The order fulfillment process represents the owner of an ecommerce store keeping the promise made to a buyer when merchandise was initially purchased. Quick and accurate order fulfillment boosts customers' opinions about an ecommerce business, while delayed or inaccurate orders will have the opposite effect. Putting together a plan for order fulfillment also makes the process easier for the store owner, cutting down on the time and effort required to successfully fill each order and ship it out. A plan doesn't have to be intricately detailed, but it needs to include some of the major areas of overall order fulfillment.

A workflow to follow

A simple plan thatgets individual products from a stocking area to boxes and ready for pickup by a carrier will improve efficiency and remove much of the room for error or doubt. Documenting a workflow can take many forms, but a numbered list is one of the most simple approaches. A direct, easy-to-understand list also helps when a business expands and employees are added, or when friends or family are helping out during a busy period. The workflow itself starts with selecting the product and ends when the package is ready for pickup by a carrier or dropped off at a delivery company. The steps in between range from gathering the item, packing materials and box to assembling and securing those items, plus acquiring or printing the shipping label and paying for the planned delivery.

Individual considerations for ecommerce store owners, based on their individual operations, include adding extras like directions, batteries, promotional flyers and coupons to the box. To save the most time in order fulfillment, store owners also have to consider how to safely package various products inside of a single box. The time spent testing different configurations will pay off when orders come in at a fast pace and instructions on how to quickly fill each multi-item order already exist. Adding some kind of quality control check, even if it's just a quick review of contents before a shipping label is placed on a box, reduces incorrect orders and improves customer satisfaction.

An organized storage area

Creating order in your inventory area makes an order fulfillment workflow easier to follow and further cuts down on the time spent per order. Ecommerce store owners offering anything more than a few different items will benefit from some basic inventory organization The method of organization is best left to individual store owners to decide upon, based on the space available and the types of merchandise sold. Common approaches include alphabetical organization, by size or product type and, once a store starts making sales, arranging inventory by how frequently it's purchased by customers.

An additional benefit of good inventory organization is the immediate visibility into how frequently different products are being sold. In conjunction with tracking orders themselves, the transparency provided makes it easier to adjust purchasing volume, saving money that you can invest back into your ecommerce store.

A plan to get it to the carrier

The last major area for ecommerce store owners to address is how they get a correctly packaged order to the company that will eventually bring it to the customer's doorstep or place of business. This is a basic consideration, but one that should be factored into your plan for maximum efficiency. Working through the process of getting an order to the carrier will also highlight areas where the ecommerce store owner has to act, such as printing a shipping label or weighing the package to ensure the right postage prior to delivery.


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