In 2020, the world was forever changed by a global pandemic. Physical doors were closed, and the world of eCommerce became wide open, the only outlet for a suddenly restricted society’s utilitarian and hedonic needs. Almost overnight, companies found themselves having to stay on top of a massive influx of orders. While, hopefully, the worldwide situation has calmed, people have become accustomed to their orders being processed quickly and efficiently.
The bottom line is that, without order fulfillment, there is no business. You can have the best website, the kindest customer support, highly customized order forms, but if, in the end, the customer does not get what they ordered, you are sunk.In this article, you will find actionable steps helping you to optimize your order #management system (OMS), ensuring your #company continues thriving. Click To Tweet
Implement an ERP
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems help plan and manage your supply chain, keeping track of cost, orders, payments, manufacturing, and shipping.
A good example of these systems at work are apparel ERP systems, which can manage multiple sales channels, divisions, warehouses, and suppliers, while at the same time tracking line sheets, shipping costs, labor expenses, and managing automated purchasing, raw materials, and project cost actualization. Using ERP ultimately cuts time and operational cost through automation, which, in turn, almost entirely eradicates order processing and fulfillment errors.
Watch your inventory
There is a delicate balance between having just enough stock to satisfy demand and having enough money to buy that stock. Have too much stock and risk no investment returns – have low stock and risk being unable to fill orders.
ABC analysis is often used to categorize products by the significance of their impact on overall inventory cost and is commonly integrated with ERP systems.
Using historical sales data gathered through sales tracking software can also help identify trends, helping to predict which products will be in demand and when.
Optimize your warehouse
From the layout, to how it is stocked, to the tools used, a warehouse needs to be planned out to the last inch. Optimized slotting will lead to shorten picking times, ensuring more orders are processed throughout the day.
Maximizing storage, removing obstacles, and increasing visibility will enable workers to move freely and efficiently, with the potential for congestion reduced to a minimum. Incorporating barcoding equipment will improve accuracy and add to the automation already implemented with ERP.
Monitor your metrics
Metrics present invaluable data by tracking the status of a process. This can help reveal gaps in some areas while also highlighting upticks in others. Selecting the right metrics to track for your particular business is an intimidating task, but the ones listed below should provide a starting point:
- Gross margin
- Average order value (AOV)
- Retention rate
- Abandonment rate
- Return rate
- Order error rate
- Customer satisfaction
- Repeat customer rate
Keep customers in the loop
Gone are the days of simply telling your customer “Your order has been shipped”. Customers will return to the business with which they feel heard and taken care of.
Providing notifications as their order is processed, shipped, and delivered will remove the perceived risk of online ordering, solidifying your customers’ trust in your brand. At the same time, give your buyers a way to contact you with any questions or concerns about both your offer in general and their order in particular.
Offer returns and refunds
Things are bound to go wrong; customers will change their minds sometimes. Making the return and/or replacement process as easy as possible for both the customer and yourself is essential. Clearly listing your return policy is the obvious first step.
Some considerate details that will improve the customer experience are:
- Pre-printed return labels
- Free return shipping
- A longer return time limit (within reason)
- A simple step-by-step return guide
- No-hassle refunds
Streamline your website
All this work you put in will be in vain if a customer can’t navigate your website and find what they’re looking for.
A clean, simple but attractive website, with an integrated search function and cross-platform compatibility, is no longer restricted to a select few – it has become the norm.
Information transparency, such as listing additional costs (shipping, tax) and a simplified checkout process will significantly reduce the dreaded shopping cart abandonment rate.
With advancing technology, customer demands advance as well, and what they expect from your business – speed, efficiency, trust – loses room for mistakes. By automating your process, offering transparency and connection, your business can meet the challenges presented by the new, more technologically literate consumer base. What’s more, having your order management streamlined, from your website to your warehouse, can even keep you ahead of the curve.