Your order fulfillment process is a critical part of keeping your business moving forward smoothly. You want to receive orders, pack them, and ship them out in as effective a manner as possible to help improve overall customer satisfaction. Are you working to improve your sales order fulfillment process? There are several key steps you may want to take.
If you want to improve your order fulfillment process, it’s critical that you know what inventory you have on hand. If you do not have inventory in stock of a specific item, you need to provide that information to your customers before they place the order. They need to know:
Knowing how many items are already backordered can also make a dramatic difference in your ability to deliver on customer expectations. Some businesses will allow clients to continue to place orders even when items are already backordered and the next delivery will not satisfy the current demand. Unfortunately, that can lead to extended delays for customers.
If you want to fulfill orders effectively, it’s important to keep an eye on your demand forecasting practices. Demand forecasting allows you to get a better idea of what customers are likely to ask for before they ask for it. Accurately forecasting customer needs can depend on a number of factors, including:
With effective demand forecasting software, you can incorporate changing demand needs into your inventory planning, which may make it easier for you to deliver on customer expectations.
While you want to keep the right amount of inventory on hand, you also do not want to end up with considerable excess inventory. Unexpected downturns can have a huge impact on your business’s overall profitability. With effective demand forecasting, on the other hand, you can better predict those trends.
Timely, accurate order fulfillment includes the ability to effectively pick orders at an elevated level of overall accuracy. Often, however, inventory is poorly tagged, which means that your pickers are not able to accurately find and pack inventory for customers who are looking for it. That leads to two key problems.
Slowed delivery times can have a substantial impact on your customers’ overall satisfaction. The longer it takes to get those goods in your customers’ hands, the less overall satisfaction you will see from your customers in general.
Sometimes, it can prove very difficult to accurately pick orders when the inventory is not clearly labeled.
Pickers may have to take their “best guess” on the right items, often based on their own arbitrary systems for determining what they are looking at and what characteristics are important to look at. Decreased accuracy can further interfere with customer satisfaction.
Many types of businesses have multiple sites, where you may have different inventory, different processes, or different production.
As your business grows, it becomes increasingly critical to have a system in place that will allow you to effectively manage inventory across all those sites. Sometimes, you may have all the inventory you need to handle a customer’s orders spread across multiple sites.
If, however, your inventory management system does not provide you with insights into every site, you may end up assuming that you do not have the right inventory on hand, which could delay customers’ orders and increase the odds that they will turn elsewhere for their needs.
A multi-site management system lets you have full insight into what inventory is available at each site, including physical stores, warehouses, and production facilities. It also allows you to keep up with whether one site may have excess inventory or how you can most effectively move inventory between sites to get the best results for your customers and your business.
If you want to improve your sales fulfillment order process, look for bottlenecks in your existing process. Where do things slow down or stop altogether? Where do you need to introduce additional support, often in the form of additional employees or tools, to help encourage movement past that point and make it easier for you to deliver on client expectations?
Some bottlenecks are within your control: problems like poor inventory control, frequent inventory discrepancies, or inadequate staffing at your location.
Others, however, may be outside your immediate control: supplier delays, slow transit times, backorders, and more.
Take a look at the bottlenecks in your order fulfillment process and make sure you have a solid idea of what they are. Then, look for ways to circumvent them. Sometimes, that may mean hiring additional team members or using better tools to help you manage and control your inventory. In other cases, you may need to look for tools that will help you circumvent shortages or shipping delays.
Take a look at every step that your orders must go through on the path to fulfillment.
What happens when those orders come into your system? You may print those orders or have them sent to your pickers’ devices. Someone has to pick the order, pack it, and ship it.
Do you have the right number of staff members on hand to handle the order volume you have coming in? Are there are any areas in which you struggle to keep up with demand? How would your order fulfillment cycle look from the outside? By taking a careful look at the key elements of that cycle, you can often create a more effective platform that focuses on meeting customer needs.
Do you need effective inventory management software that will help you better label and track your existing inventory? At StockIQ, we have a variety of inventory management options that can help improve your sales fulfillment process. Contact us today to learn more.
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