Companies should view their Order Fulfillment tools, people, and processes as their last chance to delight a customer in the transaction process. By giving intentional thought and planning to the systems and workflows of your Order Fulfillment, you can ensure it is a net gain for your business.
Order Fulfillment Tools and Processes
Order fulfillment is about more than moving widgets from shelves to boxes to trucks. The right foundation can help your business scale while providing better insights to your performance.
As a business grows, the operational and software needs tend to get more sophisticated as well. A small B2C ecommerce business could run a daily fulfillment out of their garage; a $10 million per year B2C ecommerce business probably needs a team of mulitple people doing pick, pack, and ship processes, keeping tabs on what has and hasn't been fulfilled, responding to customer inquiries, and working with shipping tools to get labels printed and packages prepared to move out the door. Order fulfillment is about more than just software-- it's a discipline that includes how you staff this function, where it's located, how you manage inventory, and, ultimately, how you provide a quality and timely experience to your customers.
GRAYBOX has a lot of customers that are managing warehouses, inventory, and shipments. It's really important to realize that these tools and processes are not just a function of the B2C commerce business. They apply equally to B2B, for anyone who manufacturers, distributes, or otherwise sells physical and digital goods. The notion of "fulfillment" as putting a widget in a box and loading it on the back of the UPS truck is becoming more and more antiquated. It has been replaced by a complex and nuanced web of factors like where your goods come from, where you store them, what's required to get them to your customers, and how you manage and communicate status throughout the process.
There are a lot of factors that will impact how your business approaches order fulfillment, including the type of item you sell, where your business is located, and where your customers are located. For example, your business might simply fulfill out of your business location, shipping via normal parcel service. But if you are shipping large items, you may need warehouses in multiple parts of the country to reduce freight costs and shipping times. If your products are highly competitive on Amazon, you may choose to leverage their FBA services to attempt to attract Amazon Prime buyers. For digital goods, you may need a more involved download, registration, and confirmation process to protect against piracy or unauthorized use. The nuance of your business, your products, and the competitive environment in which you find yourself, are all drivers that dictate factors in your order fulfillment setup.
Additionally, the tools and processes you use can be a key ingredient to satisfying your customers. Many platforms offer basic inventory and fulfillment management, but your business may be better served by leveraging a more detailed breakdown of status and process. Orders that contain multiple items or lots of similar products, for example, are often well served by a pick, pack, ship process. This allows the getting of the items to be separate from putting the items in the package, and separate from getting them weighted, labeled, and on the truck for shipment. These steps allow process controls to ensure your customer gets what they ordered, thus cutting down on the need for downstream customer support overhead, reducing the likelihood of negative reviews about your company, and increasing the likelihood of repeat customers or customer evangelists.
When planning for the logistics of order fulfillment, there are a lot of factors to consider. It's often helpful to engage with experienced consultants like the team at GRAYBOX to help you navigate these waters. Understanding what best practice looks like for others in your industry, as well as best practices that can be adopted from outside your industry to give you a competitive edge, can be a great help to your business. Order fulfillment is often one of the final opportunities a company has to engage with and delight their customers, but it's often relegated to an afterthought in the business process strategy. Instead, let GRAYBOX help you ensure your Order Fulfillment tools and process are a positive influence on your customers for your business.
Fulfillment is more than widgets
Order Fulfillment is about more than just stuffing widgets in boxes. Digital products, customer updates, and validation of the details are all key components to an effective order fulfillment workflow. Software tools are part of the equation, but so many factors are at play.
Process, Tools, and People
Often your Order Fulfillment process is your last chance to delight your customer. Staffing with the right people, empowering those people with the right tools, and implementing an effective and efficient process, are key steps in a successful order fulfillment workflow.
Evaluate Logistics Broadly
Order Fulfillment should be looked at broadly. Warehouse options, 3rd Party Logistics, Software tools, shipping rates -- these are all factors that, collectively, are one of the most impactful aspects of your business.