Ecommerce Fulfilment Services

7 Common Mistakes In Order Fulfilment And How To Avoid Them

A woman order processing and packing a shipment. She is making many of the 7 common order fulfilment mistakes in eCommerce order fulfilment.
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There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when things are falling apart around you, whether that’s late shipments, shipping costs costing a fortune, or customers firing their frustrations at you because they can’t work out when their order will arrive.

Make those worries a thing of the past. Our team of fulfilment experts have compiled their list of 7 common order fulfilment mistakes and, importantly, how you can easily avoid them, putting your business on the path to success.

1. Don’t Underestimate the Damage of Poor Inventory Management

A common mistake many business owners make is not keeping their inventory tidy. A well-organised inventory system is essential because it helps you process customer orders quickly and accurately.

Picture the scene:  you’re a customer waiting until payday to buy a particular item for a gift. You spend ages researching the product and where to buy it from. You’re chuffed to finally be able to purchase it, only to receive an email later saying that the item is out of stock and will be shipped later than expected. You are frustrated that the gift will be late, and you make a complaint on your social media about it.

A scenario like this is all too common when an eCommerce business neglects its stock control process. It leads to a poor customer experience and negative reviews, which then impact the reputation of your business.

How To Avoid Poor Inventory Management

  • Implement a simple Inventory Management System: Set up an efficient system that enhances customer satisfaction and streamlines processes.
  • Display stock levels on your website: Let customers see if items are available or running low.
  • Conduct regular stock audits: Check and categorise stock regularly to smooth out order processing.

2. Forget Manual Order Management and Invest in Order Management Software.

Many small businesses try to save money by cutting corners on their order management software, or even worse – they do manual in-house order management. This might seem cost-effective but often leads to costly errors in order fulfilment. An unreliable order management system could mean orders could be missed, go unfulfilled, be inaccurate or take longer to ship than advertised.

The more manual the process, the more overwhelming it can be, and the more likely it is for human error. When orders pile up, and you’re scrambling to manage them by hand, simple mistakes such as typos can result in packing the wrong items or sending shipments to the wrong places. This can lead to unhappy customers and cost you money over time.

How to Avoid Order Processing Mistakes

  • Invest in compatible fulfilment software: Choose software that works well with other systems, such as CRM and accounting tools.
  • Use an Integrated Order Management System: Ensure it syncs with your warehouse management systems for seamless operations.
  • Implement simple tracking tools: Use barcode scanners to monitor an order’s journey through the supply chain.
  • Benefit from integrated data: Access and analyse data on sales, orders, and inventory to refine processes.

This integration streamlines fulfilment for efficiency and cost savings and reduces room for errors.

3. Failing to Plan for Peak Seasons Can Derail Your eCommerce Logistics

Peak seasons can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared. Imagine you’re suddenly flooded with orders. While this surge boosts your revenue, it can strain your current fulfilment systems. This often results in delays and unhappy customers.

How to Avoid Peak Season Fulfilment Mistakes

  1. Analyse past sales data: Look back at your sales records and identify when you had spikes in orders in the past. Demand forecasting will help your stock and resourcing.
  1. Stay informed about market trends: Keep up to date with market trends to stay ahead of demand spikes. Understanding what drives your market enables better preparation.
  2. Plan your inventory: Stock up on popular items before the rush starts. Having enough stock on hand is key to meeting customer demand quickly.
  3. Hire temporary staff: Consider hiring extra hands during busy times. Temporary staff can help manage the increased workload without committing to permanent overheads.

By taking these steps, you can turn potential chaos into a smooth, profitable peak season.

If seasonal peak times are particularly challenging for your business, check out our ‘Managing Customer Expectations During Peak Shopping Season’ guide for more strategies to prepare and exceed customer expectations.

4. Neglecting Shipping Options and Costs Is A Big Mistake

Choosing the wrong shipping options can mean steep costs and slow deliveries, things no customer likes. This oversight can turn an otherwise satisfied customer into a frustrated one.

