The best place to beat your competitors is in fulfillment speeds.
There aren’t many things that truly move the needle when it comes to ecommerce conversions. Price is a huge factor, but thin margins across the industry limit how much you can undercut your competitors without tanking your own profits. Brand name has some affect, but that could take years to build. Even then, the Amazon marketplace, the biggest marketplace in the space, doesn’t allow stores to push their brands.
That’s why increasing fulfillment speeds is such an important part of winning conversions. The faster your delivery estimate is, the more likely your shoppers are to convert. There are plenty of common sense, even easy, ways to speed up your fulfillment. We’ll share four ways to increase fulfillment speeds with you right now.
Assemble Kits and Bundles in Advance
Creating attractive kits and bundles are a great higher-level selling method. Combining related products for customers drives up the average value of each transaction. This increases your profits without increasing your overhead.
Mastering the creation of kits and bundles that drive sales is a frontend ecommerce strategy, but is your backend keeping up? Assemble your kits and bundles while they’re in storage to cut down significantly on fulfillment time. Whether you’re fulfilling your own orders or using a third-party fulfillment service like Amazon FBA, it takes longer for orders to be fulfilled if products bundled together are separate at the time the order is received. Physically bundling them in advance will result is less travel time during the picking process.
Establish Target Inventory Levels
I’m particularly fond of a resource in our inventory management system ecomdash called “Target Inventory Level.” This metric establishes the ideal quantity-on-hand for a product to keep fulfillment fast without wasting space and money housing unneeded inventory. Consider the following factors:
- The value of the product.
- The average sales for the product.
- The cost of your purchase orders.
- The average time it takes the purchase order to be fulfilled.
- The cost of housing the product.
Establish and maintain target inventory levels. Once you’ve got that down, the effects are that pick time is reduced because there’s less volume in your warehouse, stock outs are reduced, and you’ll have to make less purchase orders. All of these elements speed up fulfillment. It’s like killing three birds with one stone.
Slot Pairs Together
As previously stated, travel distance is the biggest factor in picking time. Every opportunity you can find to cut down on distance is going to pay dividends in your fulfillment speed. Slotting is the process of choosing the physical positioning of your items in your warehouse, and haphazard slotting increases distance time, slows down picking, and ultimately makes your fulfillment speed sluggish.
A great way to increase your fulfillment speed is to be more methodical in your slotting. Slot popular product pairs near one another. The picking process will be a lot faster if your warehouse or fulfillment center workers don’t have to travel long distances between two items often purchased together.
For example, if you sell musical instruments and accessories, it’s likely that your My First Clarinet music books are going to be purchased together with a fresh pack of wooden reeds. Slot these items together, and slot them near the clarinets. Other slotting methods, such as slotting based on weight or size, can lead to increased distance time. If your reeds are off with your guitar strings and slide grease, you’ve just slowed down fulfillment on several different potential orders.
A solid ecommerce reporting tool is necessary for you to review your most popular items. You may even consider combining this tip with the bundles tip from before, creating some kits based around this data to capitalize on your customer’s needs and increase order value.
Automate Order Routing
I have trouble imagining how ecommerce businesses deal with order routing without having an automation system. Some sellers prefer the hands-on approach of dealing with it themselves, and others are hesitant to invest in automated order tracking software. But there are some serious drawbacks with this strategy.
- It’s time-consuming to manually route orders for fulfillment. Fulfillment times are slowed down. You will lose sales over slow delivery estimates.
- Hands-on order routing increases the chance of human error. Computers don’t have to be perfect. They just need to be more accurate than humans.
- Manual order routing is not scalable. You can’t do it by hand when you have 10,000 orders.
- It’s a tedious hassle to handle order tracking on your own. Don’t you deserve a vacation?
Get rid of the complicated Excel spreadsheet and invest in order tracking software. Automating this process with a tool like ours at ecomdash will be more scalable, more accurate, and will yield faster fulfillment speeds. Our order tracking software is easy to set up and easy to use. Not only will it be more efficient, but when customers see that lightning fast delivery estimate, expect more conversions.
There’s no perfect formula for faster fulfillment speeds. It’s likely that there will always be someone who can fulfill orders faster than you. But in the crowded ecommerce landscape, it’s important to find an edge anywhere you can. If you follow these steps, even if they only result in a day or two faster fulfillment times, it’s worth the investment. Put in the work and watch the results come in.