The order fulfillment phase includes the management, monitoring and speeding up of orders, receiving, inspecting, storing and dispatching to clients, as well as all related finance and accounting settlements and controlling of suppliers’ invoices.
Order fulfillment is defined as all the processes carried out from the moment a customer expresses interest in a product until the product physically and legally comes to the customer’s possession.
In other words, it refers to all the activities that take place from order placement until order delivery
More specifically, the order processing consists of the following (in chronological order):
- Stock management (inventory)
- Orderplacement:This is the customer’s request for products offered on a website or catalog
- Responding to a purchase order– Determining stock availability
- Reserve products(in case the order has more than one products)
- Orderdataentry of order into the stock control system/software)
- Invoicing/charging: Refers to issuing the relevant invoice to the customer
- Determining the order shipping address
- Selection of transportation company to deliver the order
- Change of order (part of it or all of it) upon customer’s request
- Pick and pack order (physically collecting and packaging the products at the warehouse or a distribution hub)
- Goods issue and transportation: Refers to sending out the products (either directly to the customer or to one or more distribution hubs)
- Delivery of products to the final customer (buyer)
- Payment by customer / buyer
- Returns handling (in case the order is not accepted by the customer or the products are defective) – new order dispatch and/or customer compensation
- Inventory management
The specific operational process is the most important one to ensure customer satisfaction. If the customer is satisfied by the whole process, most likely he/she will continue buying from the specific company.
Benefits of using an order fulfillment service:
TIME to do other things to grow your business, less stress. Running a business isn’t easy and there are a lot of moving parts. Is your valuable time worth using fulfilling orders, or is it better spent on aspects that need your attention and will impact your business such as marketing, sales and product development?
MONEY and resources saved. Just do a quick calculation of the labor costs involved to hire, train and do payroll for warehouse employees vs. the fees for all-in-one outsourced fulfillment. While we wish all businesses the large-scale success this would afford, for most small to medium businesses, it simply doesn’t add up.
BETTER SHIPPING RATES Fulfillment companies have developed and established relationships with the major shipping carriers; thusly they’re usually able to offer better shipping rates. If you sign with the right one, caring about getting you the best rates for the best service is their #1 priority.
SPACE There will come a point in time where packing orders out of your garage just isn’t going to cut it any longer and you need to expand. Warehouse space costs money, as does all the additional equipment needed to expand a self-fulfillment operation. Supplies include packing materials (from boxes to tape to bubble wrap), packing tables, shipping label printers (and heaven forbid, one goes down!), software licensing, not to mention the administrative duties just to keep everything in stock.
DEALING WITH RETURNS Your hands are full with sending orders out, what about the ones that come back IN and need to be entered back into inventory and restocked? Fulfillment centers take care of all your returns for you. Returns that go through our system are inspected, quickly processed, re-inventoried and automatically updated in your web portal.
AN END TO THE MISCELLANEOUS HEADACHES Taxes. Customs. Shipping insurance. Post office runs every day… Our automated processing ensures that getting your products to your customers fast and accurately is out of sight, out of mind.
In the end, the choice to bring in help for eCommerce fulfillment has to make financial and logistical sense – evaluate where your business is at, if can it afford it and if it’s ready to go to the next level.
The final stage of dispatching the products of an e-shop to the customer/buyer, may be the very last part of the order fulfillment process but it is very important. The reason is that it highly affects the cost of the whole process while at the same time, it is one of the most important factors that contribute to the level of customer satisfaction.
The main characteristics of the dispatching process are the following:
- Delivery Location
- Delivery Speed
- Delivery Fees
- Τrack and Τrace
A complete order fulfillment service ensures and provides all the benefits required to satisfy the customer because:
The warehouse location is much closer to the customer’s location
This ensures faster delivery of the order
The charges of the dispatch are drastically reduced
The traceability of the dispatch is ensured since it is part of the order fulfillment service
Schematically, the stages of the order fulfillment service provided by Athens Courier Services are shown as follows: