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How Eshopbox Achieves Marketplace SLAs: A Conversation with Eshopbox’s VP Fulfilment Operations, Ashutosh Gaur
Order fulfilment

How Eshopbox Achieves Marketplace SLAs: A Conversation with Eshopbox’s VP Fulfilment Operations, Ashutosh Gaur

Alka Baranwal
November 15, 2023
9
mins read

Thriving on marketplaces like Amazon or Flipkart is a dream for every seller seeking brand success. However, navigating this competitive terrain poses challenges, and a significant aspect is the adherence to Service Level Agreements (SLAs). SLAs are contractual agreements between the marketplace and the seller that outline the expected level of service sellers must provide to customers.

Marketplace SLAs cover crucial aspects like order accuracy, timely shipping, and efficient returns, playing a pivotal role in shaping the customer experience. These standards are not just checkboxes; they are the pillars that uphold a seller's reputation and success in the marketplace. Meeting these SLAs is not just a compliance requirement; it's a strategic move to gain customer trust, maintain operational efficiency, and stay ahead in the competitive market.

In this blog, we explore how Eshopbox helps sellers not only meet but excel in fulfilling these SLAs. To gain insights into this crucial aspect, we sat down for a conversation with the VP Fulfilment Operations of Eshopbox, Ashutosh Gaur. Join us as we unravel the strategies Eshopbox employs to achieve marketplace SLAs, positioning e-commerce brands for growth and excellence.

Question: As the VP Fulfilment Operations of an e-commerce logistics company, could you shed light on the practical importance of meeting marketplace SLAs? Specifically, what repercussions can sellers face if they fail to meet these agreements?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Marketplace SLAs directly influence a seller's relationship with customers and the platform. Take, for instance, the commitment to timely and accurate deliveries. If a seller fails in this aspect, customers may experience delays or receive the wrong items, leading to dissatisfaction and potential loss of trust.

Moreover, mishandling returns can result in frustrated customers and negative reviews. The consequences extend beyond customer sentiment, as non-compliance often incurs penalties, affecting a seller's operational costs and overall profitability. Additionally, a dip in seller ratings due to SLA violations can significantly harm the visibility and competitiveness of the business within the marketplace, ultimately impacting sales and reputation. Therefore, meeting these SLAs is not just a contractual obligation but a critical factor in sustaining a positive business image and success within the marketplace.

Question: Eshopbox has established itself as a top-tier e-commerce service provider, seamlessly managing marketplace fulfilment for renowned brands for over a decade. How does Eshopbox achieve this feat while consistently meeting marketplace SLAs?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Ensuring adherence to marketplace SLAs is a cornerstone of our operations at Eshopbox. We've implemented rigorous Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each stage of the order fulfilment process, guaranteeing seamless and uninterrupted workflow.

Our proprietary Warehouse Management System (WMS) is at the heart of our operations. Unlike conventional WMS solutions, ours is uniquely tailored to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and overall productivity in warehouse operations so we can regularly meet all the SLAs.

To further emphasize our commitment to precision, we proactively capture the Ready to Ship time from the marketplace and align our operations and resources accordingly. This strategic planning ensures that our picking and packing processes are completed well before the designated Ready to Ship time, consistently meeting or even exceeding the set timelines.

Moreover, our WMS includes sophisticated reporting tools that provide insights into warehouse performance, order fulfilment metrics, and overall operational efficiency. This helps in identifying areas for improvement and optimizing processes.

Additionally, it's worth noting that Eshopbox maintains high ratings as a seller on various marketplaces, including Amazon and Flipkart. Many of our clients seek our seller-of-record services to enhance their brand standing on these platforms—a testament to the trust and reliability we bring to the table.

Question: But how do you make sure that the SLAs are consistently met? Do you actively monitor any specific metrics?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Absolutely! Meeting marketplace service level agreements (SLAs) is a meticulous process at Eshopbox, and we achieve this by closely monitoring key metrics through our advanced WMS software. One crucial metric in our arsenal is the on-time Ready-to-Ship (RTS) %. This metric gauges our efficiency in packing orders and ensuring they are ready to ship within the designated timeframe. Timely packing is paramount, as any delays beyond the marketplace's cut-off time can result in late deliveries and SLA violations.

