The ease of online shopping and the digital world has made consumers much more impatient. The need or want for items to be not only readily available, but quickly available has become somewhat of a requirement to many when choosing where they shop. There is an expectation for technology to get faster and consumers get impatient when they have to wait for items.
Ecommerce customers in particular expect speed from initial product search to purchase, to dispatch and then even more so with delivery times. This demand is reflected in some inner city areas where Amazon prime can offer same day delivery. Price is also, of course, a top priority. Users require the lowest possible shipping cost for the speediest delivery time.
According to Baymard, 50% of online shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if they believe the extra costs (such as taxes, shipping etc) are too high. In terms of delivery times 18% of shoppers would abandon their cart if shipping times were too slow. With only 10% of shoppers concerned about the returns policy it is clear where the customers priorities lie.
You could have an amazing product and expend a lot of time and energy on marketing it correctly to then lose customers at the final hurdle if their expectations are not met. Luckily these issues can be rectified very simply, and you can retain a higher level of customer just by outsourcing your order fulfilment.
What is eCommerce Fulfilment?
The process of order fulfilment ensures that every customer order can be fulfilled, and not only that but completed as efficiently and cost effectively as possible for all parties involved. It involves management of the supply chain, stock management, picking and packing and finally shipping of orders to the customer.
It is a highly effective method used in both B2B for large orders such as wholesale and B2C for individual orders direct to your customer. This can of course be completed in-house or provided by a third party provider, such as Regional Express.
There are many elements to order fulfilment in order to make the process more efficient, here are some of the ways it can help to keep existing customers happy and attract new ones.
This kind of management process includes receiving orders, tracking orders, and the fulfilment of customer orders across all points of sale. There ought to be the ability to manage all orders from multiple platforms in one place to keep a central trace on stock levels and the stage of each order.
Much of this stage can be automated, which is useful for seamless communication between ecommerce outlets and order fulfilment outlets. For example receiving automatic notifications when an order is placed, real – time order tracking and stock levels which are visible to all parties.
Keeping tabs on your stock levels will avoid disappointment when customers come to order and find their desired item out of stock – you don’t want them to take their custom elsewhere where they will find the item in stock!
Outsourcing fulfilment can give you access to much bigger warehousing space, meaning you can have a tighter grasp on your inventory levels and store more product for periods of higher demand such as Christmas or peak sale times like Black Friday, Prime Day and more.
It is a very important part of the order fulfilment process as it allows for forecasting, close monitoring and generally knowing what is working and what is not.
Picking and packing of orders can be an incredibly time consuming task and to outsource this stage of the order timeline can free up some much needed time for you to focus on other areas of growing your business.
Warehouse staff can oversee this process, picking the correct product and ensuring it is packed to pre-agreed standards and instructions in line with your business requirements.
As mentioned above, creating a seamless order tracking process between point of sale and order fulfilment can make the difference to both your business and your customer. If you are both able to track the order at every stage it will help to avoid any issues and also support excellent customer service standards.
This is of particular importance when shipping internationally. An order fulfilment centre will be experienced in shipping restrictions and regulations from country to country, meaning you need not worry about it and can be assured your packages are in safe hands and most importantly that your customer will get the best shipping rates and in the shortest time.
Much like the management of orders going out to customers it is also helpful to have your returns process handled by order fulfilment centres.
This is a service that requires careful planning and it is helpful to know that customers favour a free returns service over one that will charge them if an item is faulty, ordered in error or just not suitable. Outsourcing order fulfilment gives you much more flexibility where this is concerned and will make sure that resellable stock is returned to inventory and stock levels adjusted accordingly.
We know that for the modern customer speed and efficiency is key, patience is at its lowest and customers are at their happiest when they are receiving good quality goods and services, sooner rather than later.
As your business grows it may be in your best interest to look at changing your order fulfilment model. As with many other things it can be helpful to hand over and delegate this large task to a third party in order to free up valuable time you can then invest back into other areas which you feel suit your skills or simply that you enjoy more!