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Automated Order Fulfillment for Shopify: Everything you know about it



What is order fulfillment?





If you are an Amazon seller-
handling order fulfillment in-house, then you will agree that the steps to
getting orders to your customers are never a walk in the park. Besides, if any
of those steps faces a breakdown, then it can delay your orders from actually
getting out the store and safely into your customers’ hands. Such a scenario
would considerably hurt your brand.





Outsourcing order fulfillment (automated)
can be the game-changer for you, delivering considerable value for your brand
and preventing hurdles from occurring. With automated and outsourced order
fulfillment, each crucial step in the order fulfillment process is left to be taken
care of by an expert 3PL (third-party logistics), thus saving you time and
energy to focus on other vital aspects of the business.





Generally, this is the
overview of the essential steps involved in order fulfillment:





  • Receiving
    inventory shipments
  • Inventory
    storage
  • Order
    processing
  • Shipping
  • Returns
    processing




For most merchants, order
fulfillment is an expensive and sophisticated process. Some companies/vendors
handle order fulfillment in-house, while others who have mastered the tricks
usually outsource the process to a 3PL company.





Briefly, let’s take a look at
other challenges of order fulfillment.





Challenges of order
fulfillment





It’s never easy implementing
effective order fulfillment processes. Vendors face complex challenges when it
comes to demand, inventory management, and logistics planning.





Let me break it down for you;





Inventory management: Running
low or out of stock is a possible occurrence for most sellers. It can be a quick
way to deter customers from shopping with you. Masters of the game, who succeed
in maintaining optimal inventory levels, hardly worry about losing customers to
their competitors due to running out of stock.





Demand planning: It’s vital
to know the demand for your products. In this way, you also won’t risk
overstocking (which can be just as risky as understocking). Planning for demand
involves using marketing and promotions to create a functional demand model.





Logistics planning: The
shipping process is as important as the sales process itself, if not more
important. As a seller, you need to ensure that the shipping methods, speed,
and the care given to getting products to your customers are pin-point.
Otherwise, you risk late fulfillment, damaged packages, which does nothing but hurt
your brand reputation and sales.





Supply chain execution:
Even with the best planning, running out of inventory can still happen,
especially during unexpected spikes in demand like during the holidays. When
demand depletes your stocks, you should be in a position to replenish those
items as quickly as possible.





What is critical is the right inventory at the right location
at the right time. This will give a big leg-up to shipping times. You need to choose a service provider that can quickly
fulfill your orders if you want to compete.





Order fulfillment best
practices





Creating an automated order
fulfillment process would be the key to winning over customers and maintaining
the unique brand you are establishing. Additionally, there are other good
practices to keep in mind to help you optimize your outsourced automated order
fulfillment processes.





Choose what works best for you





It would be best if you chose
the order fulfillment model that would work best for you. The model should be
flexible to handle your order volumes, customer locations, and sales channels.
If you sell customized or made-to-order products, then your fulfillment process
must be able to accommodate those complexities without adding unnecessary
delays.





Use data to drive your decisions





Your technology should support
order fulfillment with real-time data, giving you inventory visibility and
enabling more accurate demand predictions. Making data-driven decisions about buying,
selling, and production only makes it easier for you to keep up with demand and
en maintain optimized inventory levels.





Communicate clearly and effectively





If you have better supply
chain visibility, you will be able to set clear expectations with customers
about deliveries. You should be transparent about the returns processes, as
well.





Don’t be intimidated by automation





Lastly, it would help if you
leveraged warehouse automation to improve order fulfillment accuracy and efficacy
to meet your customers' expectations better. Remember, flexible automated solutions
and software like collaborative mobile robots and AiHello can help optimize
picking routes in real-time, thereby reducing unnecessary hustles of walking
and improving picking efficiency. Collaborative mobile robots & automated
software leverage AI and machine learning; this will help in guiding warehouse
associates through some tasks to help them work faster while minimizing errors.





There’s no one single order
fulfillment process that will work for every business. Whether you choose to
outsource to a 3PL company or use a hybrid fulfillment model, in the end, the
most important thing is finding the right process that meets your company’s
needs and fulfills your customers' expectations seamlessly.





Importance of outsourced automated
order fulfillment





Today’s online shoppers are
used to fast delivery (two-day or even next-day shipping options). Hence, the
demand is always high for fast and on-time shipments. When your order
fulfillment process is inconsistent or untimely, you will struggle with getting
shipments delivered on time, which will hurt your business’ reputation, which I
assume is every brand’s bottom line.





Order fulfillment options have
a direct say on customers’ buying habits. Customers only care about themselves;
they want delivery options that work best for them. Offering a mix of quick and
moderate shipping options allows consumers to make a decision based on their
budget and time constraints. Poor delivery alone is enough for more than
45% of your customers to consider shopping elsewhere!





Conclusion





I bet your bottom-line is to
gain a competitive advantage; one of the best ways for sellers is to deliver on
customer expectations on fast delivery and prompt return services. An automated
outsourced fulfillment helps you to:





  • Lower
    shipping costs
  • Reduce
    operational costs
  • Expand your
    customer base
  • Enhance
    customer service
  • Focus on
    selling




Using a 3PL for returns
processing saves a ton of your time. Not only will they manage the returns from
a physical processing standpoint, but they can also handle the customer support
piece of the return. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for everyone as your
customer gets expedited service, and you also get to have a better reverse
logistics operation.





Don't just pick any automation
software for your eCommerce store, choose a leader like AiHello, and sky-rocket
your sales today.


QuickEdit
Ganesh
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