If you have an online store, you may be faced with the challenge of keeping customers coming back, especially since the holidays are long behind us. And unless you’re up to speed with Amazon, you may need some tips on how to enhance your e-commerce fulfillment services in Toronto. There are many tips that can help you update your processes to meet customer expectations, save money, boost productivity and efficiency in the warehouse, and improve communications with your shipper and suppliers. The following tips will get you started towards growing your business and gaining more customers.
Seamless Integration with the Supplier
In most cases, products sold online are sourced from distributors, drop ship suppliers, and sometimes the brand itself. In each scenario, a seamless connection between your order management system (OMS) and your suppliers is crucial. There are programs and software designed to make this communication seamless, so investing in the programs or working with an outsourced order fulfillment services company will make this possible.
Higher Order Visibility and Tracking Process
Can you, your suppliers, and your customers see the items available through your online store? Higher visibility across this channel will allow you to provide more products to your customers, plus you will be better able to track inventory as well. End-to-end visibility of your orders, combined with the ability to track them from start to finish, is key to a successful supply chain. This gives you more control over your inventory and lets you assist orders that get stuck anywhere in the system. Higher visibility also lets you know when an item is low in stock so you can contact your suppliers for more.
Exception-Based Order Management
One order management strategy is to tell customers their orders will be delivered late and then try to make up for the bad user experience. A better way to handle a situation like this is to upgrade delayed shipments to faster shipping so you can still meet the original delivery date stated upon the customer’s purchase. This will cost you more to fulfill the order, but you won’t have to risk losing a customer from a bumpy shopping experience. Good business the first time increases the chances of repeat business going ahead. Exception-based order management ensures that your processes go as planned, and when there is a risk of a delayed or misplaced order, you get an alert. With this system on hand, your process will run smoothly and you will be able to handle situations well when there are issues.
To speed up the order fulfillment process, you should implement the use of automation. This doesn’t have to mean investing in robots to perform manual processes, but it does mean that you can better track what comes in and out of inventory in real time. High-quality scanners make this possible, and software presents users with a dashboard so they can keep track of items. There are also apps that can be downloaded onto tablets and smartphones which also allow for automation.
Intelligent Warehousing Strategies
Since “Amazon Prime” is one of the leading standards of shipping today, online shoppers expect two-day deliveries as a standard feature. Some customers are even prepared to pay extra for next-day or same-day shipments. This may require products to be shipped by air, or from a warehouse that is located closer to the shopper’s location. Unless your business is large enough to have multiple warehouse locations, a third-party logistics partner (3PL) provider may be your next best option to meet customer expectations. This way, you can achieve the same results at a fraction of the cost.
Choosing the Right Shipper
With your back-end processes running smoothly, you can become very successful with your online venture. However, if your shipper is not up to speed, it won’t matter how good the relationship is that you have with your supplier. If your deliveries are sent out on time, but because of the shipper arrive late or are delayed, lost, forgotten, or damaged, you need to make some changes. Choosing a shipping service that continuously meets your standards is equally as important as your visibility and communication with your suppliers.
Keep Customers Informed
In e-commerce, the order fulfillment process begins when the customer completes a transaction. Every step of your process, from supplier coordination to dispatching and delivery, occurs while the customer waits at the other end. Keeping your customers informed and engaged by sharing details and updates about their order will strengthen and improve your relationship with them. A good order management system will update the customer when their order was received from the supplier, dispatched to their address, where it is along the route, and when it arrives to their doorstep. You can update your customer with e-mail notifications, which will keep them satisfied and encourage repeat business.
Smooth Return Policy
Even though your customer has received their order, you may still have work to do if there is something wrong with it. Many times, this results in returns, which can end up as refunds instead of replacements. About 30% of e-commerce orders turn into returns, whereas brick-and-mortar stores have only a return rate of nine percent. If you have an efficient process in place that makes refunds simple and easy, you may win your customers back and end up with repeat business. What does this look like? The term used for these situations is “reverse logistics,” and if you work with a 3PL provider, you will benefit from this service. You should also collaborate with suppliers who accept returns, refunds, and replacements. If you want to pave the way for repeat purchases from customers, provide a minimum 30-day return window, free return shipping, and zero restocking fees.
Thorough Staff Training
Ensuring that your staff is fully trained is crucial to a smooth product fulfillment process. Staff should be aware of as much as possible in terms of what they will encounter in their work, and what your expectations are for them. Training new employees is valuable, as are refresher training sessions for when new technology or processes are brought in.
Outsource Your Order Fulfillment Process with 3PL Provider Lean Supply Solutions
As mentioned, a 3PL provider can help you manage your operations so you can focus on making your business and brand more accessible to your online shoppers. They can help you with most of the jobs mentioned above so you save time and money and speed up your success and revenue. If you’re looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We arise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services, which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, and order fulfillment. Lean Supply Solutions can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team, or to ask any questions, contact us at 905-482-2590.