6 Fulfillment Process Challenges in E-Commerce

eCommerce Fulfillment Making It Work

As an eCommerce business owner, you already know the importance of fulfillment.

Customer satisfaction hinges on your ability to deliver goods in a timely fashion without any major complications.

But it is always possible that your fulfillment process is faulty. You may not be aware of it now, but as pressure is applied, you will start to recognize that something isn’t working.

There are telltale signs that your fulfillment process will never work over the long haul.

Examine the following six to determine whether or not you might be falling into a trap:

1. You Don’t Have The Right People In Place

Although it might not be immediately obvious to you when you’ve hired the wrong personnel, not having the right internal expertise is a surefire sign your fulfillment process is bound for failure.

You need to have people in place that know what they’re doing when it comes to warehouse technology and order fulfillment.

These areas are complex, and require specialized knowledge – for example, an understanding of the regions packages are being shipped to, and what requirements and regulations are in place.

2. You Don’t Have The Right Technology In Place

This goes hand-in-hand with the last point.

Businesses sometimes balk at the expense of fulfillment technology, and worse yet, they don’t actually have anyone in their company that knows how to utilize it.

Manual picking, packing and shipping checklists and procedures might work for a while, but as soon as you see a spike in orders, you’ll be overwhelmed and unable to keep up.

3. You’re Spending Less Time On Marketing And Business Growth Initiatives

If you want to drive sales, you have to focus on marketing and business growth.

By default, these responsibilities fall in the hands of the business owner.

But if you’re finding that you’re constantly fielding employee questions, and spending more time in the warehouse than on differentiating your brand in the marketplace and advertising key products, something is wrong:

Either you’ll see a significant drop in sales, or you’ll be stuck doing the work you should be delegating.

Efficient order fulfillment can give you a competitive edge, and should be a top priority for business owners.

4. You Don’t Have The Infrastructure To Support Future Growth

Your operation may appear to be running like a well-oiled machine right now, but what happens when your business starts growing?

  • What if you end up needing more warehouse space?
  • What if you need more people to handle picking, packing and shipping?
  • What if your current systems and software applications aren’t scalable?

When you can’t keep up, you can’t grow, and your fulfillment process will fall apart.

5. You Can’t Afford To Expand

It’s one thing to have to scramble to rebuild your infrastructure to support growth within your business. It’s quite another to not have the resources you need to be able to scale and grow.

If you can’t keep up with costs, you can’t hire more people or move to a new warehouse.

You can’t purchase additional technology or inventory either. Your fulfillment process will also suffer, because there’s nothing more you can do to change it or make it more efficient.

6. Your Customer Reviews Are Getting Worse And Worse

One of the major causes for negative customer reviews is poor fulfillment.

When orders are consistently arriving at their doorsteps late, damaged or broken, it isn’t just because of the couriers – your process is likely incomplete and inefficient.

You should take this to mean that your fulfillment process isn’t working, and that it needs to change. The difficult part is that you may not necessarily know exactly what you need to do to turn frowns into smiles again.

Final Thoughts

Have you noticed any of these signs in your business?

While it may be hard to recognize them while you’re working day-in day-out to satisfy your customers, you must take note of bottlenecks in your process.

And if you identify these inefficiencies, you also have to find a way to systematize, automate, delegate or even eliminate them.

Outsourcing your fulfillment is another option worthy of your consideration.

You can have an experienced distribution centre handle orders on your behalf, which can give you the freedom you need to focus on growing your business. Costs tend to be more predictable as well.

Just remember to find a partner you can trust.

 

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  • April 26, 2016