Once orders are packed, it's imperative to seamlessly hand them over for shipment. In case a shipment fails to hand over for any reason, a pickup reattempt is scheduled. We vigilantly monitor the pickup reattempt rate, consistently striving to keep it low to maintain positive seller ratings.

Seller cancellations pose another challenge that can breach marketplace SLAs. They may occur for various reasons, such as items being out of stock and quality concerns. A high seller cancellation rate can adversely impact the seller’s rating on marketplaces. Therefore, Eshopbox rigorously tracks the seller cancellation rate, employing streamlined inventory management to minimize cancellations and uphold a stellar seller rating.

The fourth metric on our radar is the order processing defect rate, measuring the frequency of defects or inaccuracies during order processing. This encompasses issues such as packaging the wrong item, mis-shipments, and shipping products of poor quality. By meticulously tracking these metrics, we not only ensure compliance with SLAs but also continually enhance our operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Question: Can you elaborate on exactly how Eshopbox helps in maximising the on-time ready-to-ship (RTS) percentage?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Optimizing the on-time Ready-to-Ship (RTS) percentage hinges on minimizing the time it takes to prepare orders for shipment. At Eshopbox, we initiate this process by capturing the Expected Ready-to-Ship (RTS) time from the marketplace and making it visible to warehouse workers through our software. This allows the picking and packing process to be conducted with the expected RTS in mind.

Expected RTS is shown in the Eshopbox workspace

Upon receiving an order, our system automatically generates pick lists, assigning them to designated pickers. Each picker is responsible for gathering items from specific zones within the warehouse, with pick lists organized by zone for focused efficiency. Our system further enhances productivity by suggesting the most efficient route for item collection within each zone, sparing the picker from travelling unnecessarily and preserving precious time.

Our operations are entirely scan-based, ensuring accuracy and speed at every step. Each item is scanned during picking, when placed in the tote, and when the shipping label is generated. Such automations contribute to a fast and precise process. For multi-item shipments, we employ the concept of pigeon holes to facilitate efficient and accurate packing.

Throughout the process, dedicated supervisors who are well-trained and equipped oversee each stage. Our system is designed to be blue-collar friendly, alleviating the need for workers to plan or organize workflows—our system handles it seamlessly. The step-by-step guided workflow minimizes the chances of errors, enabling workers to perform their duties easily and efficiently.

This comprehensive approach significantly increases the efficiency of the picking and packing process, ensuring orders are ready to ship well before the Expected RTS time. Post-packing, we also prioritize the timely handover of orders to our shipping partners.

Industry norm for RTS breach

RTS Breach Rate for FY 23 from Eshopbox FCs

Question: What happens if the order is not handed over on time?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

If, for any reason, an order is not handed over on time, the marketplace schedules a pickup reattempt for the next day. This occurrence constitutes an SLA breach, potentially impacting the seller’s rating on the marketplace. Hence, at Eshopbox, we closely monitor a crucial metric called the pickup reattempt rate, ensuring its maintenance at the lowest possible level.

To achieve this, we proactively capture the ‘Expected handover by’ time and align our operations to have orders ready for shipment before that specified time. Post-packaging, all orders are placed in the manifest staging area, and the tracking ID of each item (shipping label) is scanned. This meticulous process enables our system to segregate orders based on handover time and shipping partner.

The expected handover time is shown on the Eshopbox workspace

Accompanying each shipment is a manifest paper containing specific shipment details. If, by the expected handover time, a signed copy of this paper is not uploaded to our system, our control tower team receives an immediate alert. They promptly intervene, investigating and resolving the issue to ensure a seamless handover process.

Handover breach rate for FY 23

Question: You mentioned another metric, seller cancellation rate. How do you ensure that this type of cancellation remains as low as possible?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Seller cancellations, constituting a part of marketplace SLA breaches, are diligently avoided at Eshopbox. Whether it's due to 'item out of stock' or 'item not found,' Eshopbox has implemented robust automation in the workflow to significantly reduce the chances of human error and, consequently, minimize the seller cancellation rate.

Central to our strategy is accurate inventory management, starting with a streamlined inward process in Eshopbox fulfilment. We meticulously scan each item, conduct a thorough quality check (QC), scan the tote, place the item in the tote, transport it to the designated storage area, scan the shelf, and then securely store it. This meticulous process ensures precise verification and storage of items.

