There’s no question that order fulfillment can be a challenge; learn how to improve your process!
Online order fulfillment can be very challenging especially when you are fulfilling orders from multiple channels and from multiple fulfillment locations. Luckily, there are options available to help streamline these difficult processes.
While there are automated fulfillment tools available in which your retail system can automatically select the optimal location to ship from based on predetermined factors, let’s be honest; efficient fulfillment is difficult and frustrating.
Most SMB retailers do not even have large warehouses or DC’s to stock their merchandise or even the internal resources to effectively pick, pack and ship orders that same day. And many smaller merchants might only have 1 store location from which they run their entire retail business, with limited space and resources.
1) Why Not Lean on your Suppliers to do the Heavy Lifting?
In the evolving retail market, savvy retailers are adopting newer methods in order to better serve their customers online and meet their ever-growing expectations. Most of the distributors, combined with your retail management technology provider, will allow you to sell their products on your website, without having to stock the merchandise, and they will handle the fulfillment from their warehouse on you behalf reliving you of that pressure. The result is you as the retailer can offer more products, and wider product lines, that can be fulfilled faster- while keeping all of your branding.
2) Stock Less Inventory
While there are products you will always need to stock for your brick and mortar store, which hopefully you are beginning to purchase electronically through automated purchase orders within your retail system, when it comes to your online website sales- most products you won’t need to stock at all. With the right technology, retailers can pull live online feeds from their distributors– showing the products, descriptions, 360-degree images, and most importantly, available inventory levels from their warehouse. The orders made by the customers on your website can be sent directly to your distributor to fulfill on your behalf.
3) Offer More Products
By leveraging this technology, you as the retailer will be able to sell many more products and much wider product lines on your website. By not only selling what you stock in your store, you can use your website as an extension of your brick and mortar store, and encourage your in-store shoppers to additionally purchase from your website. Additionally, you can expand your reach and appeal to many more new customers on the web, but offering a vast variety of products to be more competitive online.
4) Minimize your Effort & Stress
Traditionally, merchants only sell the items that they have in stock and often times have difficulties syncing their available, physical inventory with what shows as available on their website. Another challenge can be ordering your merchandise ‘just in time’ to minimize the dreaded overstocks, or worse yet, under stocks. By integrating with your distributors and/or manufacturers, pulling their live available inventory levels which display on your website, and allowing your distributor to fulfill your orders from their well-stocked warehouses, overhead and manpower needed for the picking of the products, packing and shipping are significantly decreased, if not completely eliminated.
5) KEEP CUSTOMERS HAPPY
In today’s retail world, customers have high expectations and want exactly what they want, and when they want it- FAST. Retailers need to continuously be extending their product lines to keep customers engaged and reduce the chances they will start looking for the product elsewhere. Perhaps even more importantly, retailers need to come up with innovative new ways to get their orders out the door as fast as the customer’s expect. Fortunately, the vendors that retailers order their products from usually have extensive resources which retailers can use to their benefit. The important factor is this- you as a retailer need to recognize the resources which are made available to you, learn how to best leverage your vendors, and obtain the right retail technology partner in order to do so.
With the right Retail technology, many once manual processes can be made simpler, whether it be importing your vendor’s product catalogs, automating your purchase orders, enabling drop shipping; all are easy yet effective ways for retailers to streamline the processes. The ability to stock less inventory and offer more products with less work and happier customers might have once sounded as if it was impossible to accomplish. The savvy retailers are learning to evolve and take advantage of innovative technology, which enables them to effectively operate their business to stay at forefront of the industry.