How to Monitor, Prevent Fulfillment Errors

Ecommerce companies typically focus on getting traffic and promoting a wide range of products that shoppers will actually buy. Many ecommerce businesses track key performance indicators like new visitors, conversion rates, and average order values.

But for many ecommerce companies, especially smaller ones, fulfillment is an afterthought. That is a mistake. You will find key satisfaction metrics that merchants should track, including:

  • Error prices orders pulled;
  • Error prices on products sent ;
  • Turnaround time for orders at the period of receipt to dispatch;
  • Actual cost of transport versus the rate billed;
  • Time to fill a typical purchase.

Often there is little if any formal instruction to gratification team, and the pay is low. As a result of this, there might be excessive employee turnover. That can cause more mistakes in the process.

Fulfillment Workflow

Most companies follow some variation of the following workflow — assuming they print pick lists and do not have barcode scanners.

  1. Order is obtained in the shopping cart or order management system.
  2. Buy is supported in some manner, like a fraud check and inventory in stock.
  3. Deciding slide is published. A packing slip may be printed in precisely the exact same moment. For people who have several warehouses, there could be other processes involved too.
  4. Deciding slide is placed to some kind of container, to retrieve inventory.
  5. Container is assigned to an order clerk, who then travels through the warehouse adding the items to the container. Matters are checked off as they are picked.
  6. Quality test. After all things are added, they could go to a checking or inspection station for an superb check.
  7. Checked orders are subsequently transferred to the shipping department.
  8. Shipping packs the orders in the appropriate packing materials for your own carrier. Sometimes, shipping may need to select the carrier based on weight, destination, or cost.
  9. Attach labels. Shipping labels are printed and attached to the boxes.
  10. Boxes are coordinated for pickup by supplier.
  11. Clients informed. Ideally, the carriers’ systems are integrated with the order management system, so tracking data could be emailed to the customer.
  12. Shipping costs tracked. Post actual shipping costs to an order management or financial system to compare actual versus estimated costs.
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This is a lengthy workflow. In my experience as an ecommerce proprietor, errors typically occur in the first picking of inventory. For people that have a 90 percent accuracy rate, a 9 percent error will likely be at the initial pass of pulling the order out of inventory. A much lower error percentage, maybe 1 percent, will likely undergo the purchase checking process. But errors will happen no matter how thorough you are.

Packing and Shipping

The actual packaging and transport part can create mistakes, also. I’ve seen everything from requests being divided into two packages, to an entire batch of requests with jumbled shipping labels. I’ve delivered packages to the post office merely to find UPS boxes mixed from the bin.

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As a manager, unless you’ve actually done the whole process yourself, you will likely wonder how mistakes can happen. However, I found the whole process dull and repetitive. If your employees are not paying attention at every step, they could easily make a mistake.

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Relevance of Fulfillment Construction

This brings me to the importance of getting structured fulfillment procedures. Everybody at the warehouse should follow the very same steps. This will permit you to move staff and train new employees a lot more easily. Furthermore, it helps identify the source of errors, for correction.

This all starts with a baseline for measurement and improvement. Establish quality objectives and criteria and measure them on a constant basis. Quantify your overall quality and performance for the entire workflow.

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There is lots of expense in this area. It may not be worker salary. It may be from lost business if your customers get incomplete or erroneous orders, which also generate yield fees and reshipping charges.

Review your satisfaction procedure at least every six months. Evaluate performance. Consult your employees about areas they find hard and ask them the best way to improve. Consistently monitor shipping fees. Companies like UPS and FedEx may seem like the best choices. But when you factor in fuel surcharges, home delivery add-ons, and so forth, you may be better off with the U.S. Postal Service for some sorts of packages.

In conclusion, invest time and money into optimizing your fulfillment operations. It helps increase profits.

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