When you’re in the business of selling goods, one of the top priorities you have as an entrepreneur is to aim for the best customer service. This, after all, speaks of so much. Happy and satisfied customers are the best marketing agents for any business.
There are many ways to ensure your customers are satisfied, one of which is by streamlining your order fulfilment process. Take a moment to think about your business’ current order fulfillment process. After a customer place an order, how long does it take before the product arrives at their doorstep? Do your customers enjoy a smooth and obstacle-free process of placing orders on your physical store or website? Will they get assistance if they encounter issues upon receiving the order? Are you making use of software and apps, like a DOM system, to aid you in your order fulfillment process?
While there are many solutions to improve this, automation seems to be the most efficient one. Not sure how to get started with automating your order fulfillment process? Here’s a run-through of some ideas.
Understand The Order Management Workflow
That big switch from a manual order fulfillment process to an automated one can’t be done successfully if your team doesn’t have a full grasp or understanding of your order management workflow. Remember your goal here is to put your business on a level playing field with your competitors. This entails going back to basics to strengthen the foundation of your automation process.
While every company may have a unique process, it would usually consist of five basic steps. Study yours carefully, so you can identify which areas within each step can be easily automated from your end:
- Taking the order
- Processing the order
- Preparing or packing the order
- Shipping and delivering the order
- Handling any post-delivery or post-sale issues
Get to know the Common Struggles in Order Fulfillment
Now that you have insights on the five general steps in order fulfillment, it pays to know what the common struggles in these areas are. This is a very important step, as it’s usually within these struggles that you can find the need to automate. To give you an idea, some common bottlenecks that businesses experience in the order fulfillment process include:
- Unfulfilled orders
- Inefficient tracking methods for customers
- Products are damaged when they’re shipped and loaded
- Inventory is consistently out of stock
- Wrong products are shipped
Human error in any of the above problem areas is inevitable, especially once you’re starting to handle large volumes of orders. If you can automate any of those processes, you can reduce the likelihood of human errors and improve problem areas.
Provide Real-Time Inventory Updates
Delays in the order fulfillment process can actually be avoided when you’re able to provide real-time inventory updates. Make those updates connected and visible on your e-commerce website so that your customers are also updated about their orders.
Once an order is placed, make it a point that your stock count is automatically being updated as well. This can prevent the onset of unpleasant situations where you’ll have customers complaining that the orders they placed were never processed and received because they were already out of stock.
So, make sure that your e-commerce platform actually syncs with your backend applications, so that updates can be made in real-time. If you’re using different systems, consider consolidating all those as well, so as to avoid confusion.
Keep Open Lines of Communication with your Customers
Whenever your customers have concerns, they should be able to contact you immediately. An automated system can also be used for this purpose by implementing customer relationship management software. This makes it easier for your team to monitor any communication done with your customers, to ensure that concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
Communications must be opened the moment a user enters your website or platform. They don’t even have to be a customer just yet. Some of your leads might need help with the products or need guidance with the order process. Even after the orders are processed and received, you must still keep your lines open since customers might have follow-up complaints and feedback.
The order fulfillment process isn’t as straightforward as it seems. From the perspective of the consumer, all they have to do is to follow the steps accordingly until the time when they make it to the final payment gateway of your page.
From the business’ perspective, however, there are so many things to accomplish—from confirming the order, processing, packing the product, shipping, and more so the acceptance of payments. Making manual accounts of all those orders won’t be sufficient, particularly once your business starts to grow exponentially. This is where automation kicks in.
Automation will help improve the order fulfillment process of your business. Aside from streamlining every step of the process, you also get to serve your customers in a timely and more efficient manner—improving customer satisfaction in the long run.
Jason is the Marketing Manager at a local advertising company in Australia. He moved to Australia 10 years back for his passion for advertising. Jason recently joined BFA as a volunteer writer and contributes by sharing his valuable experience and knowledge.
Leave a Reply