It’s the age-old saying for online store operators: you are only as efficient as your order and fulfillment process can make you. By that, it is implied that many stores struggle to sustain growth because they are simply unable to fulfill the orders that are streaming in, as they grow.
Say that you own a smaller online store, and let’s say that you were fulfilling about 10 orders per day, spending about an hour or two fulfilling them. What if you were to grow so rapidly that you needed to now fulfill 20-35 orders per day? Suddenly, you are spending four hours fulfilling orders, and now that time is either gone from your day or you are working overtime.
Now let’s just say that your store continues to grow. As you hit 50-plus orders per day that need to be fulfilled, it’s easy to understand how you can quickly get behind. Thankfully, technology does indeed have the answer for this common e-retailer dilemma. Keep reading to learn some tips on how you can ease your order and fulfillment process while using the benefits of technology to your advantage.
One: Create a Powerful Order & Fulfillment System
The first place that you should examine is your actual order and fulfillment process. For example, if you are using two systems for it, one to print your packing lists and one to print your shipping labels, you really should augment that with one system. Explore your options with a multi carrier shipping software system solution for order management. The best solutions eradicate the two system, copy-and-paste method, replacing it with one more intuitive system that automatically imports your orders from your shopping cart, allowing you to reduce order errors and more easily fulfill your orders as they come in.
Prepare for Your Busy Season in Advance
The last thing that you want to be left doing is scrambling to catch up once the holiday shopping season is upon you. To best avoid this dreaded mish-mash, make sure you plan well ahead of time. If you are planning on integrating a new software solution to ease your order and fulfillment woes, such as is outlined in the aforementioned tip, then make sure you integrate early on. This will give you ample time to prepare and familiarize yourself with the system, while negating confusing errors or wasted time during the peak of your season. Communicate with your vendors in advance and assure that you have the packing supplies that you will need, and that you also have any shipping carriers you plan on using in place, to facilitate better fulfillment of your orders.
Integrate Logistics into Order Management
What kind of logistics can you incorporate into your order management system? For starters, good software for shipping with multiple carriers can offer integrations that enable you to include order and inventory management and even accounting solutions. This allows you to better track your inventory levels at all times, so you can reorder in time before having to post out-of-stocks. In addition, software can also allow you to incorporate automated logistics that save you time and improve upon retention; like being able to instantly update customers with their shipping status and tracking number, including comments.
Procure Discount Shipping Rates
The bottom line for many e-retailers is their cost of shipping. The conundrum that this creates is that cheap shipping is what your customers want (in fact, according to studies, about 80% desire free or cheap shipping; and this will impact your sales if you do not offer it). With handy rate comparison tools, you will be able to click and compare rates from all major U.S. carriers. So if UPS is charging too much, you can click and find out whether FedEx or USPS offer a better rate. In addition, automation can be set-up to integrate a rule set for size and weight-based packages, which means that you could automate many aspects of getting the best shipping rates just from your software solution.
Automate Your Shipping Process
The goal of automation is the key here. A good multi-carrier shipping software program, will take care of many of the most tedious and time consuming tasks for you, like importing your orders, generating shipping labels, comparing rates, integrating a returns process, and even exporting data to your accounting program. As you can quite plainly see, for serious ecommerce shopkeepers, technology does have a good solution for improving your order and fulfillment while sustaining your future growth.