Evaluating And Improving Your eCommerce Fulfillment and Holiday Shipping

Online shopping always reaches its peak during the busy holiday season. Here are tips from our 3PL order fulfillment experts on how to improve your eCommerce fulfillment for holiday shipping.

By:
Rob Tillman
-
eCommerce Strategy

eCommerce sales increased significantly in 2020 as more people shifted from physical stores to online shopping. The business reaches its peak during the holiday season, and at this moment, the shipping is over, and there is bulk in holiday returns. It is time for eCommerce retailers to analyze their shipments and fulfillment.

If something did not go as expected, it's now the right time to make improvements in preparation for the 2021 holiday season. An efficient eCommerce order fulfillment process is crucial when it comes to the success of your business. Below are the ways you can make improvements.

1. Automate Your Order Processing

Order processing can hinder your order fulfillment cycle time. If you do it incorrectly, the result is a high order error rate. It is possible to reduce the high order error rate by doing away with the need for changes in the order processing system.

For example, maybe when a package requires international shipping or exceeds a certain amount, the employees have to adjust the shipping or carrier method. Those changes end up consuming time and human resources.

An automated process won't require manual adjustments since the system applies the appropriate options when processing an order. Therefore, your employees will only have to pick, pack, and dispatch the orders. 

2. Improve Supplier Relationships

Supplier relationships significantly impact your eCommerce fulfillment. It is the case for both the online retailers who manufacture their products from supplied raw materials and those who order items for reselling. You can improve the supplier relationship through consistent communication. It is crucial in case there is an error in invoicing or in inventory count.

Remember, the supplier has other clients too. Therefore, try to avoid a pushy communication demand but maintain an asserting priority. You can use different tools to enable fast communication and facilitate an open-ended conversation through easy sharing of documents. Besides, technology streamlines basic tasks such as placing more orders and renewing contracts.

3. Customize the Delivery Process

Customers are after a delivery that is convenient and customizable. The easiest way to do that is by offering several carriers with varying delivery services. Although a retailer might find it challenging to offer multiple services, diversity has a couple of benefits when it comes to eCommerce shipping.

Customers usually prefer comparing the right delivery method for them among those available, and having a limited variety could negatively impact your conversion rate. Besides, having multiple carriers is beneficial to your business in other ways. Even better, when you partner with a 3PL, they can shop for the best shipping option for your based on lower shipping costs and fast deliveries.

During the holiday season, different circumstances may hinder your main carrier from delivering your order. Having an alternative carrier reduces the resulting inconveniences since you can switch quickly.

4. Manage Inventory Accuracy

Customers get disappointed the moment they realize that a product is out of stock. Inventory management is critical to avoid such situations. Real-time counts and syncing of the store's current stocks ensure that clients do not order out-of-stock products. However, you cannot achieve it manually.

It is recommendable that you implement inventory management software. Begin with a system that is easy to merge with the online sales platform. 

Select the inventory management tool while considering factors such as your organization method and whether it can scale as your retail business grows.

Get a vivid picture of what you want from the inventory management system and begin your research.

5. Check Your Order Fulfillment Cycle-Time

If you are keen to improve your entire fulfillment process, understanding the order fulfillment cycle time is essential. Generally, fulfilling an order usually take days or weeks, and a retailer has little control over some things, such as international shipping. However, always strive to maintain a low cycle time.

The total cycle time includes the moment a customer places an order to when your business recognizes it, the duration it takes to prepare and pack the order, and the period between when the shipping begins to when it reaches the delivery location that a customer specifies.

6. Improve the Return Process

As you increase the efficiency of the delivery process, do not forget about the return process. If a customer is returning a product, know the reason and the time you should expect it back. Besides, know the actions to take early enough, such as exchanging the item or refunding the customer. Automating the return process is one way of improving its efficiency.

7. Authenticate Your Metrics

Metrics are crucial in the analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of the processes. However, you need to have a backup of why and how to avoid your process from falling apart. Moreover, it is only after recognizing issues that you can resolve them.

An analysis of typical blind spots allows you to foresee potential problems. In the process, a retailer can ultimately reduce the risk of such an occurrence. The key eCommerce metrics you can use include the fulfillment cost per order, return processing, customer retention rate, supply chain agility, etc.

Bottom Line

Improving your eCommerce fulfillment is a guarantee of reaping the best of the 2021 holiday season. All the odds are on your side if you start the preparations today and avoid past mistakes.

This time, reach your customers faster, reduce your shipping and fulfillment cost, achieve 100% order accuracy, and infinitely scale your business through outsourcing with a reliable fulfillment company like Rakuten Super Logistics. Contact us and get a quote today!

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Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.

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