Common Challenges in Order Fulfillment and How to Overcome Them
The complex landscape of order fulfillment presents a wide range of challenges for eCommerce businesses. From the moment an order is placed until it is delivered, order fulfillment plays a crucial role in making things as painless as possible for the customer. Whether fulfillment is handled in-house or outsourced, problems like stockouts, shipping errors, and delays are common. However, there are steps that businesses can take to minimize these issues.
In this article, we will discuss some common challenges that businesses face with order fulfillment and how to overcome them:
5 Frequent Order Fulfillment Problems – And How to Fix Them
1. Inventory Management
Poor inventory management is one of the most common issues with order fulfillment. Mismanaged inventories can lead to stockouts and backorders, frustrated customers, and refund requests. Inventory management issues can ultimately stifle your ability to handle increased seasonal demands and your business growth as a whole.
The best way to cut down on inventory issues is to integrate your online shopping cart with an inventory management system. These provide 24/7 access to your inventory with live updates, allowing you to keep products available and quickly respond to any issues.
2. Picking and Packing
Picking and packing problems are another hurdle for order fulfillment. Improperly filled orders (missing items, incorrect items, etc.), unoptimized processes, and inadequate packaging materials and techniques can lead to frustrated customers, damaged products, and returns.
It’s essential to streamline the picking and packing phases in order to overcome these issues. Developing effective picking and packing processes, providing proper training on packing techniques, and ensuring that you are using the right packaging materials and design for your products will all help prevent problems.
3. Shipping and Logistics
Shipping and logistics problems can be frustrating for both you and your customers because things largely fall on the carrier at this point. Slow transit times, delivery delays, lost or damaged products, and other carrier issues can make a dent in your reputation and customer satisfaction ratings, even though things are essentially out of your hands. Shipping rates are another factor that needs to be addressed, especially as you begin to scale your business and your shipping demands increase.
Some steps that you can take to reduce shipping and logistics issues are:
- Constantly compare and negotiate for the best shipping rates
- Diversify your carrier options
- Ensure that all labels are printed correctly to reduce delays, “undeliverable” returns, and other issues
- Apply relevant warning labels to reduce the risk of damage during transit
- Take advantage of technology that provides real-time tracking and easy communication between you, your carriers, and your customers
4. International Orders
International orders have become more and more common as social media has helped businesses reach a wider global audience, but they can be tricky to handle properly. International shipping involves a hefty amount of paperwork, customs fees, and taxes for both the country your products are being shipped from and the country they’re being shipped to.
International shipping is also usually much longer than domestic shipping, especially if you don’t have fulfillment centers located in neighboring countries. Expediting international shipping can be incredibly expensive as well, so keep that in mind should you try to reduce shipping times that way.
The best way to handle international orders is to choose experienced shipping carriers. The big-name carriers have the experience to handle all of the paperwork, customs forms, taxes, and other aspects of international shipping. They also have the infrastructure and logistics in place to guarantee the fastest delivery times possible.
5. Customer Service
Customer service plays a vital support role in order fulfillment. All it takes is a few late returned emails, providing an incorrect tracking number, or dealing with a frustrating return process to lose a customer for good. Ensuring that your order fulfillment process runs as smoothly and error-free as possible is the first step to providing good customer service. Incorrect orders, delays due to misprinted labels, and damaged goods caused by careless packing are surefire ways to drive customers away.
When things do go wrong, clear and timely communication between you and your customers is essential. Customers like to be kept in the loop during the shipping process, so automated shipping updates are another way to improve customer satisfaction. Finally, a free and simple return process will ensure that customers can easily send back damaged or incorrect orders and get a replacement shipped quickly.
Solve Your Order Fulfillment Issues with Preferred Packaging Products
Since 1985, we have been the preferred packaging, logistics, and automation solution for hundreds of businesses along the Front Range.
We specialize in custom package development and can help you optimize your packaging to maximize product protection, minimize material and shipping costs, and keep customers happy. We also offer a wide selection of high-quality generic packaging materials and products to suit all of your packaging and business needs.
Some other ways Preferred Packaging can help your business include:
- Our logistics, warehouse, and distribution services can help you streamline your logistics process and better support order fulfillment.
- Our package kitting and assembly services can take a load off your employees and help your business focus on other tasks.
- Our packaging equipment automation and installation services can increase your efficiency and help your business transition to a more hands-off packaging process.