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How to design an order fulfilment process

Your website has been optimised, the sale process is streamlined and the orders are coming in but there seems to be many hiccups on the way to getting the orders filled and shipped. How can we design a better order fulfilment process? And what is an order fulfilment process anyway?

An order fulfilment process is all the steps involved in getting an order from your customer to them receiving the order and maybe returning it if they are dissatisfied. This process can be done in four ways:

  • In-house: The company does all the steps of the order fulfilment process with their employees.
  • Outsourcing: A third-party logistics company (3PL) deals with the order processing, storing, shipping and return processing on behalf of a company. The 3PL will store the inventory on its premise so that the company doesn’t have to worry about warehousing for their products.
  • Dropshipping: This method is similar to using a 3PL but the dropshipping company doesn’t hold any inventory. They will request the manufacturer to send the order directly to the client.
  • Hybrid: Many companies use a combination of these order fulfilment methods.

Now, let’s take a look at the steps involved in the order fulfilment process:

STEP 1: Receiving inventory

When you receive inventory, you need to capture it into your inventory management software. If it is a new item, you will need to create a new code for the item. If you manufacture your products, you will need to enter the product into the software when the product is ready to sell.

STEP 2: Storing inventory

This is possibly the most important part of your order fulfilment process because if the items are stored incorrectly, it could lead to inaccurate orders or delays in the packing process.

You need to ensure you store your inventory in a logical way and that you clearly label where each item is stored.

STEP 3: Processing an order

This involves receiving an order from your customer and then beginning the steps to fulfil the order. In this step, you will need to print out the shipping address and a picking form.

STEP 4: Picking the inventory

You will need to go to where you store your inventory and pick out the items which you need to fill the order.

STEP 5: Packing the inventory

After you have all the items necessary for the order, you need to ensure you package it securely so that nothing gets damaged in transit.

STEP 6: Shipping the package

Carefully research the various courier companies to ensure you choose the one which suits your needs the best. Depending on the number of orders and the distance you need to travel for your orders, you could choose to do the deliveries yourself.

STEP 7: Returning an item

Sometimes your customer may not be happy with the product they have purchased. It is important to have a process in place on how you will deal with returns from your customers.

By going through each of these steps you will be filling orders more accurately and quickly than before.

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