eCommerce fulfilment: Strategies to fulfill online orders

2022-07-04

Written by Starshipit

Your eCommerce fulfilment process is what will set you apart from your competitors. It doesn’t matter how good your product is if you don’t get it to your customers quickly!

eCommerce order fulfilment covers every step you take after a customer purchases something. That means processing, picking, packing, shipping automation and knowing what to do if something goes wrong.

Want to improve your eCommerce fulfilment strategy so you can give first-class customer service? Keep reading!

What is order fulfillment?

Order fulfilment is everything you do to get an order to a customer.

eCommerce shipping fulfilment includes everything from order processing, to packaging, to actual delivery, to processing returns. It also includes your system for things like product quality control and storing stock in a way that makes it easy to pack orders.

The sale isn’t over until the customer has your product in hand!

Fulfilment for eCommerce centers around your shipping process. Having efficient and cost effective shipping is the key to building and maintaining a loyal customer base.



Why is order fulfillment important?

24% of customers will abandon their order if you don’t have an estimated delivery date. 54% of online shoppers say that delivery times affect who they will shop with.

All of these factors rely on order fulfilment automation and shipping integration!

For a positive customer experience, your order fulfilment needs to be fast, efficient, and easy for the customer to understand.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the importance of order fulfilment (and how to do it with shipping integration).



1. Lower costs

A good eCommerce fulfilment system will save you money over time. When you are starting out you might be fulfilling orders alone, but it is still important to have a system as you grow!

Here are a few ways a fulfilment process and shipping integration could save you money:

  • You work less hours on fulfilment and can focus on revenue building activities
  • Winning loyal customers who spend more on average than new customers
  • Hiring someone for less hours because each order takes less time
  • Negotiate lower shipping charges
  • Charge accurate shipping so you’re not losing money
  • Less penalties from returned parcels with the wrong address
  • Saving your own time because each order could take up to 80% less time with a shipping integration
  • Reducing logistics and shipping costs if you work with a third party because you have a high volume of parcels

The system you use for order fulfilment matters.



2. Ability to scale

Once you have a process in place, you can start to receive more orders.

A real life example of this is luxury plume brand The Feather. They were sometimes getting over 100 orders a day but with Starshipit, they could get orders out faster and with less errors.

This means happier customers AND more time to spend on business building activities.



3. Improved customer service

You can’t talk about the importance of order fulfilment without talking about customer service.

In the competitive world of eCommerce, a fulfilment process will set you apart. You need to be able to receive, pick, pack, and ship an order within a day to keep up with the current market expectations.

And you can’t do that efficiently without an order fulfilment process.



The process of order fulfilment

There are a few key steps you need to think about in your order fulfilment process. Doing each one efficiently will mean orders get to customers quickly.



  • Receiving

Your fulfilment strategy actually starts as soon as stock arrives. Checking for quality and having a logical system for storing items means that all the other steps will go more smoothly.



  • Picking & Packing

If you have a system for storing inventory, this part of the process should be a breeze! Once an order comes in, you or anybody else should be able to pick up the order sheet and put it together to be packaged. Using shipping software will make this even easier because the order will be actioned as soon as someone buys something.

  • Shipping

Shipping is arguably the most important (and sometimes most confusing!) part of order fulfilment. Although it is just one part of the fulfilment process, there are lots of steps to consider if you want to optimise your shipping such as:

  • Choosing the right courier (e.g. local or international)
  • Getting the right payment from customers (without over or undercharging)
  • Inputting addresses
  • Creating labels
  • Setting up courier tracking and updating customers
  • Sending confirmation and thank you emails
  • Deciding on your returns process and policy

All of this can be done automatically with a shipping integration such as Starshipit. It allows you to get more orders out even faster with less errors.

Tips to improve order fulfilment process

Now that we understand the importance of order fulfilment, it’s time to start optimising it.

Here are a few tips for improving your order fulfilment process.

  • Optimise inventory management

Inventory management is how you receive and store your products. You will need to come up with a system for updating availability on your website, and storing items in a way that makes sense.

It is also important to double check all products for quality. This will save you (or your workers) time when it comes to picking and packing orders because you will already know that everything is ready to go.



  • Use data to drive decisions

Using data to analyse your order fulfilment is crucial. You should be checking the efficiency of your system at least every 6-12 months.

This could mean checking things like

  • Feedback from customers
  • Shipping costs versus how many hours you work
  • How long it takes to fulfill each order
  • Where you have fulfilment “bottlenecks”

This kind of data helped online fashion brand HER Empire.

They went from 50 orders a month to over 650 orders per month on average. However, they were still taking just as long to fulfil orders because they were manually entering Shopify orders into their courier services.

By analysing their system and implementing Starshipit as a shipping fulfilment service, they were able to save 3 hours a day on their order fulfilment.

That data gave them 15 hours extra in their week!



  • Improve relationships with your shippers

Ultimately, the price of your shipping is determined by your carrier. Make sure you are on their good side! If you have large volumes of parcels, you can help each other out and negotiate better shipping prices. That’s why it is important to have positive relationships with your carriers!



  • Automate wherever possible

Research shows that adopting automation and software in your eCommerce business can

  • Improve logistics costs by 15%
  • Improve Inventory costs by 35%, and
  • Improve service by 65%,

Compared with businesses that don’t use automation.

Automating your order fulfilment in any way will save you time and money. This could be any step from calculating shipping costs, to processing orders, to updating customers on their delivery.



  • Be transparent with customers

One of the most important steps of eCommerce order fulfilment is staying in contact with your customers. They have just spent money with you and deserve to get what they paid for!

The best way to do this is to be transparent about things like shipping.

69.7% of customers would be less likely to shop with a business that didn’t alert them to delayed shipping. However in comparison, 92% of customers would repurchase if the returns process is simple.

Using a shipping app will make most of these steps automatic.



Take home message

eCommerce shipping and fulfilment is the heart of a successful eCommerce business. Getting orders out quickly and keeping customers in the loop is the difference between OK customers and raving fans. If you’re ready to automate your order fulfilment process, start shipping with Starshipit.

From creating and printing labels to sending tracking updates, Starshipit will give your eCommerce store the competitive edge and keep customers coming back again and again. Talk to one of our shipping experts today or start your 30-day free trial.



Starshipit

Starshipit

Starshipit is the best practice shipping and fulfilment platform that helps retailers save time and deliver great shipping experiences.

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