Whether you are a new or experienced business, growth is always your goal. You hope to offer better services to your customers, so you retain those you have, and gain new ones. This isn’t possible without an efficient and successful order fulfillment process. With so many moving parts, it is a challenge to be on top of everything, which is why these tips can help you get started and learn where to find the support you need.
What Does the Order Fulfillment Process Look Like?
The following is a step-by-step list of what the order fulfillment process entails:
- Order is received from the customer in person, over the phone, via email, or web site.
- Order is entered into the office ERP system or accounting platform.
- Customer receives notice that their order has been received.
- Order is sent to the warehouse.
- Order is picked by warehouse staff.
- Order is packed and prepared for shipping with labels.
- Order is shipped from the warehouse to be delivered.
- Customer is notified that their order is on the way.
- Transport service delivers item to customer’s door.
- Customer is notified that their order has arrived.
Fulfillment Process Challenges
Demand planning is the process of using software and data history to predict the level of demand a product will have. This information can help companies know how many of each product to have on-hand in their warehouse, and how much effort they should put on marketing and promoting certain products.
Successful order fulfillment involves meeting customer expectations, but this is impossible to accomplish without inventory management. Knowing what you have in stock, and how often to restock products is necessary to providing visibility to your customers and helping them measure expectations when items are delayed or backordered.
Supply Chain Implementation
When your inventory gets low, how quickly can you restock? How fast do your manufacturers work to produce more products for you? How long does it take for these products to arrive at your warehouse? These are important questions that need answers, as they impact your order fulfillment. A third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help you with supply chain implementation and ensure every part moves as it should.
Logistics involves shipment and delivery. How long will customer orders take to get out of your warehouse? To their doorstep? How will the items be handled? Do you have tracking capabilities in case of any mishaps? This is another important aspect of running efficient fulfillment services.
Strategies to Improve Fulfillment Services
Classification of Inventory
You can classify your inventory to improve your operations. For example, fast moving inventory can be placed near the front and slower moving inventory can be further back in your warehouse. This saves your pickers’ time and makes their jobs more efficient. Popular items should always be at a central location that is easily picked, packed, and delivered to the shipping dock. The more logical your classification and organization, the more time you’ll save while fulfilling orders.
System Integration for More Visibility
To save time and be more efficient as you fulfill orders, you need to ensure you have visibility across your supply chain. This includes demand forecasting, sales, inventory, logistics, and more. System integration through an ERP system can help. It works by maintaining financial data, inventory systems, and logistic systems that manage the processes for picking, packing, and shipping.
Automate the Process
After gaining visibility across your supply chain, you need to see how you can automate or speed up individual processes. Automation does not always require robotics or conveyors but can be as straightforward as investing in barcode scanners so your warehouse workers can quickly enter inventory information as they work. They can scan items as they arrive in and out of your warehouse, which automatically updates the inventory count on your software.
Communicate with Customers
At each step of your process—shipping, delivery, arrival—you need to keep your customer updated. They can manage their expectations as they see where their order moves along the chain, and you can benefit from their patience as you work through any hiccups that may occur on occasion. This requires updated, on-demand, real-time communication that can only be provided by an experienced 3PL provider.
Choose Lean Supply Solutions to Manage Your Fulfillment
As you can see, there are many challenges to overcome, but there are solutions for each of them. From organizing where you store your items in your warehouse, to implementing automation to save time, the solutions available can help you get the most out of your warehousing and run a more efficient business. Unfortunately, unless you only sell a few items or a small stock, managing all these processes on your own isn’t possible. That’s why there is great value in partnering with a 3PL provider to handle all of this, so you can focus on other important parts of running your business.
At Lean Supply Solutions, you can benefit from quality and accurate fulfillment reports that help you make wiser decisions about optimizing your supply chain. We are a 3PL provider in Toronto, and our Lean Methodology helps our clients eliminate any operations, equipment, personnel, or resources that do not add value to their supply chains. We do our best to ensure that you consistently deliver the right products to the right customers at the right time.
