Small business owners have to be highly organized to stay on top of order fulfillment and control the costs of logistics. Here are a few things that you can do to strengthen your business’ order management infrastructure.
Optimize Shipping Options for Your Customers
In the world of e-commerce, being able to get orders in customers’ hands as fast and affordably as possible is crucial to retailers’ success. When online shoppers are ready to check out and discover that there are hefty shipping fees or they’re uncertain about wait times, they might understandably opt to abandon their purchase altogether and look for another vendor that can get them an item faster or cheaper.
Giving people a clear sense of when they can expect their order may allay concerns about the turnaround time for orders. Using shipping API tools to verify mailing addresses shows online shoppers that you’re well-organized, and it could allow you to avert unnecessary delivery delays along with customer service problems.
It’s generally a good practice to give shoppers more than one shipping option. Having an expedited shipping option could win you more sales when time is of the essence. If you’re in the business of selling products that are popular gift items, you want to be able to accommodate all of the last minute shoppers who are looking for a quick gift solution online.
Use Great Inventory Management Software
Having automated records of your inventory is a big help when you’re evaluating how to allocate products between different distributors or retail locations. It is a good practice to integrate inventory management functions with your POS system. When closing a sale automatically generates an adjustment in your inventory management program, it can streamline your workflow and may also reduce your margin for error.
Don’t Skip Inventory Audits
Even with a great program to track your inventory, it’s also prudent to perform regular inventories physically. You can’t rely wholly on automated records if they don’t provide practical confirmation of items’ exact whereabouts and real-time quantities. Several potential issues could lead to discrepancies between what you have in your system about your stock of products and what you actually have in stock. Fulfillment mistakes or even theft could result in having far fewer items than you think you did.
It can be a huge blow to receive a big order that you’re sure you can fulfill and then discover that you actually can’t. Also, online shoppers really hate it when a company accepts payment for an item and then sends them a notification that the item that they’ve ordered is out of stock.
Putting eyes on the contents of a warehouse is the most reliable way to ascertain what you have, and it could equip you to detect mistakes or theft before the volume of the loss reaches epic proportions. Many small businesses find it worthwhile to hire a third-party inventory auditing service to get an accurate picture of where their levels stand.
Use Data About Your Sales Performance to Assess Demand
Small business owners must be wary about overextending themselves financially. Ordering or manufacturing too many items puts you in the position of having a lot of your resources tied up in inventory that isn’t selling. To steer clear of this situation, you should take steps to gague demand for various items with as much precision as possible.
Look at your sales records to identify which items are selling best and merit an increase in your inventory levels. At the same time, keep your eye out for things that aren’t selling well. Lastly, look at seasonal variations in demand. With this type of in-depth analysis, you’ll be sure to have enough of your most highly sought-after products instead of a warehouse of products that you’ll ultimately have to discount to get rid of.
Making your order fulfillment processes more efficient could increase your small business’ profits substantially. Saving time and money on logistics could ultimately help you ramp up your operating capacity and achieve steady growth.