Order fulfillment services serves as the foundation of every e-commerce or internet business. It makes no difference how your marketing is if you can’t deliver the product to the consumer on time, cost-effectively. There are a lot of organizations that provide solutions to assist you in meeting your company’s particular order fulfillment strategy requirements.

Top Functions Of Order-Fulfillment: 

All supply chain functions involved in receiving, processing, and delivering client orders to their final destinations are included in the order fulfillment process. These operations are conducted at a fulfillment center near the shipment destination to achieve the quickest delivery time feasible.

The following are the primary functions of the order fulfillment process:

The order fulfillment process transfers commodities and resources from those who create them to those who desire them. It entails taking items manufactured by a company and delivering them straight to a consumer. These are referred to as “direct to consumer” (D2C) orders. In other circumstances, items or commodities are removed from a producer and handed to another firm. It is referred to as “business to business” or “B2B.”

Receiving Process: 

Items shipped to the fulfillment provider warehouse are offloaded and accounted for in five phases throughout the receiving process: counting; inspection for correctness; inspection for damage; SKU indexing; and SKU application.

Inventory Counting:

A receiving clerk counts the number of units delivered to check that the correct number has been received when a shipment arrives. If the number of units received does not match the quantity on the invoice, the products will be placed in inventory before the issue is resolved with the supplier in one of three methods.

  • An additional shipment may be requested if the number of units received falls short of the order or a discount is applied to a future order.
  • If the number of units received exceeds the number ordered, the fulfillment center may be required to pay for the surplus items or place a smaller order the next time.

Examine for Accuracy:

After each unit has been tallied, it will be verified to confirm that it contains the needed elements. If the fulfillment center receives the incorrect products, it will contact the supplier and seek a replacement. A discount is frequently offered to compensate for the trouble. 

Examine for Damage:

After the identification of every unit, there is an examination for damage.

If units are damaged on transit to the fulfillment center, a replacement order or discount request may be filed with the supplier.

Add Inventory Items:

Each product is allocated an SKU code and placed into the fulfillment center’s inventory program. An SKU (stock keeping unit) code is used to identify and monitor unique features of units, such as their manufacturer and price, throughout the fulfillment process.

Place SKUs:

Once the products have been put into the warehouse management software, a physical SKU label or barcode is placed on each unit; it is ready for storage.

Inventory Storage Procedures: 

The storage method entails strategically placing each item within the storage facility so that it may be recovered as fast and precisely as feasible. Individual SKUs are typically kept in separate storage bins so that a person does not have to spend extra time sorting through numerous goods to get the one they require. Surplus inventory is transported to different storage spaces when too many products are to fit in allotted containers. Containers are replaced from overflow storage as goods flow out.

Order Processing:

Order processing encompasses all of the steps that occur between the moment an online order is received and the time it is ready to ship. Integrating order fulfillment software with the company’s shopping cart is the most effective method to go about this procedure. By this, the fulfillment center receives the customer’s order as soon as it is placed, and the process of choosing and packaging the product can begin.

Picking: 

“Picking” refers to the part of the order fulfillment process in which employees physically retrieve items from bins and transport them to the packaging area. Depending on the size of the operation, the methods and technologies used to retrieve items from storage will vary greatly. In smaller warehouse operations, an employee will walk over to the proper container and choose the unit they want. Industrial-scale enterprises with large warehouses may necessitate the deployment of a qualified equipment operator and support crew to retrieve massive items piled meters high. Maintaining warehouse efficiency is critical so that pickers can locate and carry the essential materials to the packing area as fast as feasible.

Packing:

After order choosing, the packaging process begins. This stage of the order fulfillment process includes preparing the unit for shipment to its final destination. Packing personnel must account for items such as:

Fragility: 

Pack fragile products with insulating materials such as bubble wrap and foam packing peanuts to keep them safe during transit.

Weight: 

To minimize damage to the transport vehicle, other units in the same shipment, or the units themselves, heavy shipping orders may need to be cushioned or stacked on pallets.

Dimension: 

Units that lack a level bottom surface or have unusual dimensions must be packed to carry them without sliding or tipping over. 

For example: Packing products in boxes and stacking them on pallets to handle them properly during shipment. 

Risk of Damage: 

Items that represent a possible risk of damage because of their excessive size, weight, or chemical composition must be restrained and labeled to notify anybody handling them of the potential hazard.

Cost: 

Space is the most valuable commodity in transportation. Items that require more room to ship cost extra to ship. Consume less amount of space during packing to keep shipping costs low.

Items are chosen and efficiently packed before being dispatched to the shipping facility to be delivered.

Shipping Process:

Shipping managers will decide the most effective means of transferring each product to its final destination at the shipping facility. It may be as simple as calculating the stems and inserting them into outgoing mail for smaller online vendors.

Businesses who need to move large units, vast numbers, or things with unique handling needs, on the other hand, may need to use freight services or specialist couriers. It is up to shipping experts to figure out the most efficient and cost-effective way to get the job done.

Once things have been shipped out for delivery, the shipping center is responsible for informing customers and the order fulfillment software. Unless a unit must be returned, an order is deemed completed at this stage.

Return Processing:

While returned products are often forgotten as part of the fulfillment process, they are very much under the supervision of the fulfillment team. Internal returns processing resembles the fulfillment procedure described above. 

Returns to the fulfillment warehouse must be the following:

  • Counted
  • Checked for accuracy
  • Checked for damage
  • Re-entered the order fulfillment software
  • superseded into storage

It is also critical for online merchants to manage client expectations by developing an external returns policy and displaying it on their website for reference. Customers should be informed of where and how the ship returns and how. Other terms, such as refund and replacement policies, should be defined here.

Third Party Logistics (3PL):

Third-party logistics (3PL) organizations meet the demands of individuals who are unable or unwilling to manage significant or sophisticated order fulfillment needs. In addition to receiving, storing, processing, shipping, and returns, several 3PLs provide auxiliary services such as on-demand transportation and data analysis to arrange items and predict lead times.

Streamlining the order fulfillment process is an efficient approach to save time, improve customer happiness, and boost a company’s profitability. Small business owners may be able to afford the luxury of keeping these processes in-house while maintaining overall control over their order fulfillment systems. Larger enterprises may need to sacrifice some control over their order fulfillment solution and accept risks to fulfill orders.

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