The foundation of success for a fulfillment company is efficiency. Failure to focus on improving efficiency can result in order delays, low levels of customer satisfaction, and client abandonment. Below are five strategies to help you speed up fulfillment and delight your customers.
1) Adjust inventory in accordance with your promotions. Most commercial businesses launch seasonal or product-specific promotions on a regular basis. One of the best ways you can speed up fulfillment of these orders is to position promotional items in an easily accessible area just before you launch your promotion. Or, if you have movable shelving or racks, you can relocate the shelves containing the promotional items to an area close to your picking staff. Once your promotion comes to a close, you can move the promotional products back to their original location and use the closer locations for your next batch of sale items.
2) Arrange your inventory according to velocity. Every fulfillment company has products that move faster than others. These products are known as high velocity items because they have a faster cycling speed than the average product. You can expedite fulfillment by placing these high velocity items in a convenient location. Tips for organizing high velocity items include the following:
- Make sure high velocity items are located within easy reach (on lower shelves)
- Arrange high velocity items on shelves that are close to the order preparation and shipping area
- Reserve top shelves and remote warehouse locations for your lowest velocity items
3) Employ kitting or pre-assembly when appropriate. Kitting is a strategy that expedites the order preparation process for products that are sold with a variety of standard accessories. For instance, a portable massaging device includes a standard accessory package that features a carrying case, spare electrodes and a tube of conductive gel. You can expedite order preparation by preassembling or placing the carrying case, electrodes, and gel with the massaging devices in advance of order placement.
One note of caution: You should not prepare too many prepackaged orders because some customers will want to buy the accessories individually since they are often consumables. Make sure to leave some spare accessories on your inventory shelf so you do not have to disassemble the complete kits that you prepared in advance.
4) Consider bundling products that are often purchased together. The fulfillment industry is ripe with purchasing trends. One key trend is the tendency for customers to purchase two or three different items together. Here are a few examples:
- Customers who invest in a costly grill also tend to buy a weatherproof cover
- Doctors who buy a patient monitor often need a compatible mobile stand
- Customers who purchase a dog collar frequently purchase a matching leash
In the above cases, order fulfillment can be expedited by positioning the two products that are purchased simultaneously close to one another in your warehouse. This strategy reduces picking time and facilitates organization.
5) Continually enhance your sorting process. Order fulfillment improvement should be an ongoing process that is dictated by the nature of your business and the various product lines that you sell. There are many ways that you can sort orders. Some of the ways of batching orders include sorting by zone, SKU, line items, or product line. Sorting by SKU is one of the most popular ways to organize orders because it minimizes the frequency with which pickers need to visit the location to retrieve items. Sorting by product line is a strategy used by companies that sell a variety of product lines.
Clearly, the fulfillment process is highly tractable. By employing the strategies above, you can consistently expedite fulfillment and increase customer satisfaction. We invite you to contact us to learn how we can help you adopt fulfillment strategies that will help you improve your fulfillment process and build a loyal customer base. We look forward to hearing from you!