The Ultimate Guide to Order Fulfillment
When it comes to your business, there are numerous moving parts and pieces that work in tandem to make everything run smoothly. Every department has its own duties to perform, communications to delegate, and tasks that need to be completed to effectively make your business work. If you’re selling a product, having all of these parts work efficiently is essential to satisfying order fulfillment and making your customers happy.
Here at The H&H Group, we understand that fulfillment is the unsung hero of marketing. All of its duties are behind the scenes, but it’s also responsible for how your final product is presented to the customer. Business fulfillment is important and we want to help you maintain a competitive advantage in your market. In this post, we’ll go over what it takes to maximize customer satisfaction, what traps to avoid, and general tips that will help you improve order fulfillment needs.
What is Fulfillment?
In short, business fulfillment is the process of receiving, packaging, and shipping goods and products to customers. If your business is just starting out with online orders (i.e. e-commerce), fulfillment and order processing may seem overwhelming. Maybe you don’t have the time or manpower to print or ship products or promotional materials—this is where The H&H Group can help. We’ll work with you to print, package, and ship your products so you don’t have to deal with the headache of postal regulations. If you’re still unsure of what you or your business needs, let us walk you through the process.
Stages of Order Fulfillment
In order for the fulfillment process to run smoothly, there are five essential stages that your product must go through:
- Receiving: Before orders can be fulfilled, inventory needs to be…well, received! Whether you’re fulfilling orders in-house or outsourcing to a fulfillment center, your products need to be on-hand in order to be sent to the customer.
- Inventory Storage: Storage and proper organization is essential when it comes to getting products out in a timely manner. Keeping your inventory well stocked and stored safely will help speed up picking and packing.
- Order Processing: Speaking of picking and packing your products, order processing consists of the steps it takes to get your product to shipping. Once an order is submitted online, the exact items and their quantities will be verified and go through the steps to get them to the next stage of order fulfillment.
- Shipping: Once your product has been effectively picked and packed, it’s sent to shipping. This involves dropping off packages or having a carrier pick them up.
- Return Processing: While not necessarily ideal, sometimes customers will return a package. Your product will then need to be evaluated for damage or defects, either repaired or restocked, and then go through the rest of the order process again.
Big or small, all sized companies that sell products go through these stages in some shape or form. Some may be on a smaller or larger scale, but keeping order fulfillment running smoothly will make for better customer service.
3PLs and Fulfillment Centers
Third Party Logistics (3PL) companies and fulfillment centers are designed to save you money and time. If you’re spending too much time, resources, and money on shipping out products yourself, it may be time to consider letting a 3PL company do the work for you. With consistent inventory shipments to these centers, your shipping costs can be greatly reduced and you won’t have to worry about taking up inventory space at your business. For example, The H&H Group offers pick, pack, and ship services—from mailer packets, to promotional items, to general product fulfillment, we get the right product to the right person every time.
Questions to Ask When Looking at Fulfillment Centers
Like every business, not all fulfillment centers are created equally, or for the same purpose. If your business deals with food or other consumables, it may be beneficial to look for a 3PL company that works specifically with those types of products. Those companies will already have a process down for your type of product and likely make the order fulfillment process move more quickly.
A few other parameters to consider when choosing a fulfillment center is how many square feet you’ll need, if there are extra charges for fulfillment solutions, if they offer 1 or 2 day delivery options, and if they handle inventory management. Asking these questions before you sign any type of contract will help you make the right decision for your business.
Potential Downsides of a 3PL
As with any type of business model, there can sometimes be disadvantages and compromises that must be made. By working with a 3PL company, you’re not able to consistently see how your product is being handled and shipped to the customer. Details that only your employees could catch may go unnoticed by a company that handles fulfillment orders for multiple organizations. That’s why working with a company you can trust—like The H&H Group—is so important when making your fulfillment center decision. We make sure that the unboxing experience for customers is enjoyable every time to protect your business’s good image.
Fulfillment Technology Integration
In an ever-changing world of technology, it’s important to always stay up to date on the newest resources and tools for your business. People want their products, and they want them fast. Accuracy, speed, and reliability are so important for order processing and for consistent customer service. Using outdated or manual processes and software can hurt your business by slowing down order fulfillment. With any type of e-commerce, integrating your online marketplace with the ordering and shipping process can get the customer orders directly to fulfillment staff and out the door as soon as possible.
No matter what route you decide to take with order fulfillment, The H&H Group will gladly be there to help you through whatever works best for you. We can work with you closely to pinpoint any major problems, and show you how our fulfillment services can improve them. The H&H Group will develop a customized strategy that implements the best plans that are specifically catered to your business. We understand the importance of your product and high quality services, so contact us today to see what we can do for your business.