A neatly distributed flowchart that works with clockwork precision is the perception most people have about order processing. In fact, some even confuse it with the next leg of order fulfillment.
In theory and reality, order processing is the flow of activities that begins from picking a product and packing it before handing it over to the logistics player for delivery. It’s one of the big cogs in the massive eCommerce machine and making sure the process functions efficiently is an on-going challenge. Here are five areas to consider for improved order processing:
In the age of omnichannel commerce, customers can choose from multiple shopping modes such as online, offline or a mix of both. As a retailer you might even have to set up shop and showcase your products on third party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, etc.
Running your own online store is one thing while having a virtual storefront in a third party marketplace is another. They are as distinct as oil and water – yet a smooth integration between your primary sales channels and online marketplaces is crucial for keeping your finger on the pulse of your business.
This calls for marketplace integrations. Marketplace integrations help integrate your store backend safely with the third party marketplace, thereby preventing slips in order processing which could lead to customer disputes and providing you with a holistic view of your orders from all channels.
Now that you are in sync with your third party marketplace partners, there is another critical element of eCommerce that you have to bring in sync which is inventory management. You need to know real-time pulse of your stock levels, procurement orders in the pipeline and warehouse space available to benchmark your order processing efficiency.
Without proper inventory management, your warehouse personnel will not be able to pick up the right product at the right time. Over stocking and stock out situations are likely occurrences if your business intelligence is not armed with data from a real-time inventory management system.
Picking and packing may be routine order processing activities, but they shouldn’t be under estimated in terms of importance. Picking the right SKU from a warehouse the size of several football stadiums can be challenging, even with the best systems in place which is why an ergonomic warehouse planogram can be invaluable.
Your warehouse should be split into several zones each having storage for goods of specific category, movement type, shelf life, etc. For example, storing fast moving products or promotional products close to the loading dock will increase productivity by cutting travel time. If there are small and like-sized goods (like books) that are ordered frequently and in large numbers, store them across the warehouse so that all the warehouse personnel can reach and pick them easily.
Part of the order processing plan is bringing your product toward the carrier’s truck or plane or even a drone! That calls for extensive planning of your shipping modes, their delivery lead times and average capacity per shipment.
No amount of foresight is going to help plan for logistics perfectly. You need the data-based support of a shipping system or an ERP system that can help in route planning and supply chain management.
The last leg of order processing which puts the product in the hands of a customer is very crucial. It is during shipping and transit that products get damaged or lost. Having transparent visibility of the shipping process throughout its journey can help ease that worry of lost/damaged products.
Also, customers want to know how long it will take for their orders to arrive. Scheduled deliveries, on-demand deliveries, same-day deliveries all have become vogue for the same reason. Tracking your shipment on its every mile can help appease you anxious customers. An automated shipping tracking system can help achieve that without letting you break into a sweat.
Simplifying order processing isn’t easy – but it is possible. Begin with streamlining the most important part of your business that sources and compiles orders from various corners of the eCommerce chain. Next, adopt a process whereby the inventory can be easily mapped to the order requirements. This will facilitate quick picking, packing and shipping of the products.
Make sure your warehouse planogram is well thought out. It will help the warehouse personnel to move swiftly and pick/pack the right merchandise with higher accuracy. Finally, invest in a good shipment tracking system for your and your customers’ peace-of-mind.
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