Ready to get long-term savings, customer satisfactions that deliver the best return on investment, lower operating costs, improved focus, high-end technology, and more? Contact us today. Our services also include warehousing and distribution, pick and pack, repackaging, integrated solutions with companies like Amazon, labelling, online reporting, and transportation. You can trust us to provide consistent, predictable, and quality results.
Most businesses today rely on their supply chains to keep operations running. Issues in the supply chain directly impact their ability to deliver on their word to their customers. That’s why effective supply chain management is necessary to ensure the on-time delivery of products, clarity of inventory counts, real-time data updates, and more. Here are the current supply chain management trends of 2020 and what you can do to get up to date.
Supply Chains Are Going Green
As advocacy groups fight for climate change and consumers gain more knowledge about the importance of being environmentally responsible, many companies have improved their efforts to make their supply chains less harmful to the environment. Those that have been able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions are appearing as better businesses among their competitors who are still behind. Since electricity use and transportation largely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, green logistics are gaining traction.
Eco-friendly warehouses feature advanced energy management systems that help monitor and conserve the usage of electricity, heat, water, and gas. By preventing the excessive waste of resources, companies can reduce their overall carbon footprint.
Focus on Circular Supply Chains
As supply chains evolve, the linear model will eventually be replaced by a circular model. In a circular supply chain, manufacturers will refurbish discarded products for resale. This helps companies stay cost-effective with the rising cost of raw materials. Instead of spending more for new raw materials, companies can break down their returned or discarded products and use their raw materials to create new products.
This loop helps companies reduce costs and bypass the initial costs of putting new processes in motion. A circular supply chain can also help companies enjoy a reduced risk of rapid and negative price changes. They will produce less waste, which also helps them reduce their impact on the environment.
Adoption of AI and ML Technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are infiltrating the modern supply chain. AI uses algorithms that help computers behave more like humans to solve complicated problems. ML takes this a step further and allows the computer to improve and learn based on collected data and experience. Incorporating these technologies into your supply chain management can help you get better results. Take Amazon for example: They use AI to track the purchasing habits of their customers and uses collected information to recommend other products to them.
Focus on Automation
There are many forms of automation but to put it plainly, it incorporates simple use technology to manage workflow and improve processes. Some forms of automation include robots or sophisticated conveyor systems in warehouses that eliminate the risk of human error and can run efficiently on their own.
Emphasis of Security
As technology advances, attacks on information technology systems and software increases as well. Even large companies are not immune to massive security breaches, as their systems are relentlessly being threatened. There are a wide range of cyber security attacks that could affect your online information, which is why it is vital to emphasize security going forward. There are many security solutions available that can help protect you from unauthorized hacks and data breaches. As supply chains rely on the digital world to share information, the risks increase but so do the opportunities to protect your systems.
More companies are learning how valuable transparency is to their customers. Consumers are concerned about the impact of modern businesses on society and the environment, which means companies need to improve their operations to reduce any negative impact and be transparent with their customers. Eventually, companies may have to provide reports on the impact their supply chains have on jobs created, sourcing practices, labour, and modes of transportation used. Disclosing these aspects of the supply chain can help companies improve their brand image among their consumers and be prepared if there are any regulatory requirements that arise.
How Lean Supply Solutions Can Help You
As you can see, the supply chain is changing a lot. The expectations of today’s consumers and the competition from businesses who are already moving forward with technology and software are increasing the urgency for every business to get up to par. All these changes may seem overwhelming, especially for a new business; however, with the assistance and resources of a third-party logistics (3PL) provider you can quickly get up to speed.
There are providers that already have automation, AI, cloud-based solutions, security and green initiatives in place. All you need to do is team up with them and let them handle your warehousing. Looking for the right company to partner with? Look no further.
Lean Supply Solutions provides effective supply chain management and is current on the trends mentioned above. We commit to being aware of our clients’ operational challenges and help them get the most out of their processes through our exceptional services. We can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results by ensuring that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, while saving you money. We can also help you track and understand your metrics better. Our services include warehouse pick and pack, contract logistics, manufacturing support, technology, warehousing distribution services, e-commerce fulfillment, consulting, and more.
To learn more about our warehouse value-added services or to ask any questions, contact us today.