An effective distribution and fulfillment process is vital to the success of your business. No matter how you fulfill orders—in-house or through a third-party logistics provider—it’s important to always be thinking about continuous improvement and how to improve your order fulfillment process.

We talked to a few of the fulfillment experts at ITS Logistics and they shared their professional insights on what you should be investing in and focusing on to improve your order fulfillment process, increase efficiency, cut costs and drive business growth and success for your company.

Use Technology to automate processes and increase visibility

“Technology can be a key differentiator in your order fulfillment strategy. Make sure your 3PL partner invests in that area. The right solution will decrease potential fulfillment mistakes, save time and decrease labor needs while improving efficiency and order accuracy. Your order management system needs to be able to deliver real time data on inventory, order status updates, shipping/freight, etc. so you can make immediate, data-driven decisions. A really good data analytics team can create custom dashboards and give you access to data you might not even know you had.

 

Ryan Martin, President of Asset Operations

ITS Logistics President of Asset Operations Ryan Martin

“A really good data analytics team can create custom dashboards and give you access to data you might not even know you had.”

ITS Logistics Distribution General Manager Todd Huber

Invest in your returns process

“Customers expect the ecommerce returns process to be free and easy on their end, whether they are returning an item in a brick and mortar store or through the mail. If your returns process requires a lot of manual labor, you will lose money. By investing in a quality warehouse management system or custom order fulfillment software and creating efficient standard operating procedures, you can reduce friction and increase your ability to track returns while clearly communicating the status to your customer. If you do it right, you can make your returns process a strength and build brand loyalty.”

 

Todd Huber, General Manager, Distribution Services

Embrace omnichannel now – your customers expect it

“Today’s customer will buy your product in whatever way is most convenient for them. This could be from Amazon, your local brick and mortar store, or directly from your website. And if your customer’s purchase doesn’t meet their expectations, they’ll expect that returning or exchanging their item will be simple. They might want to return it in person, at a retail outlet that partners with online sellers, or even have it picked up at their doorstep. 2020 accelerated the adoption of more unique omnichannel fulfillment techniques like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, buy online, return in store (BORIS) and more. These new ways of fulfillment are here to stay, as they mutually benefit both the customer and the retailer—saving both on shipping costs and offering convenience. Customer buying behavior continues to evolve rapidly with all these new options, and you’ll need to make sure your offerings evolve along with them. The voice of the customer carries more weight now than it ever has, and businesses that fail to adapt are quickly finding themselves left behind. So, make sure your 3PL can handle it all with a true omnichannel distribution solution.”

 

Zak Urrutia, Senior Director of Operations, Distribution Services

ITS Logistics employee Zak Urrutia

“The voice of the customer carries more weight now than it ever has, and businesses that fail to adapt are quickly finding themselves left behind.”

ITS Logistics employee Liz Ballin

Focus on SOPs

“Really focus on SOPs and creating standardized processes. Having these processes in place increases productivity and reduces any errors. Often for small and mid-cap companies the process is overlooked which increases costs as well as preventable errors. The process needs to include consistent communication with the customer, real-time visibility and total alignment on requirements. Effective SOPs will help your entire company run more smoothly, from fulfillment in the warehouse to relationships with your customers.”

 

Liz Ballin, Client Services Manager, Distribution Services

Prioritize engineering and an efficient inventory management system

“Seconds count, so put the effort into engineering your physical footprint. From picking to packing to shipping, less movement means more efficiency and decreased costs. Make sure your inventory is up to date and grouped into categories based on your most popular items. It’s important to organize your products based on how fast items move so you can maintain accurate stock and help reduce the time taken to fulfill customer orders. An optimally engineered footprint and an effective inventory management system are essential for a good customer experience, which drives customer satisfaction and retention.”

 

Tom Kerns, Senior Manager, Engineering

ITS Logistics employee Tom Kerns

“Seconds count, so put the effort into engineering your physical footprint. From picking to packing to shipping, less movement means more efficiency and decreased costs.”

ITS Logistics employee Patrick McFarland

Maintaining brand control and brand equity is more important than ever

“We’re seeing more and more businesses place a premium value on their brand equity and making the strategic decision to keep that direct relationship with their customer throughout the buying and fulfillment process. The key is to maintain personal connection with your customer from buying to packaging to kitting to shipping to the returns process. To stand out in the “Amazonification” of the digital marketplace you need to create a strong relationship directly with your customer, building brand loyalty and turning them into a repeat and frequent buyer. Make sure you find a 3PL partner that becomes an extension of your business and helps strengthen that relationship!”

 

Patrick McFarland, Director of Marketing

Outsource logistics

“You might face challenges like drastic peaks and valleys in order volume due to seasonal demand, a lack of parcel volume for negotiating rates with carriers, lack of flexibility regarding storage space and more. You have an option to supplement your supply chain with a third party logistics company to help with these challenges. This will help you to reduce your supply chain costs, scale your business without limitations—and allow you to focus on running your business instead of dealing with the logistics.”

 

Kasia Wenker, Director of Distribution Sales

ITS Logistics employee Kasia Wenker

“You might face challenges like drastic peaks and valleys in order volume due to seasonal demand, a lack of parcel volume for negotiating rates with carriers, lack of flexibility regarding storage space and more.”

Learn how to improve your order fulfillment process with ITS Logistics

 

At ITS Logistics, our distribution experts are always looking for the best ways to help our customers improve their order fulfillment processes. With industry-leading best practices in continuous improvement, inventory management, custom technology solutions, returns processing, and capabilities for a variety of fulfillment service options, we are ready to help you increase your efficiency and save money. If you are looking to take your order fulfillment process to the next level, give us a call today.

See how we can help today at (775) 353-5160 or fill out our short form.

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