order fulfillment strategies

Order Fulfillment Strategies for 2022

Over the past couple of years, e-commerce sales grew substantially as shoppers avoided brick-and-mortar stores and bought from online sites instead. Although the figures vary depending on the reporting agency and how they tallied the figures, the total revenues from e-commerce sales in 2021 were roughly $768 billion. Industry sources now expect online shopping revenues to top $1.3 trillion by 2025. 

Those statistics mean e-commerce companies must be prepared to deliver quality goods and outstanding service if they expect to garner a larger slice of the e-commerce pie in the future. One important element of e-commerce success is and will continue to be getting your company’s goods to the customer quickly and efficiently. To accomplish that goal, developing effective order fulfillment strategies will certainly be crucial in 2022. So, what can e-commerce business owners do to enhance their order fulfillment strategies now?

Understanding the Role of Fulfillment Strategies in 2022

In some instances, having a consumer order a product is the easy part of a sales transaction. A sales fulfillment strategy includes all the steps behind the scenes that are essential in moving products through the pipeline and getting them into the customer’s hands. In recent months, companies everywhere discovered that is not always easy. Shipments languish in ships, on docks, and in warehouses where companies have little control over delivery schedules and services. 

That means getting your organization’s products to customers may experience delays that not all customers are willing to accept. Avoiding issues isn’t easy, and some are unavoidable, but fulfillment strategies that are proactive rather than reactive minimize some of the pain involved. One way to speed up your organization’s delivery times is to work with a direct sales fulfillment partner specializing in saving their clients time and money while getting merchandise to consumers quickly and reliably.

Order fulfillment specialists understand there are seven steps involved in order fulfillment, and not all companies can properly handle all of them. That’s why developing a relationship with fulfillment specialists is crucial. Here are the seven steps involved in fulfillment strategies.

1.) Obtaining adequate inventory.

Timing is always important, and many companies have discovered that just-in-time strategies don’t always work when world events cause delays everywhere in the pipeline. Proactive organizations are finding they need to be flexible when ordering products and should always have alternative sources for the goods they need to operate in 2022. 

2.) Storing inventory.

In recent years, storing inventory became less of an issue as shippers routinely made deliveries on time, which allowed merchants to move those goods to consumers without needing to store them. Today, that’s not as true, and some e-commerce business owners are finding they must store products longer than has been true in the last decade. That means many don’t have large facilities to keep their inventories. Order fulfillment experts routinely deal with ups and downs in business cycles and have facilities available to store goods when necessary. That service means e-commerce companies don’t need to expand their existing sites or source additional space. In 2022, finding ways to avoid paying for more space will take center stage.

3.) Filling orders.

E-commerce companies may elect to function with a minimal number of employees. When order numbers vary, it’s always difficult to staff appropriately, as peaks require extra help and leaner times mean few people are needed to pick orders for shipping to customers. Rather than risk having dissatisfied customers, e-commerce businesses choose to use fulfillment experts to handle order picking and associated chores. That, in turn, means those companies can expect to expand rather than languish in the coming year. 

4.) Packaging orders for shipping.

Logistics experts include packaging services to keep orders flowing smoothly through the pipeline. It’s also important to ensure all packaging can endure rough handling between the shipper and the recipient. Order fulfillment professionals take pride in packaging products to survive the last leg of their trip to the end-user. Many e-commerce companies are discovering new and innovative packing ideas to keep costs low.

5.) Shipping to the end user.

In most cases, various companies will be responsible for moving products from the shipper’s facility to consumers. Top fulfillment experts take the time to choose the best shipping option for each type of product. In addition, when expediting shipments is necessary, options must be available to move packages quickly. In 2022, shippers may find it necessary to try new shipping companies to stay on top of the competition.

6.) Prompt, efficient delivery to the consumer.

When shoppers order merchandise online, they expect the products to arrive safely and quickly. That’s another reason it’s important to work with fulfillment experts, as those providers track the quality of delivery services to ensure e-commerce business owners aren’t overwhelmed with complaints from consumers. When customer satisfaction is tracked, shippers quickly discover which shippers provide quality service and which ones are lacking. Expect e-commerce companies to demand better service from delivery services in the coming months. 

7.) Processing returns.

While it would be nice if every consumer kept everything they ordered, that’s not real life. However, when returns are handled properly, costs are kept low, and many items can be repackaged and sold again. Far too often, returns end up being disposed of without any real way to recapture some part of the investment. In 2022, e-commerce companies will explore new ways to reduce the odds of returns. When returns are accepted, fulfillment companies will be involved in finding more efficient ways to deal with returned products. 

E-commerce and order fulfillment strategies are evolving at all levels, which means changes should be expected. That could mean even more changes in the way online companies function. 

Looking to the Future

The supply chain issues everyone faced in recent months won’t end suddenly, which suggests e-commerce companies will continue to work with order fulfillment experts to find new ways to improve the entire procurement, storage, and shipping process. While keeping costs low is always important, e-commerce companies also understand how crucial providing fast and efficient service is for retaining existing customers and garnering new ones. 

When exploring order fulfillment options, industry experts recommend contacting fulfillment experts that already have experience working with e-commerce companies. Having a system in place makes it easier for fulfillment companies to create a tailored approach to a specific e-commerce company’s needs.

Andrew Kirk

I am an experienced logistics and supply chain executive with over 15 years in the global end-to-end logistics field, including retail, direct sales, and B2B. I leverage strong relationship skills, a team-oriented management style, and a focus on talent development to drive results and lead change for our internal team and clients alike.