of wrong items being sent dramatically. The unboxing experience is really important in this step, if your customer is happy when they receive your order they're more likely to order again and recommend you to others.
Depending on the size, weight and destination there are a range of couriers and postal services to consider. Most small businesses will be familiar with Royal Mail as these are an affordable option. UK Mail, DHL, Parcelforce and DPD are all popular courier choices. You want to make receiving the parcel as easy as possible for the customer, there's nothing more annoying than having to keep rearranging a courier delivery or having to trapse to the post office.
For online shoppers the ability to return unwanted items is an important factor, so make this process easy by having a clear returns policy online. Some companies also include a returns form or returns label in the parcel to make this process even easier. Once received back, the return must be checked to make sure it is in the original condition, processed back into stock and a refund or exchange issued to the customer.
Outsourcing your fulfilment
When you use a fulfilment centre the whole order fulfilment process from goods in to returns is taken care of for you so you don't need to worry about this side of the business and can instead focus on other things. Many small businesses outsource their fulfilment when they have either outgrown sending parcels from their home/office or if they can no longer effectively keep up with orders.
Are you ready to outsource your fulfilment? Call us on 01903 920526 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org we'd be happy to provide you with a no obligation quote.