Making a sale or booking an order is not easy in today’s highly competitive environment.
So when your business receives an order, it is important that the order moves through the various stages smoothly and is delivered successfully!
You need to ensure that you have an efficient delivery order fulfilment process in place. In this blog, we’ll take you through what is delivery order fulfilment, the steps it involves, and arm you with 7 ways to improve it.
Let’s get started!
What is delivery order fulfilment?
Delivery order fulfilment is the entire process of receiving an order and making sure that it reaches the hands of the end customer. It requires various stakeholders and technological systems to work in tandem. The ultimate goal of order fulfilment is to get the customer what they ordered efficiently and reliably.
Delivery order fulfilment is not an easy process. It involves multiple steps. Let’s have a look at the various steps of the process.
Steps of delivery order fulfilment
The steps can vary a bit depending on the business but the basic flow looks like this:
Step 1: Receiving Inventory
The first thing you need to have in place to start fulfilling orders is inventory. This step involves receiving the inventory at a warehouse or a fulfilment center as per the demand forecasts. The inventory is inspected to ensure that the right quantity and acceptable quality was received.
Step 2: Storage of inventory
The barcodes on the packages of the inventory are scanned to maintain the records in internal systems. The items are then organized and stored at their dedicated locations in the warehouse.
Step 3: Receiving orders & order processing
The order is received from the customer via an online platform or through offline methods. The order is then processed to ensure it is accurate and complete. This includes verifying product availability, calculating shipping costs, and checking payment details. Once processed, the order is communicated to the warehouse.
Step 4: Picking and packing
The picking team receives a packing slip with the instructions pertaining to the order. A member of the picking team retrieves the item(s) from the warehouse as per the SKU details (size/color), no. of units, and storage location of the item mentioned on the packing slip.
The order is then carefully packed to be sent to the customer. Appropriate packing materials like cardboard boxes, bubble wraps, plastic bags, etc. are used to secure the items. It is important to choose the packing material that will contribute the lowest possible weight and dimensions of the package without compromising the safety of the items.
Step 5: Shipping & delivery
This step involves generating the shipping labels and actually transporting the orders to the customer. You can choose to deliver the orders yourself or partner with a shipping carrier. The shipment is tracked until it is handed over to the customer.
Step 6: Handling returns
When a customer places a return request, it is important that the process is carried out smoothly. The returned item is inspected for its quality and is restocked if the quality is as per standards. The refund is then processed to the customer.
Ways to improve delivery order fulfilment:
- Improve order processing speed
Use systems that provide coordination between receiving the order and the availability of the inventory. It shouldn’t happen that orders were received for items that are out of stock. Also, ensure a minimum time lag between receiving the order and it being communicated to the warehouse.
- Streamline inventory management
Hold the right amount of inventory so that you don’t run out of stock but don’t overstock so that it adds to the storage costs. Continuously monitor inventory levels and also keep an eye on the expiration date of the items. Build clear and simple processes for storing the inventory so that it’s easier for the staff to locate the items.
- Make order picking efficient
To make order picking more efficient you can use inventory classification systems. Identify hot-selling categories and stock them nearer to the packing stations. The categories that are less popular can be stored the farthest or at the back of the warehouse. You can also choose to stock items that are frequently bought together next to each other.
Batching the order picking also helps in improving picking speed as multiple orders are picked in one go. Correctly tagging the inventory ensures picking accuracy.
- Strategic location of the warehouse
The location of the warehouse can make a difference in the speed of order fulfilment. You can be strategic about the location of the warehouse(s) and keep it/them closer to the location from where majority of orders are received. If you are using a shipping partner then the location should be easily and quickly accessible for them.
- Route optimization
Another way to improve order fulfilment is to use route optimization. It enables your fleet to move faster by generating the most efficient routes. It not only helps in the on-time delivery of orders but also saves time and costs for your business. It also enables clear visibility into the movement of the shipment till it reaches the customer.
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- Communicate with the customer
It is important to set the right customer expectations right from when the order is received. Communicate a realistic delivery timeline to the customer. Keep the customer in the loop via email/notifications regarding the progress of their delivery. Share a tracking link with the customer when the order is out for delivery so that the customer ensures that they are available to receive the order. In case of any delays, communicate it to the customer to avoid any disappointment.
92% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase from a business that provides them with a positive customer service experience.
- Use technology
It is important to embrace technology and automation. Manually managing the processes can be cumbersome and prone to errors. Use ERPs, inventory management software, route optimization software, and keep all the documentation on cloud.
Improving delivery order fulfilment is crucial for a business for providing a positive customer experience. It also helps in building a brand reputation. We recommend that you go through your current order fulfilment process and start making improvements keeping in mind the tactics mentioned above!