The method by which a company processes a sales order to the customer’s specifications, that understates its importance. Customers hold more power than ever, are more informed and have higher expectations. Efficient order fulfillment is key to your brand’s reputation, your company’s profits and your ability to retain clients.
Order fulfillment is a process consisting of receiving and processing goods for distribution to customers.
Order fulfillment means fulfilling a sales order to the customer’s specifications. That is, delivering goods as promised at the time of sale. There are three main steps in this process: receiving, processing and shipping.
Companies make money by selling goods, products and services to businesses or direct to consumers. No matter whether you’re B2B or D2C, the sale is not complete until the sold items are received by that customer. Order fulfillment is how companies complete the sale and it’s at the heart of every business.
Goods may come from a third party, another company department or a company warehouse; a pipeline (as with oil, fuel, water or some other fluid product); as digital data from a database; or in a variety of forms from other external or internal sources.
In any case, the incoming inventory must be counted, inspected and inventoried to ensure the proper amount was received and the quality is acceptable. SKUs or bar codes on the arriving products are used in the receiving and storage processes, and to retrieve goods from internal storage later.
Once goods are received in the fulfillment center, they are inventoried and either immediately disbursed or sent to short- or longer-term storage. Items are ideally stored just long enough to help organize the orderly distribution of goods for existing sales, rather than to hold product for future sales.
An order processing management system dictates the product picking and packing activities per each newly received customer order. In the online marketplace, order management software can be integrated with the shopping cart on an ecommerce website to automatically initiate order processing.
A picking team or automated warehouse robots select items from the warehouse according to a packing slip’s instructions. The packing slip contains specific information, such as a list of item SKUs, product colors, sizes, number of units and location in the distribution center’s warehouse.
Packing materials are selected by a packing team or automated fulfillment robots to achieve the lowest practical dimensional weight, which is calculated by multiplying package length times width times height. Since space on delivery trucks is at a premium, optimizing dimensional weight (or DIM weight) is important to speed transport while also potentially lowering shipment costs.
Further, packing teams often include return shipping materials and labels in case the customer wishes to exchange or return the item for a refund later.
The order is sent to a transportation channel or shipping node to be shipped to the customer. Shippers and carriers be they freight lines or airlines, FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or other carriers determine freight billable costs by whichever is greater: actual package weight or its dimensional weight.
Even if the actual weight is low, such as with a t-shirt, packing it in the lowest DIM is often worth it to keep the packaging from adding significantly to the overall package weight. Also, most carriers have packaging rules to optimize their own profits from the shipping space they have available. Failing to meet those requirements can delay shipments if carriers refuse to accept the order.
It is common for shipping routes to include more than one carrier. For example, FedEx may pick up a package at the fulfillment center that will later be delivered by the USPS to the customer’s home. There are many reasons for these hybrid shipping methods. One common example is that the USPS delivers even to remote areas where most other commercial carriers do not. It’s simply more practical to use the USPS for the last mile of delivery in those cases.
Relationship building skills are a combination of soft skills that a person applies to connect with others and form positive relationships. In the workplace, relationship building skills are essential for getting along with coworkers, contributing to a team and building an understanding between yourself and others.
The following skill sets can typically be considered as essential skill sets to developing successful relationship building skills:
Non-verbal communication skills
Non-verbal communication can have an impact on how you build relationships with others. For instance, learning how to read body language can help you pick up on other people’s emotions.
Relationships are people-centered. To form successful and strong work relationships, you should possess effective interpersonal skills. Being able to understand another person’s perspective, showing respect when you feel it’s unwarranted or showing compassion for your team can all be attributed to developing interpersonal skills.
Active listening is an essential part of communication, however, developing active listening skills can sometimes be more effective than learning how to speak in a meeting. Active listening encompasses making eye contact, being aware of non-verbal cues and asking questions that show you are invested in the conversation. This not only shows that you respect your team’s ideas, it can also show that you care about all perspectives.
Verbal communication skills
Verbal communication is also essential to building strong relationships. For instance, if you join a meeting with your colleagues, you can practice your verbal communication by finding opportunities to contribute ideas and ask questions. This can show that you are interested and open to hearing your team’s ideas as well as motivated to contribute your thoughts, too.
Emotional intelligence can be beneficial to develop overall and not just in the workplace. However, being emotionally intelligent can mean that you observe the dynamics in the office and find ways to contribute to your team, help solve conflict and generally work from a place of understanding.
Empathy is another key aspect of effective relationship building skills. Having empathy for your friends and co-workers means you seek to understand their feelings and emotions. When you actively practice empathy in the workplace, you can show your teammates and managers your dedication to maintaining your work relationships.
Building successful work relationships can also benefit from developing your networking skills. Meeting new people, exchanging ideas with other professionals and offering assistance to other business professionals can all help to boost your networking skills. With effective networking skills, you can increase your professional reach as well as form lasting professional relationships.
Working as part of a team will almost always require effective relationship building. Develop your teamwork skills by practicing effective communication, showing respect for others’ ideas and contributing and assisting where it’s needed.
Relationship with Customers
Be transparent in your dealings. Keep your customers well informed. Communicate with them through mails, SMses or over the phone. Your client has all the rights to know even the minutest detail of a product. After all he /she is paying for the same. Do not hide anything from them. They would in any case come to know about it and it is always advisable if they come to know through you rather than from others.
Do not be after your client’s life to take quick decisions. Give them time and space. Too much of phone calls will definitely spoil your relationship with the other person. Moreover, if you are constantly bothering your client, in due course of time, he/she would stop attending your calls. Rather than calling up the other person every single day, a gentle reminder either through SMs or email can do the trick. After all, if someone is convinced about your product, he/she would invest in any case; no matter you call him/her once or twice.
Be polite in your conversations. Never use foul words in your speech. It is completely unethical and unprofessional. For maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients, you need to learn to keep a check on your words. Never be rude to your clients.
Be a patient listener. Listen to what your clients have to say, rather than imposing your own ideas on them. Do not go unprepared in any of your business meetings. Remember, your client can ask you anything. If you do not know something at that point of time, it is always better to check and get back to him/her later rather than lying. Try to resolve all your client’s queries.
Try to give a personal touch in all your business meetings. Help your clients in taking decisions. Give them the right suggestion.
Never speak ill about your competitors and their products. Such a behaviour is completely unethical. If your products are genuinely good and have an edge over competitors, your client would definitely invest in them. You do not have to be too pushy.
Never ignore your client’s calls. If you have missed any of their calls, make sure you call them later.
Do remember to take proper feedbacks. After sales service is one of the major factors which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy and long term relationship with your clients. If your client is not satisfied with any of your products, replace the same immediately. Action needs to be taken at the earliest. Do not keep issues pending for long.
Always maintain a folder of personal information of your clients. Wish them on their birthdays, anniversaries or any other special occasion. It would further strengthen your bond with your client. Moreover, if you share a healthy relationship with your client; trust me they will always come back to you. In fact they would not even think of going to your competitors. Networking is the key to success in today’s business scenario. Contacts help in the long run. Always remember to take business cards of people you meet on a daily basis. Even if you are through with your deal, make sure you are in constant touch with your client. Drop him at his office sometimes or call him to your office for a cup of coffee.