Order fulfillment is a broad process that provides guidance on how to go from the point of sale to the time the client receives merchandise. The act of selling is not actually the final part of fulfillment. There are agreements to sign as well as orders to track. Customers can be very persistent, and they do not believe that a transactions ends with money changing hands. On the other hand, businesses would like to hold on to their most treasured clients, so there is always a particular level of pressure on them to perform. These have been some of the major forces pushing the revolution behind the concept of order fulfillment. While clients have the obligation to pay up, businesses have to fulfill orders by ensuring the correct shipping and delivery procedures take place, and this is where fulfillment entities step in.
What fulfillment does a client expect?
One of the harshest realities of business is that no matter the scope of the activities you engage in, there will always be a level of expectation and a feel of entitlement among clients because they have made purchases. It does not matter if you are a giant business running orders across the world, or a small business stretching resources thin in a bid to fulfill shipping needs. Things have to go their way. Below are aspects of fulfillment that client want to see.
When a customer makes a payment, they expect their merchandise yesterday. Of course, some kinds of timings are impossible, but a business will always try to attain the demands of the client. While clients are willing to make compromises and follow company timelines, it becomes an absolute logistical nightmare if delivery cycles fail. The ripple effect here is that the client maybe a retailer who wants to resell merchandise and might even have clients waiting on the order. If the product is perishable, then the business has to suffer the cost of replacement. At the same time, you could deliver a product on the right date, but at the wrong hour. No client wants you knocking their doors in the middle of the night to deliver merchandise. Therefore, fulfillment times need to be reasonable and reliable.
Businesses always attract clients with the promise that things will always move along at a consistent pace. If you delivered merchandise within 5 days last time, they expect you to do the same while handling the next one. There could be some logistical changes on your end that make this hard to attain, but for the client, a pattern must always remain. They also expect procedures to retain a consistent look. They do not want to be running around in circles to get the hang of what you are trying to implement every single time they shop.
While clients may not understand the scope of what the business is handling, they will always expect prompt service followed by a sense of professionalism. They want their packages to arrive properly packaged and secured against theft and damage. It might not be possible to avoid natural calamities, but it is very important to ensure that when items arrive at their final destination, they are not broken or tampered with in any way. You have to keep checking your inventory to ensure that there is no mis-shipment, because this is a waste of everybody’s money and time.
What does fulfillment looks like in your warehouse?
Order fulfillment is all about organization. You could have the most reliable staff and still fail to hit it big with the clients because things at your warehouses are at a perpetual state of disarray. It pays to keep everything in order. A good practice would be to know the amount of stock already on the shipment list and what merchandise stays put because it has not been claimed. To achieve this feat, you will need to ensure that your inventory stays updated all the time. You have to know the value of the assets moving out as well as the supplies coming in all the time. If you keep your warehouse in perfect order, you will not have to endure the misfortune of mis-shipment or confusion over what is going out and what is coming in.
Steps to improve order fulfillment
In slotting, you need to decide where to place the most sought after items so that they are accessible to pickers. This is always important because it reduces the walking time pickers have to use. Keep in mind that if the goods are well sorted out, then the whole process of fulfillment takes a very short time to effect. When deciding the sorting process, you will have to consider the positioning of merchandise. A good approach would be to look at the velocity of each item as well as its weight. By putting the fastest moving and heaviest items in the beginning of the pick path, you ensure a solid foundation to build your order. Your customers will appreciate receiving items that have not been crushed by other parcels.
Optimization of box selection
There is a chance that most of the merchandise shipped is awkward shaped. To reduce the time wasted deciding on where packages should fit, you will need to have a clear dimension of where specific goods need to go. Here, optimize your box size as per orders. For example, if a client orders an item too large for the small box, but still convenient for the large box types that it leaves space, pack the smaller items around the bigger package in the big box. Note that some products have hollow parts that can fit smaller packages.
Proper inventory turnover
With a warehouse full of product, it is important that First In First Out rules are followed. Each day product sits in your warehouse, the greater the chance of damage. The least of which is accumulation of dust or debris, but could include being physical damage that would render the product unusable. We use processes to reduce the number of times the product is touched, but by using FIFO allocation rules, you can ensure your product spends the least amount of time in your warehouse as possible.
Order fulfillment can be an absolute nightmare if not well thought out. An important point of consideration would be to reduce the traveling distances for pickers and loaders. Keep in mind that travelling accounts for over 60% of labor costs.