5 Best Practices in Fulfillment

5 Best Practices in Fulfillment

07/21/2016

Fulfillment is all about getting orders to customers. It includes warehousing, finding the items ordered, packing them, shipping them, handling inventory and managing returned goods. Technology is revolutionizing all of this. As a result, retail organizations today are seeking value and opportunities in how they ship and fulfil. The following five best practices have been noted by experts and are becoming crucial to the omnichannel retail journey:

Choose Multiple Carriers

Reliable omnichannel fulfillment requires flexibility. This can only be achieved through access to multiple carriers. Multiple carriers will not only enable you to offer your customers convenient shipping options. You will also save on the costs of shipping by optimizing a courier for each individual delivery, irrespective of the retail channel used. Your customers don’t want to know where their product is shipped from, as long as they receive it on time. Multilocation shipping will allow you to ship directly from stores, warehouses, third party providers or suppliers, saving on shipping costs and creating a positive shipping experience for your customers.

Set Up Effective Shipping Processes

The Omnichannel Fulfillment Process is far more complex than traditional online shipping. Many retailers are offering shipping solutions for the omnichannel world that are too costly and not sustainable in the long run. To manage shipping costs, you need to understand how your customers shift between retail channels. Your distribution center needs to be designed to cater for demand from multiple channels. To reduce the costs of shipping, you should audit your warehouse fulfillment processes. Increasing automation in your warehouse, for pick, pack and dispatch processes for example, can reduce your costs of shipping and create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Build a Technology Infrastructure for Shipping

Retailers need effective systems to support an end-to-end omnichannel shipping experience. To benefit from the shipping process in today’s retail sector, you need to utilize smart fulfillment technology and integrate it with your eCommerce platform and other core business systems. Order management, warehouse management, inventory and fulfillment systems must be fully integrated and in sync to unearth true omnichannel shipping.

Use Real-time Inventory Data

In the Traditional Customer Lifecycle, inventory was easily managed at the store level. Retailers and customers were happy. Omnichannel order and fulfillment has complicated this. Today, you need visibility of inventory across your entire organization. If you want to ship retail goods from multiple locations, you need to have real-time visibility of stock. Your inventory feed is critical and will feed into other essential business systems. To create a consistent, seamless experience for your customers, they too require visibility of your inventory.

Create Consistency Across Channels

Wherever customers choose to shop, they want a consistent experience linked to all retail channels. To achieve consistency, you need to adapt your business model to satisfy the changing needs of your customers. You need to establish a common language and uniform functionality across all interactions with your customers, irrespective of the channel they transact through. Forrester Research found that if a product is out of stock in-store, customers would  prefer to complete the purchase in that store and have it shipped to their home, rather than go through the hassle of visiting another store.

In the early days of retail, home delivery was an essential part of the retail journey which added significant value to the process of exchanging goods. Today, eCommerce is transforming shipping and fulfillment like never before, however the ability to optimize the true value of shipping remains hidden to many retailers.

To unearth the value of shipping you need to appreciate the evolution of your customer’s retail journey, where it has come from and where it is going. You need to adopt the technology opportunities available today in order to embrace the eCommerce revolution of tomorrow. 

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