Retailers are always on the lookout for ways to break away from the competition and make their brands stand out. This has always been a challenge for retail businesses, but more so in the digital age. Offering competitive prices no longer works as well as it used to since other stores are also capable of matching the best prices of other retailers. To set their brands apart and win returning customers, many businesses are focusing on providing outstanding customer experiences. Order fulfillment, or the entire system of receiving and processing orders and delivering them to waiting customers, directly impacts customer satisfaction and the bottom line of the business. Streamlining this particular process will enable retailers to offer top-notch services that can potentially attract many loyal customers.
So what can retailers do to make their order fulfillment process more efficient and give their customers excellent experiences with every interaction? Here are practical ways to achieve this goal.
1. Determine the Factors Impacting Order Fulfillment
Before implementing any changes in their order fulfillment systems, it’s a must for retailers to get a general view of their business processes first. A peek into their ERP system will enable retailers to see the big picture, determine and track the factors that contribute to the quality of their order fulfillment services, and see which areas may best benefit from streamlining. Perhaps the company needs to address gaps in its supply chain, keep a closer eye on its stocks and reassess when to order fast-moving items, or integrate fragmented steps in its order fulfillment process. These issues need to be addressed individually so that the company can raise the overall quality of its order fulfillment.
2. Maximize the Benefits of Automation
Many retailers deal with large volumes of individual and stand-alone orders. Fielding these orders and accurately putting them together quickly and efficiently requires a lot of manpower or the use of a precise automated system. Today’s future-forward retailers aim to permanently improve their capacity to quickly process orders, which is why they turn to automated solutions. By automating their order fulfillment processes, retailers can seamlessly proceed from receiving the completed order, procuring the items from their stock room, packing and labeling the order, and forwarding the package to the courier. Through automation, a retailer can keep up and process large volumes of orders at any time.
3. Leverage Third-Party Service Providers
Delegating tasks to a reliable third-party company can be a win-win solution for retailers. Entering an agreement with a third-party delivery services provider, for example, will give a retailer the space and resources it needs to enhance its in-house order fulfillment processes. The delivery company, on the other hand, can focus on streamlining the delivery process and ensuring that the customers will be able to receive their orders in perfect condition as soon as possible. For this partnership to work, though, a retailer needs to find an excellent third-party services provider. These companies can work together to give customers excellent purchasing experiences and raise the recognition and recall of both brands.
4. Bring Warehouses to Where the Customers Are
Another practical way of streamlining order fulfillment is placing warehouses in areas where there are already a lot of customers. If a retailer’s market is mostly urban spaces, for example, then it makes sense to keep warehouses in cities and urbanizing areas. The retailer can receive the orders from a centralized location and then forward each to the warehouse nearest to the receiving address. The people in the warehouse will then send the order to the customer. The strategic placement of the warehouse helps reduce the time it needs for the package to reach the people who ordered it.
5. Give Customers Delivery and Shipping Updates
Today’s customers expect retailers to keep them informed on the location and state of their orders. Meeting this demand is an essential part of a satisfying order fulfillment experience for customers. Retailers can treat their customers as partners and give them a heads-up about their orders through the use of tracking numbers. The retailer can send an automated message to the customer as soon as the items have been packed. Updates can be sent once the package has been picked up by the courier and as soon as it’s on its way to the customer’s address.
Making buyers happy by providing them with excellent purchasing experiences is a great way for retailers to improve brand awareness and win returning customers. However, to consistently deliver high standards of service, retailers need to incorporate new technologies into their processes and implement significant changes in their systems. The items in the above list can be a good start. Eventually, as they become more familiar with their modified order fulfillment systems, retailers can refine each step as they see fit and truly customize their order fulfillment processes. This continuous change, in turn, will enable them to meet the specific needs and goals of their establishments and the evolving expectations of their customers.
Find the Right ERP System for Your Retail Establishment through ANSI
An ERP system plays an essential role in streamlining a retailer’s order fulfillment process. If you need an enterprise resource planning solution for your retail business, check out ANSI. Our company is a trusted provider of ERP systems, and we can help you find the right tools to increase your operational efficiency. Contact us today for inquiries.