Our software is in real-time sync with the marketplace. If an item goes out of stock, it promptly reflects as out of stock on the marketplace, and our system prevents the acceptance of orders for unfulfillable items. Additionally, regular cycle counts in our inventory audits verify the storage location and condition of each item, ensuring items are in the right place and in the right condition.

Despite these precautions, if a seller cancellation occurs, our control tower team conducts a thorough investigation to identify the root cause and implements corrective measures. This proactive approach ensures continuous improvement, minimizing the likelihood of future seller cancellations.

Question: Sometimes, the wrong product might get packed, mis-shipment can happen, or there might be quality issues with the product. All these can lead to a breach of marketplace SLAs. How do you tackle such situations?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

All the scenarios you mentioned, including mis-shipments, quality issues, packing the wrong product, or not following packaging instructions, fall under the category of order processing defects. To maintain a minimal order processing defect rate and prevent any violation of marketplace SLAs, we have established comprehensive SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for every step in the fulfilment process, covering inwarding, put-away, picking, and packing.

Let’s address each concern you mentioned one by one.  First of all, our warehouse processes are entirely 100% scan-based, ensuring utmost picking accuracy. Prior to picking, the picker scans the shelf, the item, and then the tote, eliminating any chances of human error.

Moving to the packing stage, our WMS provides step-by-step guided instructions, enabling blue-collar workers to execute each task smoothly and efficiently. For instance, when handling fragile products with special packing instructions, our system promptly highlights each instruction for the warehouse staff, seeking confirmation on each detail through our scan-based system. The system won't consider the order packed until the staff confirms adherence to each instruction. In fact, for any process, the staff cannot proceed to the next step without confirming to the system that the previous step has been completed.

Additionally, when printing shipping labels, our system introduces an extra confirmation step. After the initial label is printed, the system requests confirmation before producing a second shipping label. This stringent process eliminates the possibility of shipping label swaps, thereby reducing the risk of order defects due to mis-shipments.

Another potential order defect scenario is items exceeding their expiration dates. To address this, we strictly adhere to the "First Expiry First-Out" rule, prioritizing the shipping of items closest to their stop-ship date. If any item surpasses its stop-ship date, we mark it as non-sellable.

With these meticulous procedures in place, we proactively mitigate the risk of order defects, ensuring a streamlined and error-free fulfilment process.

Question: Marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart witness a surge in orders during promotional events such as Big Billion Days or The Great Indian Festival, where heavy discounts are offered. How does Eshopbox plan for and manage the increased demand during these seasonal peaks?

VP Fulfilment Operations:

Managing increased demand during seasonal peaks, such as Big Billion Days or The Great Indian Festival, involves a comprehensive strategy at Eshopbox.

Firstly, regarding forecasting and inventory planning, we work closely with our brand partners to anticipate the surge in demand. This collaboration allows us to forecast trends and strategically maintain additional stock for high-performing products. This proactive approach ensures that our inventory is well-prepared to meet the heightened order volume.

Secondly, to address the surge in orders and high transactions, our technology is optimized for scalability. We ensure that our platform is robust enough to handle the increased load during peak periods. This scalable infrastructure guarantees a responsive and efficient order processing system, maintaining a seamless experience for our clients.

In terms of workforce planning, we implement agile strategies to cater to the dynamic demands of seasonal peaks. This includes the introduction of rotational shifts and, if necessary, night shifts to accommodate the increased workload. Our flexible workforce planning ensures that we have the right personnel at the right time, contributing to the smooth flow of operations.

Lastly, our emergency response teams play a crucial role. We have dedicated teams in place to address any unforeseen challenges that may arise during peak seasons. These teams are equipped to handle emergencies, troubleshoot issues, and ensure continuous operations, providing an added layer of resilience to our fulfilment process and SLA compliance.

This holistic approach, encompassing forecasting, scalable technology, flexible workforce planning, and emergency response teams, positions Eshopbox to excel during seasonal peaks, delivering a seamless and efficient fulfilment experience for our clients.

Conclusion

Adhering to marketplace SLAs isn't just a compliance requirement; it's a key to success. At Eshopbox, we embrace a proactive and efficient operational approach, leveraging automation to minimize the risk of human error and SLA breaches.

Our unwavering commitment to logistics excellence at Eshopbox guarantees on-time deliveries, meticulous order fulfilment, and, ultimately, delighted customers. This commitment paves the way for establishing a thriving and trusted brand presence in any marketplace.

Connect with our fulfilment expert today.

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