Looking to Outsource Order Fulfillment to a 3PL?
It’s no secret that eCommerce is revolutionizing the retail industry, and it’s clear that businesses must adapt to stay competitive. Running an online store requires a different approach than a brick-and-mortar shop. For instance, you’ll need to think about things like retail fulfillment — to get your products to your customers quickly and efficiently.
If you’re just starting out with your eCommerce business, you might be wondering what retail fulfillment is, and its effect on your online business. Well, keep reading, in this article you will discover the process of retail fulfillment and its importance for your eCommerce business.
What is Retail Fulfillment?
Retail fulfillment is the process of providing customers with products they have purchased. This includes the ordering, packaging, and delivery of the product. It is a crucial part of the customer experience and can have a major impact on customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, retail fulfillment is often overlooked or taken for granted. Many companies fail to realize how important it is to provide their customers with a positive experience when it comes to receiving their products. Poorly managed fulfillment processes can lead to customer dissatisfaction, lost sales, and even negative reviews.
It is important for companies to take retail fulfillment seriously and ensure that their processes are efficient and effective. This means investing in the right technology, training staff, and having a clear understanding of customer needs. By doing so, companies can ensure that their customers are satisfied and that their products are delivered on time.
The Importance Of Retail Fulfillment For Your eCommerce Business
Large eCommerce businesses recognize the importance of optimizing the retail fulfillment process, as it has a profound influence on customer satisfaction and overall profitability. When you handle the retail fulfillment process internally, it incurs packaging costs, shipping costs, and other unforeseen expenses. Furthermore, if orders are not delivered promptly, customers will likely turn to a more reliable business.
It is essential for your eCommerce business to have a successful retail fulfillment process in order to promote growth, allow expansion as order volume increases and maximize profits.
The Complete Workflow of The Retail Fulfillment Process
Retail fulfillment process typically takes place in one or more distribution centers. The process is commendable for its comprehensive approach, which involves inventory monitoring, supply chain fulfillment management, order processing, and quality control. Also, customer support is essential for clients who require product returns, exchanges, or need to report any issues. The following are the process of retail fulfillment:
1. Receiving Inventory
Receiving Inventory is the first step of the fulfillment process. Inventory is received at the distribution center from suppliers and is then promptly checked for accuracy and quality. Furthermore, the inventory is counted to ensure the correct amount was received. Subsequently, it is stored in the fulfillment center until it is needed. For efficient processes, bar codes or SKUs are used in the receiving, storage, and retrieval processes.
The inventory received at the fulfillment center or warehouse is promptly distributed or sent to storage. It is essential that the inventory is stored in an efficient manner that optimizes space and allows for easy retrieval when required. For instance, items with high turnover should be stored in an accessible area, whereas items with low turnover should be stored in a less accessible location.
3. Order Processing
Upon receipt of an order in your shopping cart system, orders are immediately dispatched to the nearest fulfillment center for processing. This process entails the selection of the item, packing, and preparing it for shipping. Selection can be accomplished either by a picking team or automated robots, depending on the packing slip’s instructions, which typically include a list of item SKUs, product colors, sizes, quantities and locations.
4. Packing Orders
The packing team or automated fulfillment robots must efficiently pack newly received customer orders with the aim of achieving the lowest possible dimensional weight. This is essential, as space is a valuable commodity in delivery trucks. Furthermore, return shipping materials and labels should be included in the packing process, to ensure customers have the convenience of exchanging, returning, or requesting a refund for any item.
5. Shipping Orders
Once packed, the order is dispatched to a shipping node or transportation channel for delivery to the customer. By utilizing the correct pick and pack solutions, fulfillment is expedited, and freight costs are minimized.
Examples of major carriers are: UPS, DHL, and USPS. Note: it’s important to meet the packaging requirements outlined by the carrier, failure to do so could lead to delayed shipments if carriers refuse to accept the order.
The retail fulfillment process is successfully concluded when customers receive their orders. Utilizing order tracking to monitor the progress of an order and supply customers with updates is highly advantageous. Doing so will significantly reduce the number of calls made to the customer service desk, as customers will be informed of the status of their order.
8. Processing Returns
It should be expected that customers may return eCommerce orders occasionally, and it is essential to be prepared for such occurrences. An efficiently designed returns management process can minimize the costs and difficulties associated with returns or exchanges.
Why You Should Outsource Retail fulfillment to a Third Party (3PL) Partner
Outsourcing retail fulfillment is an excellent choice for businesses that wish to concentrate on their fundamental strengths and entrust the fulfillment process to professionals. The fulfillment company stores inventory and oversees the entire retail order filling process, thus allowing your business to prioritize its core value and mission.
Some companies like ShipHype offer other subset of fulfillment such as: DTC fulfillment, crowdfunding fulfillment, subscription box fulfilment, etc. When you outsource retail fulfillment, you can anticipate the following benefits:
1. Improved Efficiency and Supply Chain Insights
Utilizing a tech-enabled fulfillment provider can help to automate your fulfillment process. Services like ShipHype offer an excellent retail order fulfillment process that include features such as order management, data analytics, and more.
2. Specialization and Experience
The purpose of 3PL services is to offer businesses a specialized inbound and outbound logistics knowledge and assistance. Their personnel are adept at streamlining the retail fulfillment process with years of expertise in the field.
3. Speed and Accuracy
Utilizing a fulfillment provider is an excellent way to expedite your retail fulfillment process, allowing you to prioritize the tasks that your brand is good at. With a retail fulfillment partner managing the picking, packing, and delivery, your business can be rest assured that any sudden surge in consumer demand will be met without compromising customer experience.
4. Reduced Costs
Retail fulfillment is an excellent way for your business to reduce shipping and inventory costs while staying ahead of the competition. By taking advantage of this service, you can increase sales, improve customer service, and reduce costs. Moreover, your eCommerce business will benefit significantly from lower shipping costs and faster delivery times when shipping from multiple fulfillment centers.
Contact ShipHype today to get a shipping analysis and quote for smarter and faster retail fulfillment solutions.