Ecommerce in India has evolved tremendously over the past few years while customer experience (CX) has become the top priority of ecommerce brands. Nowadays, customers expect a great brand experience regardless of the sales channel they shop from—be it a brand website like Shopify store or a marketplace like Flipkart, Amazon, and more.
The ecommerce order fulfilment process is one of the most crucial parts of the purchasing journey, which drastically impacts the customer experience.
Here are some facts to illustrate why a seamless fulfilment process is essential:
As an ecommerce brand, if you ensure an efficient and speedy fulfilment process, you can delight your customers—enabling you to dramatically improve customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, sales, and revenue.
In this blog, you will learn what is ecommerce order fulfilment, what are the steps involved in the fulfilment process, what are its challenges, and how to create a successful ecommerce order fulfilment strategy.
Ecommerce order fulfilment is the complete process that constitutes receiving an online order, picking, packing, and delivering it to customers. At times, it also includes handling ecommerce returns and exchanges.
Now let's see what the ecommerce order fulfilment process entails.
Receiving inventory in fulfilment warehouse: In order to fulfil online orders, you need inventory in hand. Receiving refers to accepting and storing incoming inventory at a fulfilment warehouse. It usually includes multiple documentation and physically keeping inventory in dedicated storage locations, such as shelves and pallets.
Storing inventory: Storing your inventory in a secure storage facility, i.e. a fulfilment warehouse, is critical for a smooth ecommerce fulfilment process. Moreover, you need to maintain a fulfilment warehouse for efficient and timely ecommerce order fulfilment.
Picking: When an online order is received from a customer, it is assigned to the picking team. The picker gets a picking slip that includes the items, quantities, and storage locations to collect the products from their respective locations in the fulfilment warehouse.
Packing: Products are packed with secure packing materials to protect your products in transit. These materials include dunnage, such as boxes, bubble mailers or poly bags. You can also use custom packaging to extend your brand experience to create an exceptional unboxing experience for your customers.
Performing quality checks: Ensuring your customers receive high-quality products is necessary. That's why you need to perform quality checks at the time of receiving your inventory in the fulfilment warehouse and during order processing. It helps you maintain your brand's credibility, minimise ecommerce returns and improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Ecommerce shipping: Orders are marked 'ready-to-ship' on time to meet all the Service Levels Agreements (SLAs) of every sales channel. The courier service then pickups the orders from the fulfilment warehouse. Then the courier service delivers them to the customer's location via one or more transportation methods.
1. Difficulty in preventing inventory stockout
Product stockouts are a significant concern area for ecommerce brands as well as prospective buyers. Therefore, you should make sure that you never run out of stock by ensuring timely inventory replenishment. If such scenarios happen frequently, they can hamper your ecommerce brand's reputation and make customers switch to your competitors.
2. Increasing shipping costs
When you're shipping your online orders yourself, you have to rely on shipping providers for providing cost-efficient shipping services across the country. However, you are unlikely to get discounts because of low order volumes. It makes speedy delivery expensive. Moreover, shipping costs become more expensive if your customers are located far away from your fulfilment warehouse.
3. Inability to offer fast and free delivery
Fast and free delivery is nowadays the standard service customers expect from ecommerce brands. You need to fulfil your online orders from multiple fulfilment warehouse locations in order to increase the shipping speed. For that, you need to split your inventory across a distributed network of fulfilment warehouses in the country to store your inventory closer to your customers. It means you have to make a massive investment in multiple fulfilment warehouses.
4. Inefficiency in handling ecommerce returns
Customers expect free returns and a seamless returns process; otherwise, you will lose your customers. To prevent that, you need to create an ideal returns policy that is customer-centric. According to research, 95% of online shoppers say a positive return experience affects brand loyalty. However, for an ecommerce brand, returns are costly.
5. Delivering damaged or incorrect products
When it comes to online orders, customers expect nothing less than perfection. For instance, a customer ordered glassware from your brand, and the glassware delivered to them is shattered. Moreover, if a customer ordered a white pair of shoes and got black ones instead. It ruins the entire shopping experience, tarnishes your brand image, causes return, and you may lose your revenue.
6. Strugging with poor customer experience
Customer experience is the key to customer loyalty. Even after a sale, your ecommerce brand can leave a memorable impression on your customers. However, if you simply focus on delivering your online orders to your customers, you cannot retain them for long. That's why it's essential to leave an everlasting impression on your customers.
Here are a few tips to get started with an ecommerce order fulfilment strategy with an experienced ecommerce fulfilment company in India like Eshopbox that can help you deliver your products on time and also improve customer satisfaction:
With proper inventory management, you can ensure that you never run out of inventory and have minimum inventory ready to be shipped. It means you don't have to lose out on potential sales. But for that, you need to maintain optimum inventory levels and restock your inventory in the fulfilment warehouse.
Moreover, during festive seasons or flash sales, it is essential to predict order volume or surge in advance and maintain the required inventory levels.
With an ecommerce fulfilment partner like Eshopbox, you get access to powerful technology and an actionable dashboard to analyse your sales data and forecast demand. You can then maintain optimum inventory levels in Eshopbox's fulfilment centres and establish re-order points for ordering inventory when inventory levels are diminishing. Thus, it will help you ensure timely inventory supply and prevent stockouts.
The best way to reduce shipping costs is to fulfil your online orders from multiple locations. So, if you want to make a huge investment in multiple fulfilment warehouses, you can partner up with an experienced ecommerce fulfilment company in India like Eshopbox.
This way, you can leverage Eshopbox's distributed network of fulfilment centres in India to split your inventory and place it closer to your customers across the country—helping you save significantly on shipping costs. Additionally, Eshopbox handles high order volumes and has strong tie-ups with ecommerce shipping providers. This means you get access to negotiated shipping rates, and you can reduce your shipping expenses further.
As stated above, you can gain a geographic footprint with multiple fulfilment warehouses in India to offer lightning-fast shipping to your customers by reducing the transit time drastically. Moreover, you can also adopt a suitable strategy to provide free shipping to your customers:
As an ecommerce brand, you can start by framing an ideal returns policy that makes returns easy for customers and builds customer loyalty. Most importantly, you need to optimise the entire returns process to create a hassle-free experience for your customers. So that your customers don't have to stress about anything.
An ecommerce fulfilment partner like Eshopbox can help you ensure a quick and easy process for initiating a return, aligning return shipping of the product, and conducting quality checks. So that you can process the refund quickly. Eshopbox can also help you restock the returned products in the available inventory and make them re-sellable. Apart from that, Eshopbox can help you turn refunds into exchanges with easy one-click exchanges.
You can ensure order accuracy in several ways to build customer trust, achieve higher customer retention.
With a tech-enabled fulfilment partner like eshopbox, you can incorporate smart automation in the ecommerce order fulfilment process. It will help you automate traditional warehouse operations with barcode scanners, conveyor belts, intelligent robots, and more to eliminate human errors. Additionally, Eshopbox can ensure appropriate and secure packaging to protect orders in transit. Moreover, Eshopbox can perform quality checks during order processing to ensure incorrect or damaged products are not shipped to the customer.
With a tech-enabled ecommerce fulfilment partner like Eshopbox, you can enhance the customer experience by delivering an exceptional post-purchase experience.
An ecommerce order fulfilment process can either make or break your online business. Having a sound strategy in place can help you succeed in the ever-growing and competitive ecommerce landscape. By considering the unique requirements of your ecommerce brand, you can choose a competent ecommerce fulfilment partner that can help you rise above ecommerce fulfilment challenges and drive significant growth.