Have you ever thought about what happens between the time you purchase something online and the time it arrives at your doorstep? There are many steps, but they can all be grouped under the heading of order fulfillment.
The order fulfillment process is vital for sales; without it, your e-commerce business likely wouldn’t be able to exist. It’s the reason you don’t have to physically deliver products to customers yourself. That’s why it’s essential to build online order fulfillment strategies that keep your costs low, your productivity high and your buyers happy.
What Is Order Fulfillment?
Online order fulfillment is the storage, packing and shipping of online orders. When a customer places an order, the product fulfillment process is responsible for getting purchases into their hands.
How Does Online Order Fulfillment Work?
What goes on behind the scenes when your product leaves your facility and makes its way to the customer? Here’s a quick overview.
Receiving and Processing Orders
This is where your goods get placed in warehouse inventory. Warehousing is complex and requires precise controls to monitor your business’s products. With a reliable third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Print Bind Ship, items are individually tracked to ensure that they’re in the right place, and you know exactly how many are in stock at any given time.
Picking and Packing Items
In a Print Bind Ship warehouse, we locate the item with our warehouse management system, pick it and securely box it up for shipment. We provide full kitting services to make unboxing an event rather than a chore.
This is another reason having a solid order fulfillment strategy is so important. Working with intelligent partners leads to more consistent and often increasing sales.
Shipping and Delivery Methods
After packaging the item, it’s time to send it to the customer. 3PLs can negotiate the best rates for the shipping portion of order fulfillment, meaning you get lower rates than if you handled the shipping yourself.
Common Challenges in Online Order Fulfillment
Modern order fulfillment strategies have drastically reduced errors, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still headaches to battle.
Print Bind Ship tags items individually and places them in convenient, easy-to-access locations as they come into the warehouse. Our goal is to minimize the possibility of items being lost or damaged.
Thanks to proper inventory management, we know exactly where your goods are and how long it will take to retrieve them, and we can provide real-time information on their status.
Shipping and Handling Costs
Print Bind Ship ensures that orders ship in bulk as much as possible to reduce the number of shipments required. Because we have order fulfillment centers everywhere, we can reduce the time your products are in transit, keeping costs low.
Returns and Exchanges
When a customer wants to return or exchange an item, we take it and put it back into inventory (if possible). Then, we process the return or the exchange without involving you and taking up your time.
Tips for Optimizing Your Online Order Fulfillment Process
The smoother you make online order fulfillment for your customers, the better. Here’s how.
Use Automation Tools and Software
Automation reduces human error and makes various processes more expedient, resulting in faster picking, more accurate item management and real-time monitoring. This information can also be shared directly with the customer.
Utilize Data and Analytics
Collecting user data allows you to tailor your products and customer experience for optimal sales and buyer satisfaction. Analytics can show you customer behavior and preferences, as well as which products are selling, how easily people navigate your online store and how to advertise more effectively.
When you use a reliable order fulfillment partner, you can predict shipping times. Customers love knowing how long it will take to receive an item, and the more you communicate essential info about their order, the more likely they’ll come back and order from you again.
Employ a Fulfillment Audit Checklist
This checklist will allow you to measure the efficiency of each process. Are items being packed safely? How many are damaged in transit? Are shipping estimates matching the real shipping times? Are orders correct? You’ll get answers to all these important questions and more.
Partner with Reliable Shipping and Warehouse Providers
Your 3PL partner should be able to deliver products quickly, provide transparency in its warehousing, offer reasonable shipping times and costs and communicate well. This is, after all, the company you’ll be relying on to get your products to your customers.
Benefits of Working with a 3PL for Online Order Fulfillment
Outsourcing the grunt work of order fulfillment is the entire reason 3PLs exist. Some of the many benefits of working with a 3PL include:
Focus on What You Do Best
As a business owner, you should be able to spend your time optimizing your products and sales strategy, not worrying about each step of the fulfillment process.
Since all those time-consuming packaging and shipping processes (not to mention returns and exchanges) fall on our shoulders, you can more effectively manage your employees and product lines, promoting greater efficiency.
Opportunity to Scale
We work with everyone from small authors self-publishing a few dozen books to clothing brands selling apparel across the globe. However big or small your business, we’re here for you!
More Fulfilling Order Fulfillment with Print Bind Ship
Online order fulfillment requires lots of moving parts. By partnering with Print Bind Ship, you get the expertise and attention to detail you need.
We’ll take your items into inventory, then sort, pick, package and deliver them, letting you focus solely on serving your customers. Contact Print Bind Ship today to make order fulfillment easy.
Fulfillment is the process whereby orders go from sitting in a warehouse to being delivered to customers.
When a customer places an order, the warehouse receives it, picks the correct item, packages it and hands it off to a shipping provider, who then delivers it to the original buyer.
Order fulfillment is a type of logistics, which is a broader term that describes the entire process of raw materials becoming delivered goods.