In the ecommerce universe, making sales is the name of the game. You pay close attention to sales revenue and conversions to measure the performance of your businesses. Sometimes these efforts cause you to overlook other important aspects that contribute to your overall success. One of these areas is the post order shipping process.
How and when buyers receive their purchases play a huge part in customer satisfaction, which is crucial to retaining loyal customers. Data proves that increasing customer retention by just 5% results in a 95% growth in profits.
Post Order Shipping Workflow
Creating the best shipping workflow for your ecommerce business requires optimizing each step of the process. The post ecommerce order shipping workflow typically consists of the following three crucial steps:
- Picking and packing – once an order is received it must be quickly located in the warehouse, removed from inventory numbers, and packaged for the customer.
- Shipping – a shipping label must be created, and the package picked up by a shipping carrier.
- Updating order status – the order status must be updated in your system and be provided to the customer.
While this workflow seems simple, each step must be properly managed for the overall process to be successful, and for customers to receive their orders correctly and on time. Let’s take a closer look at each step of the workflow with tips on how to optimize each one.
Step #1 – Picking and Packing
This step involves pulling ordered products from storage shelves and preparing those items for shipment. Optimize this step of the process by choosing the best method for your operation. The most common picking methods are:
- Discrete picking – Each picker simply picks one whole order at a time, one line at a time. This method is simple, and it makes tracking picker accuracy easy, however, it requires more movement than other methods.
- Zone picking – Pickers are assigned to a specific area, or zone, and they’re responsible for picking any of the SKUs that are in their zone. The order passes through each zone until it contains all the products that should be included in the box.
- Batch picking – One picker who picks products in a batch of orders, one SKU at a time. This type of picking works best when there are multiple orders to fill that contain the same SKU.
- Cluster picking – Pickers pick multiple orders and separate each into different order containers at the same time. The aim of this type of picking is to reduce travel time.
- Wave picking – Similar to discrete picking, wave picking involves one picker picking one order, one SKU at a time. However, with wave picking, there is a scheduling window. For example, picking is only scheduled for a set time during the day, like 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., not on an as needed basis.
- Combination of methods – Any of the above methods can be combined to improve efficiency.
Choosing the right picking method for your business requires a look at several factors including the size of your warehouse, average order size, volume of orders, and the number of employees you have for picking. Consider the following questions to help determine the right picking method for your company:
- When will your employees be picking? Will those hours interfere with other operations?
- How big is your warehouse? How much travel time might occur with the various picking options?
- Will the average order size result in extra activity that may lower efficiency?
- How is warehouse space utilized? Can your order pickers easily move around one another as they pick?
- How many orders do you receive a day? Do the influx of orders follow a certain trend (e.g. most orders are received between 8am – 2pm ET)?
Based on the answers to these questions, mix and match the methods mentioned above that fit your needs. The best picking method should ensure that your packages are picked and packed a timely manner without costing your too much overhead.
Step #2 – Shipping
The next step in the shipping workflow is printing shipping labels and sending the package to the shipping carrier. You have a few options when it comes to printing shipping labels for customer orders that speed up the process. There are:
- Shipping carrier websites (UPS.com, FedEx.com, USPS.com, etc.,)
- Carrier-specific shipping software (Stamps.com, UPS Worldship, FedEx Ship Manager, etc.)
- Shipping rate comparison software (PayPal Shipping, etc.)
- Ecommerce shipping management software, like ecomdash or ShipStation
This step will require some legwork on your part to find the most affordable and reliable shipping carrier for customer orders. You can compare rates of various carriers and make a decision based on what you find. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you use shipping rate comparison software or an ecommerce shipping software solution, the system will identify the most cost-efficient carrier options for your customers’ orders, along with discounted postage rates.
The biggest decision-maker is whether you sell on multiple channels. If so, you need to choose an option that connects to each of your shopping platforms, so all your orders are consolidated in one place. This will save your business time due to less manual data entry, and headaches from fewer human errors.
Step #3 – Updating Order Status
The third and last step in the shipping workflow is updating the status of a customer’s order, in your system, the ecommerce platform the order came from, and the customer. Providing a shipment confirmation order with a tracking number to customers isn’t just a courtesy anymore – it’s an expectation. Attempting to enter the information manually for all the packages shipped can quickly become a tedious and time-consuming task.
Make sure that shipping information is entered efficiently and accurately with a shipping management software solution. With this type of software, shipping statuses, tracking information, and confirmation emails can all be automatically sent when an order is processed and shipped.
Wrapping It Up
When looking at the performance of your ecommerce business, don’t ignore your shipping process. It’s likely your shipping workflow that can be optimized to make it more efficient and cost-effective – and to create more happy customers.