The process of receiving, packaging, shipping, and delivering a product to a customer is known as order fulfillment. Fulfillment also includes the processing of exchanges and returns.
In layman’s terms, order fulfillment occurs when the interaction between the business and the customer for the ordered product is completed.
Everything from receiving an order to delivery/returns/exchange is part of the order fulfillment process.
A new sale is almost always cause for celebration, but the work isn’t done until the order is fulfilled and the customer receives it. Order fulfillment refers to the critical task of assembling the order and shipping it to the customer, as well as the supporting processes that enable those tasks to be completed.
The entire order fulfillment lifecycle consists of five major steps, beginning with strategic sourcing and ending with shipping. Many businesses classify order fulfilment as inventory management, supply chain management, order processing, quality control, and customer support.
The order fulfilment process typically involves inventory management, supply chain management, order processing, quality control, and support for customers who need to report problems or make product exchanges or returns.
Here’s an overview of the process’s key steps:
1. Receiving and Organizing Inventory
Receiving inventory is the process of gathering products directly from manufacturers or suppliers and delivering them to local fulfilment centres.
The primary tasks include counting items, inspecting products for damage, creating Stock-keeping Unit (SKUs — scannable bar codes) for products, and more.
The second stage helps ensure quick order fulfilment by organising inventory on shelves by category.
It is analogous to organising products in a physical store so that the shopkeeper can quickly locate the item requested by the buyer. If the items are dispersed throughout the store, it will take more time to find them, and the customer will be more likely to buy from another nearby store.
An impeccable order management software which is part and parcel of a 3rd party logistics can help you out with the same.
2. Order Processing
A product picking and packing activity is dictated by an order processing management system for each newly received customer order. Order management software can be integrated with an ecommerce website’s shopping cart to automatically initiate order processing in the online marketplace.
3. Picking and packing
When a customer places an order through the app or website, it must be tracked across existing inventories for pick and pack. This is simple to accomplish with an inventory management system that serves as a central database repository for all inventory products.
Packaging entails selecting the appropriate packaging box for the ordered product and packing it to ensure safe delivery. If you have your own inventory, you’ll need to keep all kinds of packaging materials on hand, including bubble wrap, carton boxes of various sizes, air fills, packaging tapes, and more.
4. Shipping and Delivery
You can ship the order once it has been collected from the fulfilment centre and securely packed. You have the option of shipping orders via third-party shipping, merchant shipping, or drop shipping.
The order is then delivered to the customer via a carrier service. For instance, Shift Logistics partners with a multitude of carrier partners such as Blue Dart, Delhivery, eCom Express, and many more!
Returns and exchanges should also be considered part of the order fulfilment process. When a customer requests an exchange/return, the order processing should begin automatically.
A company should not consider order fulfilment in eCommerce to be the same as order generation to the customer’s doorstep. Instead, it should be order generation to a successful return/exchange process.
Smart and efficient order fulfillment process is the key to ensuring brand loyalty and driving up repeat business rate. With the right logistics partner like Shift by your side, you can easily automate shipping tasks, provide personalized tracking updates, and offer a wide range of return options, among other things to keep your customers informed and satisfied!