An order fulfillment or order management system involves every step taken by a business or organization, from receiving an order to delivering it to the final customer. This is the most fundamental way that each organization responds to and ultimately fills an order.

What is an order processing system?

An order processing system captures all the critical data concerning the customer and their order. There are two types of order processing systems:

Traditional processing systems: by traditional, we mean manual systems dealing with handwritten documents and manual filing systems. Orders are written in a log, sent to the person responsible for filling it. Then, several copies are sent over to the delivery person who delivers the order to the customer. One individual may fulfill one or all activities – in the case of a small company.

A modern order processing system – this system makes use of technology and the whole process starts with orders being placed online through a website. Various order fulfillment software is available for businesses to gather and record all the order data. Then, the order would be automatically updated and sent to the manufacturer or warehouse, where the packing and shipping will occur. Returns are also being handled through an online system that is specifically designed and developed for this purpose.

order fulfillment process

What are the most important steps in the order fulfillment process?

The order fulfillment process involves 6 essential steps, and they are:

Taking the order- you can take orders over the phone, in person, or through an online checkout process. Orders that are taken manually need to be uploaded correctly into an online system or forwarded to the correct department within the company for further processing.  This can be improved by using order fulfillment software.

Processing the order – After the orders are submitted, the process begins by printing out the picking and packing lists and giving them out to the packers. Order fulfillment software should make this task easy, as it should seamlessly integrate with the platforms from where the orders are from. Customers are often updated about the order status, which lets them see that their order has been placed and is getting processed. The updates will be provided periodically until the third-party delivery process offers them the best possible stress-free order fulfillment experience.

Picking the inventory – Once the pickers receive the lists of items that need to be gathered from the warehouse, they proceed with packing those into boxes (sometimes branded boxes). See why it is important to offer a unique unpacking experience to your customers in this article.

Preparing for shipping – The inventory preparation process includes weighing, packaging, and labeling the ordered items before commencing the actual shipping service. The type of product ordered and being shipped will dictate the whole process involved in preparing the package – whether if it’s a fragile item and needs extra protection like perishables, or more sturdy items like books or sandals.

Shipping the order – this process involves sending the order directly to the customer or distributing points along the way. This process is usually taken care of by the courier service, which has the right means of transporting the order- like food or flowers that need to be refrigerated or placed in a humidity-controlled environment. It is essential to send tracking information to the customers at this point because it keeps them informed about the order fulfillment process and delivery time.

Handling Returns – this only happens if the customer is not satisfied with their purchase or if they have ordered the wrong size when it comes to clothing. You will have to inspect the products for any damage. The customer should be kept informed throughout the process to ensure the best service. Your returns policies should be mentioned on your eCommerce website.

How can you improve your order fulfillment process?

Improving the order fulfillment process needs to have a well-thought-out strategy for your particular business requirements. When creating your order fulfillment strategy, you have to take into consideration the number of orders you are shipping out each month, tracking those orders, managing future inventory needs, and many other factors. Let’s have a look at how you can improve your order fulfillment process:

Better communication with customers – communicating with the customer throughout the process is essential. You should send emails or text messages informing them about the status of their order at all stages during the order fulfillment. You need to let your customer know that you care about their experience with their purchase, this ensures fewer returns and it increases the chance that the customer will show from you again.

Select the right shipping companies – Picking the right courier companies can be difficult. You will have to take in consideration the number of orders you have each month, what type of products are you selling, and where your customers are located. If you want to know more about how can you choose the right shipping company for your business, check out this article.

Using the right order management software – Having a software tool that helps you with order fulfillment is essential, especially if you have a large volume of incoming orders each day. Order management software can help automate various steps in the order fulfillment process, giving you fewer things to worry about. A seamless order management system can help reduce the number of frustrated customers and lost sales.

Final thoughts

Improving your order fulfillment process can help your business tackle current issues, and prepare it to handle future ones. Improving certain aspects of your business can take a lot of time, but having order management software that can be easily implemented in your current business model can save you from a lot of headaches.  JustShipIT is an order management software used by hundreds of businesses of all sizes, a cloud-based solution that can be accessed from any device, allowing users to always stay on top of their orders.  To find out more about our custom order management software, contact us now!