Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, in-house fulfillment mistakes can happen. With the many moving parts that go into storing, packaging and shipping products to your customers, these processes offer plenty of room for error. While most orders ship out correctly, the ones that are delayed or even incorrect can have a major impact on your revenue and brand image, even if it something out of your control. From a traditional warehouse setting to e-commerce fulfillment services, the following mistakes can happen for a number of reasons. The key is knowing how to avoid them and keep your business running smoothly.
Late or Delayed Shipments
Any time a customer does not receive their package at the time they expect, it can cause issues within your organization. An unhappy buyer often results in refunds and dealing with bad reviews that damage your brand’s image. There are several causes for late or delayed shipments, with the most common being due to fluctuations in the demand for your products. When sales spikes occur unexpectedly, in-house fulfillment mistakes can add up quickly. For companies dealing with only a few orders to fill each day, a smaller workforce typically has no problem keeping up with them. However, if your marketing efforts suddenly start making the orders come in fast, that small workforce simply cannot keep up with the demand. When this happens, the emails flow in from dissatisfied customers and you have to start issuing refunds for cancelled orders and expedited shipments that don’t arrive on time. Add in the negative reviews that are sure to happen, and you can see how late and delayed shipments quickly overwhelm businesses of all sizes.
Even if shipments go out late due to supplier issues, those still come back on your company. Customers expect your business to have the products you advertise, regardless of who produces them. Keeping in close contact with your suppliers helps you better meet the needs of your customers, especially during peak seasons. Verifying that suppliers maintain adequate stock helps ensure you have access to the most popular products you sell. If supplies are low for a particular item going into high-demand times, it may be a good idea to remove those products from your listings to avoid these e-commerce fulfillment mistakes so they do not negatively affect your brand.
Improper Inventory Management
Some in-house fulfillment mistakes occur as a result of poor inventory management. For some, this issue may arise because of availability not matching what is in the system. For others, receiving may get clogged due to handling outbound orders. This results in the system showing that items are available, but pullers are unable to find the product on the shelves. When new inventory is not placed in the system in a timely manner, those pallets sit there and take up valuable space. Additionally, if workers cannot find the product, it results in longer pull times, which could delay shipments. For smaller companies and e-commerce fulfillment services, employees may have to decide whether to place receivables into the system or focus on the shipments that need to go out that day. Either decision could result in delayed shipments because the items are not available on the shelves or there simply is not enough time to accomplish both.
Employee turnover rates are a fact of doing business, and it can affect your company’s ability to handle orders properly. When employees quit or you have to hire a larger workforce for peak seasons, that training time frequently eats into your staff’s abilities to handle daily operations. This can compound in-house fulfillment mistakes because there are not enough employees available to handle picking, packing and shipping. Even with dedicated workers in each of these areas, hiring and training drains your available resources, and that could even be the time you would normally spend overseeing warehouse processes. This is one area where considering your options for in-house fulfillment optimization could have a major impact. From utilizing outsourced staffing to working with third-party logistics (3PL) companies, both possibilities help your staff meet the needs of your customers.
Product Detail Errors
Another common in-house fulfillment mistake is providing inaccurate product descriptions. Customers expect their items to be as described, and if your information is incorrect, it becomes frustrating for both buyers and your employees. Providing accurate information lessens the chances of unhappy customers, so it is important to make sure all of the information your provide is correct. This includes:
- Verifying product specifications, descriptions and pricing
- Clearly showing package size and weight
- Defining accurate delivery times
- Listing all applicable shipping and handling fees
When customers know exactly what they are purchasing, they have accurate expectations of the products they receive. This means you can spend more time focusing on in-house fulfillment optimization and less on fielding calls and emails concerning items that are not described correctly.
A Lack of Experience or Expertise
Whether you are a new business starting out or your company lacks someone with proper inventory management expertise, both of these can result in in-house fulfillment mistakes. The entire process of fulfillment requires knowledge in storing, replenishment, picking, packing and shipping processes. For many businesses, the person responsible for these aspects wears many other different hats, and that can lead to issues with completing all tasks on time. Having an employee that solely focuses on overseeing order fulfillment increases the chances of success for your brand, but this can be difficult to achieve. If you cannot find someone with the needed experience, it may be time to consider e-commerce fulfillment services that take over those responsibilities and free up your warehouse leaders for more important tasks.
Do your pickers spend a lot of time revisiting the same areas in your warehouse? Are items stored wherever they fit rather than for accessibility? If so, warehouse optimization could provide serious benefits in shipping orders on time. The more time your workers have to spend looking for items, the longer each shipment takes to process. Inventory control measures that include an accurate count of products available is only one part of the process. Making sure your warehouse works well for sequential picking speeds up the time it takes for each order. If you have enough staff and time to reorganize your warehouse and optimize these processes, you will experience fewer in-house fulfillment mistakes. However, working with a logistics company gives you access to expertise, experience and software that makes optimization quicker and easier for your business.
In-House Fulfillment Optimization
If you are finding that the above issues are affecting your business, optimizing your in-house fulfillment processes will make a serious impact on your brand. Working with a 3PL that understands your needs and has the experience necessary to address these and other common mistakes can be the difference in your overall success. From streamlining inventory management to ensuring proper labeling and shipping times, logistics companies give you the room you need for your brand to thrive. When you minimize errors in order fulfillment, you exceed customer expectations and boost revenue through both normal and peak-season sales.