How to excel at E-Commerce order fulfillment

by | Nov 21, 2019 | eCommerce, Omnichannel, Retailers

It’s no surprise that e-commerce order fulfillment is capturing headlines and mindshare. On-time shipments, BOPIS/BORIS options, and recognizable packaging can make or break a consumer’s shopping experience. If done right, they’ll return. If not, forget about a repeat purchase.

To create the optimal shopping experience, e-commerce retailers (and their drop-ship suppliers) have found that it all comes down to the three F’s:

  • Fast Delivery
  • Flexible Orders & Returns
  • Free Shipping

The secret to the success of each of these steps is automated trading partner relationships. Only when a retailer and a supplier (and their systems) work together can these processes can become deliver the speed and visibility necessary for e-commerce order fulfillment.

Fast: E-Commerce order delivery times get shorter

Speed is essential, but can you consistently deliver…especially with drop-ship orders that are out of your direct control?

The key is to automate your trading partner relationships. E-commerce orders should flow directly into an ERP, OMS or WMS solution so fulfillment can start the second it’s received, routing orders to the supplier for drop-ship fulfillment if necessary. Any stops along the way for keying in orders translate into delays that are no longer an option. Orders simply cannot sit on a desk for data entry at your site or your suppliers. Why does fast shipping matter? Does your customer really need their purchase tomorrow? It doesn’t matter, it is expected. And, if an e-commerce order is slow to reach its destination, delayed shipments can drastically influence a consumer’s decision to purchase from you again.

Flexible: order and return options required

Retailers are no longer an online store or a brick-and-mortar store. Shoppers think of you as one entity and want to interact with your website, stores and staff as a single brand. You no longer get to choose how a shopper can order and return their items, and if you make it difficult, they won’t be around for long.

BOPIS and BORIS are an important part of a retailer’s operations. BOPIS can influence repeat purchases just as much as free returns or exchanges. Shoppers are embracing this channel as a means to skip the line and save time. Not only does BOPIS make e-commerce orders easy and faster to pick up, but retailers are also finding that shoppers make additional purchases in-store when picking up an order. The same can likely be said of shoppers coming in-store for a return. If you aren’t offering this service today, you are missing sales opportunities.

The bottom line is that customers like choices. With automated trading partnerships, retailers can better manage inventory at all of their stores, DCs and suppliers. You can place items where they are most likely to be purchased and/or shipped for fast delivery.

Free: e-commerce order fulfillment at no cost to consumers

Lastly, shoppers do not want to pay for shipping. This continues to be one of the biggest turnoffs to online consumers who have grown accustomed to free shipping, thanks to Amazon Prime. Retailers and suppliers must streamline their operations to cut costs if they want to maintain their margins on e-commerce orders.

We’ve seen retailers and drop-ship suppliers tackle new efficiencies from a number of avenues:

  • Automate with EDI or APIs to improve trading partner compliance, thus avoiding any chargebacks or other fees
  • Integrate their orders with a shipping solution to make the picking, packing and labeling process faster and less error-prone
  • Receive inventory updates more often to ensure access to more items if sales take off. In the case of drop shipping, inventory details to ensure they can fulfill every SKU listed on the retailer’s website

All three foundations of digital order excellence rely on fulfillment and strong vendor partnerships. To learn how your omnichannel retail relationships can provide more profits and better customer service, visit our omnichannel retail page for more information.

Order fulfillment is more complex in an omnichannel environment.

Order fulfillment is more complex in an omnichannel environment.

Enlist the help of your trading partners to profitably satisfy today’s consumer. Download our white paper to help you strategize your action plan.

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SPS Commerce Blog Team

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