How to Avoid Shipping Costs and Shipment Nightmares

  1. Offer varied shipping options: Provide a range of shipping options to suit different needs and budgets. This flexibility lets customers choose what works best for them. Some customers prefer free shipping with a longer delivery time, whereas others happily pay for a faster service or even same-day delivery.
  2. Negotiate with third-party carriers: Talk to several carriers for the best rates. Don’t settle for the first offer. Frequent negotiations can lead to better shipping costs as your business grows.
  3. Monitor market rates: At Delta Fulfilment, we work with a variety of couriers to ensure we get the best possible price for our ecommerce fulfilment services. This awareness helps you snag better deals, cutting costs and potentially speeding up delivery.
  4. Be transparent: Always be clear with your customers about how long deliveries will take and what they will cost. This transparency helps manage expectations and reduces dissatisfaction.

Addressing these elements ensures that your shipping practices enhance customer satisfaction and support your business’s efficiency.

5. Overlooking Returns and Reverse Logistics Processes

A tricky or vague returns process might stop customers from coming back. When returns are a hassle, customer trust wanes, and they might choose not to shop with you again.

How to Avoid Returns and Reverse Logistics Errors:

  1. Make a clear returns policy: Write a simple, easy-to-understand returns policy that is visible on your site.
  2. Easy access and understanding: Keep your policy straightforward and use to-the-point, plain language.
  3. Provide detailed instructions: Offer step-by-step guidance for returning products. Include information on where to send returns, the conditions for acceptance, and the estimated time for processing refunds.
  4. Offer support: Have a dedicated help section or customer service team ready to assist with returns. This support can ease the process, making it less confusing for customers.
  5. Integrate Reverse Logistics: Streamline your returns process, use order management software to track returns and manage inventory efficiently. Optimise your warehouse layouts to support quick and effective processing of returns, minimising space and time constraints. These steps will enhance operational efficiency, help reduce costs and minimise environmental impact.

By simplifying your returns process, you not only build trust but also create the chance to turn a return into a positive experience that could bring customers back.

6. Inadequate Packing Is A Costly Error

Poor packaging often results in damaged goods. If a product arrives broken, a bad review is likely to follow.

How to Avoid Packaging Disasters

  1. Choose strong materials: Use robust packaging that protects against bumps and drops. Quality materials prevent breakages.
  2. Consider size and shape: Match the packaging to the size and shape of your products. This prevents items from moving around during transit.
  3. Add protective layers: Use bubble wrap, foam, or padded inserts. These layers cushion your products, further reducing the risk of damage.
  4. Seal properly: Ensure boxes are securely taped. Proper sealing keeps the package intact and the contents secure inside.
  5. Label as fragile: If items are delicate, clearly mark the package as fragile. This encourages handlers to be more careful.

Improving your packaging keeps your products safe, leading to happy customers and positive reviews.

7. Not Using Data to Improve Shipping, Order Processing And Your eCommerce Platform

If you’re not using data from your fulfilment operations, you’re missing out on some great chances to get better. Every slip-up is a valuable chance to enhance your operations.

How to Avoid Inefficient Use Of Your eCommerce Platform And Fulfilment Processes

  1. Ecommerce Analysis: Make it a habit to regularly look at your shipping times, how quickly items are flying off the shelves, and how happy your customers are.
  2. Spot patterns: Dive into your data to see what’s working and what isn’t. Spotting these trends opens your eyes to potential improvements.
  3. Make smart changes: Use what you learn from the data to make informed tweaks to your operations. It’s all about making things smoother, step by step.

By monitoring your data, you can keep improving, making your business more efficient and your customers even happier.

Dodge eCommerce Fulfilment Mistakes With Our Order Fulfilment Services

Now you’ve reached the end of this guide, you can build a robust order fulfilment system by steering clear of these 7 common mistakes. Taking time out to consider your processes will be beneficial –  every part of your order fulfilment process can be optimised for better performance. As your business grows, keep adapting and improving to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Not ready to go it alone? Choose Delta Fulfilment as your fulfilment partner, and we’ll ensure that these mistakes are all a thing of your past. We’re committed to providing your customers with the first-class service that they deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can be the perfect solution for your fulfilment needs.

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