In this modern age of e-commerce, it’s all about immediate gratification.
Thanks to next and same-day shipping, buyers are no longer fond of waiting. In fact, 38% of online shoppers will leave their carts if the delivery would take a week.
If you don’t want to lose a considerable chunk of your customers – and the revenue they bring – then you need to know how to optimize e-commerce fulfillment.
Whether you have a small business or a big one, these tips are sure to help you out:
Assess Your Current Status
The only way you can optimize fulfillment is to take a good hard look at your online store.
It’s time to ask yourself these questions:
- Can I fulfill these orders by myself?
- Do I have the time to do so?
- Do I have the extra space to store my inventory?
If the answers to all of these questions are no, then it’s time for you to make an upgrade.
While it’s good to be a hands-on business owner, the presence of fulfillment problems means one thing: you need extra hands on deck.
The obvious option is to hire more people, but you could also outsource these processes to a third-party company specializing in managing inventory, packaging, and shipping.
If your only concern is storage space for your inventory, the Ecom Warrior Academy recommends dropshipping. The product comes from the supplier itself, so you don’t have to worry about storage space. Since it comes with low upfront costs, the business risks are markedly lower, too.
Count Your Stocks
Say that you have enough storage space and manpower for your online store. The next thing you need to do is an inventory of your stocks and your shipment supplies.
The best and easiest way to do so is to make use of electronic inventory tools. While it will take you some time to input the data – especially if you have a lot of products – it’s all worth the time and effort!
A great thing about this platform is that it will let you know when stocks run low. That way, you can place orders before your popular products dry up. Remember, no client wants to see the annoying phrase “out of stock.”
Apart from keeping track of your stocks, you should monitor your shipping supplies as well. Make sure to have an adequate number of boxes, packaging tape, and bubble wrap. You need to make sure that your printer has enough ink cartridges, too!
Unless you can do this yourself, you should assign a specified person to do routine stock inventory. That way, your warehouse doesn’t run out of products and essential shipment supplies.
It’s All About Organization
More than just keeping track of your stocks, you need to make sure that these products are in the right places as well. If your warehouse is not organized, your employees can lose precious time trying to find the items you need to ship.
That said, your items and their locations should be clearly marked. You need to store them according to categories, i.e., Sweaters, Trousers, Shoes, etc.
As for the shelves, each product should be labeled accordingly. These signages will not only ease the shipping process, but it also makes restocking easier. It will also help to put signs around the warehouse that will help direct your workers to the right product location.
Similar to putting a person in charge of stocks, you should delegate the task of organization to another employee. Although this is the case, you should always remind your workers that each person has a role in keeping the warehouse organized.
Apart from improving efficiency, a clean warehouse promotes workplace safety as well.
People love shopping during Christmas, Boxing Day, and other holidays. That said, you should be prepared for the shopping rush during these occasions!
You can get ready by placing your orders way in advance. Remember, you’re not the only one who has got to deal with increased orders – your suppliers deal with the same problem, too.
Making an order at least two to three months before the shopping season ensures that your products arrive in time for the holidays.
Apart from keeping your warehouse well-stocked, your website should be ready as well. You’d want it to load quickly despite the high traffic volume. After all, 40% of users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
If you don’t have an IT professional in your workforce, it’s time to get one – at least for the time being.
More than just ensuring fast load speed, your website should match your inventory. Again, you don’t want to disappoint your clients by saying that the products they purchased are no longer available.
Automation is Key
While having many hands on deck is important, you can further improve the fulfillment process by automating it.
For one, you can match your electronic inventory program with scanners and other devices that help streamline shipment and delivery.
When you automate your processes, you need to ensure that all of your programs can be integrated. If not, these platforms may end up delaying warehouse activity, defeating the purpose of automating processes, to begin with.
Even if you have all your processes streamlined, there’s bound to be some mistakes along the way. As such, you need to be prepared with contingency plans.
For example, if there’s a delay in shipment, you can make it up to the client by offering discounts or free delivery. You can also provide these to customers who are not happy with their purchases.
Should there be returns, you must process this as quickly as you would do shipments.
Remember, it’s hard to acquire customers. If you want to keep reeled, then you need to keep them happy and satisfied!
Optimizing e-commerce fulfillment may be hard at first, but you can make it easier! Apart from following the steps above, it will also help if you heeded the advice of e-commerce experts. Matthew Lepre is among the best when it comes to e-commerce for startups.