With more retailers expanding into ecommerce, careful attention should be paid to improving order management and fulfillment. Business owners who previously had brick-and-mortar stores must adjust to the differences of order fulfillment for online enterprises. If you’re making the shift from brick-and -mortar to include online retailing, or if you’re looking for ways to improve your existing order fulfillment system, the following tips to improve order management are for you.
1. Build a Strong Relationship with Suppliers
Most products that online retailers sell are sourced from distributers, dropshippers, or directly from the manufacturer itself. In each of those situations, establishing a good working relationship with your contact is essential to running a successful business. Having a healthy rapport and good reputation with your suppliers will benefit you when something goes wrong. Here’s our guide to building a strong relationship with suppliers to help get you started.
2. Employ Smart Warehousing Tactics
Nowadays, it’s expected that online purchases be delivered quickly, with 44% of shoppers expecting deliveries made within 2 days. As an ecommerce retailer that means you have a very tight window for delivery in order to maintain customer satisfaction. There are basically two methods:
- Ship everything by air so everyone receives their orders next-day. Of course, this option is very costly and may run you right out of business.
- Ship items from warehouses that are geographically close to your customers’ locations. That way customers may still get next-day delivery and you only pay ground shipping.
Obviously, you’ll want to go with option 2, but how exactly do you do that? Go with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that has multiple warehouses nationwide. Make sure you’re using an software that supports multiple warehouses like ecomdash.
3. Communicate with Your Customers
Another way to ensure customer satisfaction is to always keep them in the loop when it comes to order processing, shipping, and delivery. That means letting them know as each step of the order fulfillment process is completed. Use email notifications to keep them informed of exactly where their orders are, and when they can expect them on the doorstep.
4. Streamline Refunds and Returns
Unfortunately, refunds and returns are always going to be a part of the sales process. That means that you have to consider how to manage reverse logistics and payment refunds.
Be sure that you prominently post your return policies on each product page and in your order confirmation email. Only work with suppliers that accept returns, refunds, and replacements as a part of their system. Here are some other great tips on how to use returns as a sales tool.
5. Automate Order Routing
You also need to streamline the technology side. Integrating your ordering system with their systems is key to providing your customers with fast delivery. Make sure you choose suppliers that have the capability to integrate with your order management system, whether through a flat file feed, an API, or some other system. It will save you a lot of headaches.
As you work with suppliers and 3PLs, you’ll want to maintain visibility and tracking of all of your products as they are funneled through the fulfillment cycle. Integrating your systems allow you to track orders and notify customers in real-time about the status of their orders, which will greatly increase customer satisfaction and improve the overall perception of your brand.
Related: Are you a retailer expanding into ecommerce for the first time? Check out our free in-depth guide on converting your retail operation into online sales.