Chances are, your online sales have grown in the past few of months as shoppers continue to move away from the high street and turn increasingly to the internet for their purchases. However, with the unprecedented events over the last two months and the closure of non-essential retailers, many of the UK’s population are turning to shopping online for both their essential and non-essential purchases. This has left online retailers struggling to cope with the increase in order volume, and therefore order fulfilment.
What is Order Fulfilment?
Order fulfilment is the process of picking, packing and despatching of orders to the customer. However, it is not as simple as it sounds, especially if you have a high volume of orders and you don’t have the time – or staff – to fulfil those orders.
For companies that have a wide stock range, the ‘picking’ part of the process can be hampered if a robust stock control system is not put in place. The ‘packing’ also comes with some difficulties, especially when packing fragile products or those that should not be bent. Then there’s choosing the right courier who will look after your packages, ensuring that they get to your customer in the same condition as they left you.
How does order fulfilment work?
When an order is received, depending on your eCommerce software, a notification or despatch note will be generated. This enables the picking and packing operative to select the correct products and pack the goods safely and securely. The software updates the inventory with the new stock levels. Once all that day’s orders are packed, the courier service is contacted to collect the parcels for delivery.
The order fulfilment process – what are the steps?
There are many steps in the order fulfilment process which include, but are not limited to, depending on the business:
- Storage. Once received from the manufacturer, the products for sale are checked off against a despatch note and stored securely in a warehouse, storeroom or fulfilment centre if fulfilment is being outsourced. At this stage, each product is given a unique number (SKU) to keep track of the stock.
- Picking and Packing. On receipt of an order, pick and pack operatives will select the correct items from the warehouse/storeroom and pack them carefully.
- Despatch. Once all parcels have been packed, they are despatched to the customer using a courier service.
- Returned Goods. Any returns are processed on receipt, replacement items are sent out if required, and the stock inventory is updated.
Outsourcing your Order Fulfilment
For businesses where staffing is minimal, or for those businesses whose online orders have increased and are now unable to cope with the extra workload, outsourcing order fulfilment to a third- party fulfilment house can save time and money.
Third Party Logistics (3PL) companies will handle the entire order fulfilment process, from warehousing to despatching and everything in between.
How can outsourced order fulfilment help your business?
Order fulfilment can help businesses in many ways. These include:
- Reduce staffing costs. Outsourcing your order fulfilment means that you won’t need to hire and then train new members of staff as your business grows, or take on temporary staff for seasonal peaks and sales. It will also save you time and money dealing with all the PAYE and NIC implications.
- Reducing storage costs. As your business grows, so will your stock – from holding larger numbers of each item of stock to potentially expanding your stock range. Your chosen third- party fulfilment company will be able to house your stock in their warehouse.
- Freeing up your time to concentrate on other areas of your business. Time not spent packing orders is time you could spend on developing your business, sourcing new stock and marketing activities.
- Improved customer service. With a dedicated fulfilment operation, your customers will receive their goods on time and in excellent condition. The fulfilment company will ensure full order accuracy so that your customers will always receive the goods they ordered.
- Complete control over your inventory. With dedicated software that provides up-to-the-minute information on stock levels, you will have a complete picture of what stock is selling and what isn’t, enabling you to plan sales and promotions.
Your Order Fulfilment Specialist
For companies of any size looking for a third-party fulfilment service, Adstral can help. We will tailor our order fulfilment services to suit you. We can provide short-term order fulfilment cover for sales and seasonal peaks, or longer-term order fulfilment that can adapt as your company grows.
Who is Adstral?
Adstral is expert in delivering cost-effective, multi-channel, order fulfilment services for online retailers. Working with both trade and retail customers, we provide a high quality, reliable service with attention to detail and guaranteed order accuracy – regardless of the number of orders received.
We use our own 3PL order management software, which integrates directly with most eCommerce platforms and online sales channels. This enables us to pick, pack and despatch all orders received by 5pm on the same business day.
Why choose Adstral
We provide our customers with a bespoke order fulfilment service that’s not only tailored to meet the needs of their business, but can be adapted as the business grows. We don’t charge a set-up fee or management fee, and we offer a flexible fulfilment service which can be changed at any time.
Your goods will be stored safely and securely in our large warehouse facility where they will be allocated a SKU to ensure that we keep track of every item of stock we hold. All stock is stored so that our pick and pack operatives can easily access them ready for packing and despatch. Each order is packed with care and with full order accuracy.
We can also handle any returns, ensuring that the inventory is up-dated and your customer receives replacement goods, if required.
To get an idea of the monthly cost of order fulfilment for your business, we have developed a pricing calculator tool. Just enter a few details including average number of orders per month, average items per order and storage area requirements to get an estimated price.
If you would like to talk to a member of our team about your order fulfilment requirements, please call us on 01793 725043, or complete your details on our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.