Some wholesalers consider order fulfillment to be the largest operational priority in their business. For others, it’s considered just one step in a more significant sales process. What is clear is that an accurate and efficient order fulfillment process is essential for providing excellent customer service and maintaining profit margins.
Order fulfillment encompasses everything that happens from when you receive an order to when your customer receives the products they request. It’s not surprising that there are many logistics to manage and many challenges that wholesalers face through the order fulfillment lifecycle. All of these stem from inventory management and transparency.
Common order fulfillment challenges include:
- Inventory level accuracy
- Demand forecasting
- Space allocation
- Inventory transparency for sales teams and customers
- Order entry accuracy
Improving Wholesale Order Fulfillment
There may be ways in which your business could benefit from some added operational efficiencies through the order fulfillment process. Here are a few key areas that can be improved to increase order fulfillment efficiency, accuracy, and customer service.
1. Improving Inventory Management
Inventory management is an essential ingredient in providing accurate and efficient order fulfillment. Ensuring that you have the correct inventory levels to fulfill incoming orders should be priority one. Implementing an inventory management technology that works for your specific operational needs will improve efficiency while aligning with demand forecasting and level accuracy.
2. Automate Processes
To efficiently fulfill all customer orders, your internal inventory system should be integrated with your order management system. This step ensures that your inventory numbers update every time an order is placed. Integration is all about transferring information from one system to another, eliminating manual entry and reducing errors. Automation ensures that your inventory levels are always accurate.
3. Provide Inventory Transparency
When you have accurate inventory information, it is important to share that information across all your sales channels. This can be done by providing real-time inventory information to your customers through your wholesale online ordering and by providing your sales reps with mobile access to your catalog. Sharing accurate inventory information ensures that you are providing your customers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
4. Informed and Flexible Order Management
Once an order is placed, keeping your customers up to date throughout the order fulfillment process is just good service. This can be done by updating and sharing the order status throughout the process. Allowing your customers to quickly make a change to an order is also a crucial step in providing a high level of service. Open and honest order fulfillment removes any misinformation which improves accuracy and reduces returns.
Making sure you’re delivering in these four areas will ensure your order fulfillment is operating at its best.