A person reviewing the success of their e-commerce store’s strategy by looking at various metrics on a laptop.

How to Streamline Your E-Commerce & Fulfillment Strategy

Every business strategy has a comprehensive plan for how the company will handle fulfillment. 

From deciding how your company will integrate its e-commerce platform with your third-party logistic vendor’s warehouse management system (WMS) to ensuring items move quickly from warehouse shelves into packaging and out to your customers, mastering fulfillment is critical to any e-commerce business. 

If your company hopes to streamline its shipping solutions, here are a few components to include in your e-commerce strategy.

1. Get a Grasp on Your Baseline

Any effort to streamline business processes must start with understanding how tasks are currently performed and their impact on the business. Fulfillment is no different. 

You should start by understanding how your fulfillment process is performing before digging into inefficiencies within individual steps. This could include metrics such as:

  • On-time shipping rate, or the rate at which orders arrive on or before their expected delivery date.
  • Internal cycle time, or the average time it takes for your company to ship orders after receiving them. 
  • Perfect order rate is the rate at which your company ships orders free of errors. 

 These metrics should be considered key performance indicators (KPIs) within your larger e-commerce strategy. You can also measure the role components of the fulfillment process play in its success or lack thereof. For example, you can measure the effectiveness of your picking operation by tracking the average number of orders picked each hour. Or, you can gauge how well your team is packaging orders by tracking the number of damage-free orders received.

2. Make Sure You Have Visibility Into Your Inventory Levels

A warehouse employee reviewing inventory levels on shelves.

Even the most well-thought-out e-commerce strategy cannot overcome a lack of visibility into company inventory. If inventory levels get too high, the company risks spending too much on storage costs, while low inventory levels present the risk of stockouts. 

Fortunately, achieving visibility into your inventory isn’t a massive lift. A few best practices include:

  • Record the details of every shipment you receive from your supplier. This is often achieved using a barcode scanner. 
  • Use WMS and inventory management technology to track the movement of items throughout your warehouse facility. 
  • Research and choose the optimal inventory management method for your business, with options ranging from just-in-time (JIT) management to materials requirement planning and economic order quantity.
  •  Routinely perform cycle counts or a process by which companies confirm their inventory records by manually counting in-stock items. 

Achieving visibility into your company’s inventory levels should be a significant area of focus in your e-commerce strategy. You’ll minimize stockouts, which reduces the likelihood of missed sales while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

3. Think Strategically About the Location of Your Warehouses

If you’re hoping to streamline your e-commerce business processes, you should always ask yourself: How can we increase on-time deliveries? The solution is a no-brainer: Locate your items closer to your customers. 

Of course, this isn’t easy if your business is in California and your most loyal customers are in Pennsylvania. You can overcome this distance by partnering with a warehousing solutions provider near your customer base. That said, the components of your e-commerce fulfillment strategy regarding warehousing vendor selection should include a range of considerations, including:

  • Whether it’s located near major highways and international ports
  • If it’s capable of scaling alongside your business. 
  • Whether it is willing to streamline its shipping solutions to meet your customers’ needs.

The extent to which it integrates warehouse management technology into its processes.

4. Invest in Drop Shipping Automation Software

Not long ago, dropshipping was a labor-intensive process involving sending and approving orders to a vendor. Today, it’s much more straightforward. 

Modern dropshipping technology automatically forwards the order to a manufacturer or wholesaler whenever a customer orders. The supplier takes it from there and ships the product directly to the customer. So, how can you make automated dropshipping a part of your e-commerce strategy? As is the case with most other parts of modern life, there’s an app available. 

Whether you use Shopify, Wix, or WooCommerce, you can easily find an application capable of automating drop shipping for your business. This includes:

  • Automating research into products
  • Importing products into your online store
  • Optimizing product listings
  • Monitoring inventory levels and prices from potential suppliers

An investment in drop shipping automation can improve the efficiency and accuracy of your fulfillment process while allowing your team to avoid investing a significant amount of time in supply chain management. Drop shipping is a great place to start if you’re asking yourself how to streamline your company’s business processes. 

5. Don’t Ignore Your Returns Process

Returns are an overlooked yet critical part of an e-commerce company’s business strategy. A comprehensive process for returns can promote customer satisfaction while differentiating your business from its competitors. 

Customers return items for many reasons. This can include the customer finding a better deal elsewhere or receiving a damaged item. In any case, you need policies to guide your fulfillment team as return requests come up. This policy should outline:

  • How to determine whether a customer is eligible for a refund
  • The instructions customers should receive to process their return request
  • The logistics of shipping the item from a customer’s home to your warehouse facility.
  • An evaluation process for returned items. 
  • How to collect and store returns data to detect product defects

Every e-commerce business owner wants to believe their store sells the best products. But even the most cutting-edge items won’t fully satisfy every customer. A well-crafted e-commerce strategy accounts for this by making returns as painless as possible for customers.

CONRI Can Revolutionize Your Fulfillment 

At CONRI, we have over 70 years of experience developing third-party logistics solutions for our customers. Whether you want to streamline your shipping or explore dropshipping automation, our team can help make fulfillment a critical piece of your e-commerce strategy. Submit a contact form today to get started!

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