A Brief Guide To Ace Order Fulfillment For Your E-Commerce Business
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Since the early half of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown(s) have been acting as catalysts for the growth of the Indian e-commerce sector, despite initial disruptions. According to a report released by IBEF, India’s e-commerce sector is rising at a CAGR of 27 per cent and is likely to reach $99 billion by 2024 compared to $30 billion in 2019. The same report also stated that groceries, fashion and apparel are going to be the crucial drivers of this incremental growth.
When it comes to e-commerce companies, order fulfillment is integral. This fulfillment process includes functions such as preparing orders, packaging, shipping and delivering them to the customer’s doorstep. Clearly, one can map the trend here: streamlining the logistics process will ensure the smooth delivery of products to buyers.
The Order Fulfillment Process
Ideally, an order fulfillment process involves the following steps:
Receiving inventory: Inventory in e-commerce companies is handled in two ways. As a seller, one can either receive and stock the inventory in a warehouse or can decide to outsource the entire process to a third-party order fulfillment company. If you decide to outsource the process, it is that 3PL provider that stocks and performs the rest of the steps. For doing it in-house, all the activities are managed by the seller.
Inventory storage: If a seller decides to warehouse the inventory himself, all the steps, in this case, are performed by the seller. From placing the inventory on the shelf to keeping a record of where the products are coming from and where they are being shipped, the end-to-end process is managed by the seller.
Processing and shipping the order: In case a seller outsources the fulfillment process, everything about order processing and shipping is managed by the third-party company. However, if a company decides to warehouse the products internally, processes such as inventory management, picking of the order, inspection, packaging and labeling are then taken care of by the seller.
Handing return requests: One of the most significant reasons why e-commerce is gaining rapid traction is the fact that it is convenient for buyers to return the products in case of any complaints, although sellers prefer to steer clear of such scenarios. However, a structured and easy-to-avail return policy is instrumental to have a smooth replacing and refunding experience. Automation of the steps in the refund process is necessary to avoid errors.
Order Fulfilment Trends to Boost Your E-Commerce Business
Third-party logistics fulfillment: Most sellers can’t afford to invest in dedicated warehousing infrastructure to meet their order fulfillment demand. This is where a third-party fulfillment service provider comes into the frame. They are responsible for managing all the fulfillment operations starting from inventory management to final shipment and delivery of the products. As an e-commerce seller, you can easily reach out to these establishments for outsourcing inventory and order management.
Technology integration: Integration of advanced technology in fulfillment centers is an emerging trend in the e-commerce, warehousing and logistics industry. Integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the order fulfillment processes is taking place at a fast pace. As per Gartner’s 2019 reports, 37 per cent of the organizations have already implemented AI and ML and the numbers are expected to grow further in the future. Automation helps in expediting the process, collecting real-time data, and synchronize the entire order fulfillment process.
IoT: The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is undoubtedly helping in strengthening the logistics process of e-commerce businesses. An increased flow of relevant data is being used to develop insights and to implement IoT technologies for both monitoring inventories and fulfilling orders. Big Data technologies are being used to centralize the order fulfillment process and for automation operations to avoid any fuss in order shipment and delivery.
Managing inventory and fulfilling orders successfully plays a vital role in the growth of any e-commerce business. With the help of proper warehousing and a smooth, seamless order fulfillment process, it is possible to manage orders efficiently. However, there are certain trends that organizations can follow to ace up their order fulfillment game. For instance, integration of AI and ML for cutting on human intervention when it comes to managing inventory and order delivery, can help in managing the entire process efficiently and without any glitch. All in all, having impeccable order fulfillment can be a game-changer, as it has the potential to take your business to a whole new level and give you a competitive edge over other players in the market.