The term “order fulfillment” covers a wide range of services your business could benefit from. Every step involved with receiving, processing, or delivering an order can be called order fulfillment. Some steps must be adjusted to fit the specific needs of the client or customer receiving the order, but most of them remain the same across the board. Here we will explore what order fulfillment looks like from start to finish so you can get a better understanding of this process.
The first step in order fulfillment is receiving the product. This usually happens at a warehouse or distribution center, though it may also happen directly in a store or a person’s home (like with small internet businesses). At this time, the warehouse agent or receiver will look over the inventory for damage, count and assess the products to ensure they match the order, apply bar codes and other identification tools to track the items in the inventory management system (IMS), register the existing identification data, and more. If you are relying a third party provider like Overflo to handle your order fulfillment, you should be able to review the receiving data your side of the IMS.
Once the items have been checked in at a warehouse, they are put into storage so they can be pulled later on. Each warehouse handles this process a little differently, but the overall goal is to put the items where they will be easy to find and access when they have to be shipped out. The labels installed in the receiving step will be used to keep track of the item’s location within the warehouse. If the item gets moved over time due to adjustments in the building, the new location will be recorded and updated in the IMS.
Order processing is the step that most people think of when they imagine order fulfillment. This is the time that the product goes from sitting the shelf to actively getting sent out to the buyer. Order processing requires several steps its own, including:
- Getting notification of the incoming order
- Picking out the items that are needed for the order based their location information
- Packing the items safely in a box to send out to the customer
- Adding appropriate shipping labels to track the progress of the package and ensure it arrives at the proper destination
- Sending the package out with the shipper to be delivered to the customer
The timeframe for this process will depend the types of items you are sending out and how frequently they are ordered/delivered. We can provide you with a time estimate during your order fulfillment consultation so you can relay that information to your customers.
Shipping may be considered part of order processing, but sometimes it acts as its own step. This is especially true for international shipments that must be processed through customs and special carriers. Your distribution center will let you know what is required for each shipment, including the costs of various services. You will be able to track the progress of the shipment through the inventory management system and watch for any delays that may arise.
In the event that a customer needs to make a return, he or she can do so through the warehouse’s order fulfillment program. You do not have to worry about handling that through your company. We have several returns processes in place that customers can use to get their products back to the warehouse and get reimbursed for their loss. If you would like to charge a restocking fee or return fee, we can discuss those options with you when setting up your contract. From start to finish, our job is to keep your customers satisfied and your orders protected. We will do just that with our order fulfillment services.
If you want to learn more about order fulfillment and how we can save you money, contact Overflo at 1-800-626-0616 to speak with one of our friendly representatives.