Inventory Adventure Part 3: Making the Most of Fulfillment
We’ve covered intake, and we’ve tackled inventory management. What’s in store for Inventory Adventure round three, you ask? Why, fulfillment of course!
You’ve got to have a sound process for getting goods to customers, or you’ll find yourself in hot water in short order. Everybody has a fulfillment strategy, but there are some things you can do to make this process faster and more efficient, and at the end of the day, that’s what will matter to your customers. Taking the following factors into account will help you iron out any kinks in your fulfillment process.
But first, a definition.
In its most basic sense, order fulfillment is the transaction’s journey, from the initial sale to the delivery of the product to the customer. The term can also refer to merely the distribution or logistical aspect, but in a broader sense, it refers to the way a company responds to customer orders.
For the most part, fulfillment is when the merchant takes steps to deliver an order to the buyer. Typically, the seller is going to go the extra mile to streamline the logistics portion of their online business, to make the order fulfillment process as smooth as possible and maximize customer satisfaction. Let’s jump right in and see what you can do to make your fulfillment steps proceed just a bit more smoothly.
Three strategies to enhance your order fulfillment.
When it comes to speeding up order fulfillment, there are plenty of things you can do to make a big impact. Some of them are “quick fixes” that you can put into practice right away and see immediate results, and others will take a little more time to fully execute. Use them all together, though, and you’ll be well on your way to order fulfillment paradise.
That’s right, we’re talking ABC Analysis. This method of classification divides your inventory into three different groups.
- Group A is for items that have the highest annual consumption value. Often, the top 70-80% of the annual consumption value of the company typically accounts for only 10-20% of total inventory items.
- Group B is for your medium consumption value items. In general, this group is made up of 15-25% of annual consumption value and accounts for 30% of your total SKU count.
- Group C items have the lowest consumption value. These items make up 5% of the annual consumption value, accounting for 50% of your total items.
Grouping your inventory this way ensures that you always have the right stock levels for your mission-critical items. It’s also extremely helpful to organize your warehouse according to these classifications. You’ll want the most popular items in the most convenient location so they can be picked, packed, and shipped as quickly as possible. Slower inventory can be stored in a less critical area, since it’s needed less frequently. Arranging your warehouse this way really cuts down on the time it takes to process and fulfill orders.
Available integrations are a crucial element to consider when you’re evaluating which ERP solution is best for you. Opting for a solution that doesn’t provide you with integration options to enhance your ERP’s performance will inhibit your company’s potential for growth
To better streamline your fulfillment, you need visibility into several areas — forecasting, sales, inventory management… you get the idea. Gaining this visibility requires integration between the different aspects of your operations, especially if you’re doing business in the cloud.
Without these integrations, it’s difficult to maintain accurate data across all areas of your operations. Because fulfillment depends so much on visibility into daily operations, having every facet of your company on the same page will be an immense help in streamlining the process.
Once you’re able to provide more visibility into all aspects of the process, it’s time to see how these processes can be sped up. The secret ingredient here? Automation.
Automation, in this case, isn’t referring to robots that are doing the physical work for you. Instead, we’re talking about smaller steps in an automation process, such as barcoding items so you can scan them instead of manually typing in item numbers.
Automation is, without a doubt, the way of the future. Having to push the start button every time you need to initiate a common task already feels a little too old-school for a growing, motivated company. The right automation solution will free up your time and drastically reduce the number of buttons clicked throughout the course of the workday.
For businesses concerned about costs, the investment doesn’t have to be huge, either. This is where mastery of your ERP system comes in. Most traditional ERPs have some light automation functionality built in, but the trick is putting in the time to learn to use it. If you can dip into the budget a bit, you’ll be able to leverage some of the even more powerful solutions, further increasing the efficiency of your fulfillment.
And that brings us to the end of our Inventory Adventure! Thanks for sticking with us while we covered intake, management and fulfillment. Product-centric business have their work cut out for them with all this inventory, but with the right steps, taking care of all those SKUs will be no trouble at all.
See inventory in action.
If you’re unsure about all this inventory talk, you’re in luck — we’ve got a brand new webinar that goes through the whole process. Sign up today to see how it’s all handled in SalesPad Cloud. There’s lots to learn about handling all different aspects of your inventory, but rest assured, we’re eager to help you succeed.