As a customer, you value it when your online orders arrive safely, on time, and at a reasonable price. It is your responsibility as a brand or retailer to make that happen. E-commerce order fulfillment refers to the entire process, from initial order placement to final delivery. The promise of a sale, combined with the potential pitfalls of order fulfillment, is a goal and a challenge for any company. How can you improve the print on demand process from order to delivery? Let’s look at how to improve your eCommerce order fulfillment process, customer satisfaction, and bottom line with these 8 print on demand tips and answers to your biggest questions.
A QUICK DEFINITION OF ORDER FULFILLMENT
The process of receiving an order and managing its delivery to the customer is known as order fulfillment. Processing the order in a multichannel commerce platform, sending it to the warehouse for fulfillment, assembling and packing it, shipping it, and confirming final delivery are all typical tasks. However, long before a customer clicks “place order,” this process necessitates preparation and planning. The possibility of returns is an additional step to consider in the fulfillment process. Some businesses include shipping materials and a return slip with the initial order. Accepting a return necessitates quality control to ensure the product is not damaged or soiled and can be properly restocked.
WHY IS QUALITY ORDER FULFILLMENT IMPORTANT?
One of the most important aspects of any sale is order fulfillment. You’ve spent time and money to find and convert the right clients, and the hard work is done if you nail the print on demand fulfillment stage. All your efforts will be for naught if the order arrives late, damaged, or incorrect. Customers, especially first-time customers, are not particularly forgiving of late orders. Of course, order fulfillment impacts many other aspects of your business, including inventory management and control. When demand increases, you must order more goods and keep them on hand to ensure the smooth operation of your print on demand fulfillment process.
8 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR PRINT ON DEMAND FULFILLMENT
Step 1: Demand seamless integration
You likely do not manufacture the goods you sell in-house. Your online goods are most likely sourced from various distributors, stored in warehouses, and then shipped to your customers. If this is the case for your business, seamless integrations between your vendors and order management system are critical for the most efficient and timely fulfillment. To manage picking, packing, and shipping, you should be able to easily integrate your preferred print on demand service provider or warehouse management system (WMS). Finally, the dreaded typically ships in 2 to 4 weeks and can rest.
Step 2: Enable end-to-end order visibility
You must ensure that you can see everything in your supply chain. In layman’s terms, this means that you and your suppliers should be able to access the same catalog, inventory fulfillment, and order fulfillment processes — to see what items are available, in what quantities, and where they are located. Furthermore, your e-commerce customers who are browsing should be able to see whether an item is in stock and, if quantities are limited or quantity matters, how many items are available. This clarity is referred to as end-to-end visibility, which is critical for customer satisfaction and accurate order fulfillment.
If your shipper consistently underperforms, your customers will blame your company’s reputation rather than the service provider. Allow regular audits of your current fulfillment partner to avoid this: Do they provide real-time, accurate order tracking? Is there a recent increase in late shipments, delayed shipments, lost shipments, forgotten shipments, or damaged deliveries at your shipper? If this is the case, it’s time to devote time and resources to finding a new and better shipper to meet your print on demand fulfillment needs. Maintain strong relationships with your fulfillment partners to negotiate the best deals, stay informed, and understand their processes to avoid delays.
Step 4: Enable exception-based order management
Instead of simply informing customers that their orders have been delayed (and thus risking negative customer experiences), you can automatically upgrade shipping methods to meet your original delivery promise. Exception-based order management will cost you a little more in shipping, but it will save you a headache and the financial consequences of angry customers and lost business. This automated procedure can also increase brand loyalty and the likelihood of repeat purchases.
Step 5: Choose your warehouse locations wisely
Today’s e-commerce customers want their orders as soon as possible. You can select warehouses and shippers that can meet your quick picking and shipping needs. Alternatively, you can store products in several warehouses located throughout your delivery area and thus close to your customers’ homes to ensure fast but low-cost ground shipping. Finally, use smart shipping algorithms to help identify the best shipping method, so you don’t overspend but also don’t under-deliver.
Step 6: Communicate regularly with your customer
You should maintain constant contact with your customer throughout the process. We’re also not talking about a simple “Thank you for your order” email. No, we mean real-time, on-demand communication about order status, from order, received, and in the process to order shipped and delivered.
Step 7: Handle returns and refunds like a pro
Returns happen. Indeed, approximately 30% of online purchases are returned. It is necessary for every business, but only some businesses approach it positively. Make an exception. Keep your cool. And be efficient at all times. Only work with print on demand service providers who accept returns, have no restocking fees and can process refunds and replacements. Yes, be clear about your return policy, but also create efficient processes for handling returns, managing reverse logistics, and issuing refunds.
Step 8: Monitor fulfillment end-to-end regularly
Don’t “set it and forget it.” Monitor your fulfillment speed, accuracy, and time to delivery regularly to ensure you’re meeting your goals and keeping your promises to customers. Select a system that provides complete tracking of orders, inventory, and all other eCommerce operations. A unified system ensures that you and your suppliers see the same catalog and order fulfillment progress. Customer inquiries and feedback can also gauge shopper satisfaction, prompting changes to your overall process.
FULFILLPLEX OPTIMIZES ORDER FULFILLMENT FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
Fulfillplex, a top eCommerce fulfillment company, enables you to manage orders from all channels more effectively. Our platform is built with flexibility, supporting a wide range of fulfillment options such as owned warehouses, FBA, and 3PLs. Furthermore, our order management and shipping management solutions provide complete visibility into your fulfillment operations, allowing you to proactively address issues and consistently meet customer expectations. Contact our team today for a demonstration of the Fulfillplex platform and to learn how we can assist you in developing a resilient print on demand fulfillment operation.