Not just an unavoidable business cost, order fulfillment (if you get it right) has the means to give your ecommerce business the competitive edge. With so much choice on the internet for the discerning online buyer, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd and remain profitable. Consumers expect your inventory to be completely available when they shop. Delays are likely to mean they will shop elsewhere now and in the future.
Market leaders Amazon, understand the importance of order fulfillment and are currently trialing same day delivery services using their own trucks; giving them ultimate control of the timing of deliveries, whilst keeping the costs down. A recent survey indicated, almost two-thirds of customers wanted next day delivery and nearly a quarter would use a same day delivery service, if it were available.
Efficient order fulfillment is crucial for all ecommerce and multi-channel sellers. Outsourcing the fulfillment part of the supply chain allows smaller ecommerce companies to benefit from economies of scale and is likely to improve the company’s profitability.
Order composition is changing. Online orders usually consist of one or two items re-ordered on a more frequent basis. Later cutoff points for orders and faster order processing will offset the costs of fulfilling smaller orders faster. The benefits of positive customer feedback and increases in sales resulting from, quick, low cost deliveries should give you the competitive edge but choosing the right order fulfillment company for your ecommerce business requires that you consider the following:
Research – Does your order fulfillment company understand your business strategy? If not, they are unlikely to provide you with the order fulfillment package that meets your current and future needs.
Accountability – The order fulfillment company must be accountable to you and your customers; they are a vital link between you and your customers. Their actions will impact on your business reputation and future sales
Flexibility – Your order fulfillment partner must offer you the capacity you require in a timely way to allow the order fulfillment stage of the supply process to grow with your sales seamlessly.
Finding the right order fulfillment partner is a sound investment and an important strategic move in gaining the competitive edge.