Every experience in business and the takeaway from a management lesson has one thing in common with the sustainability of operations: customer satisfaction. For small and mid-size businesses in eCommerce, this is a critical determinant in scaling operations and achieving organic growth. This is where order fulfilment is intricately linked with customer service and customer satisfaction. Order fulfilment is a result of operational efficiency which helps a business achieve higher productivity and profitability compared to the resources used.
What is operational efficiency?
For small and medium e-commerce businesses, operational efficiency is critical as it directly impacts their growth and customer satisfaction in supply chain management. These businesses often have limited resources, and optimising their operations can help reduce costs, increase output, and improve customer satisfaction.
Operational efficiency refers to a metric which evaluates the ability of a business to maximise output while minimising process costs. By implementing efficient processes and systems, e-commerce businesses can reduce the time and effort required to perform tasks. Order fulfilment is the culmination of all these processes that a business adopts for an increase in profits and customer satisfaction.
Factors that impact operational efficiency
Three main factors impact the operational efficiency of a business.
Resource Utilisation: Operational efficiency involves optimising the use of raw materials, minimising wastage, and ensuring that human resources are used efficiently. Effective resource utilisation helps to reduce costs and increase productivity.
Logistics and Inventory Management: Effective logistics and inventory management can help reduce lead times, minimise stock-outs, and optimise inventory levels. This, in turn, reduces costs, improves operational efficiency and increases customer satisfaction.
Sourcing Strategy for Manufacturing: A well-planned sourcing strategy ensures that the right products are available at the right time and at the right price. This is a sure-shot way to bring down costs, improve quality, and pass on the benefits to the end user.
Now that we know that efficient fulfilment is crucial for customer service and customer satisfaction in eCommerce, let us find out how to go about improving order fulfilment and winning over customers. While there are several ways to streamline supply chain operations and improve fulfilment efficiency, there are 3 steps that are directly linked to increasing customer satisfaction.
Integrated OMS and WMS
A seamless integration between the order management system (OMS) and the warehouse management system (WMS) can significantly reduce the time and effort required for processing orders. Partnering with a 3PL with integrated OMS and WMS takes the headache of managing, sorting and processing orders from humans and automates the whole process saving on man hours, reducing human errors and ensuring customer satisfaction in supply chain management.
Transparency: Real-time updates and disclosures on return policy Transparency is vital to bagging customers and keeping them. A customer can compare products, check feedback, and change a buying decision in a flash of a second in a hyper-connected world. This is where transparency steps in. Customers appreciate transparency when it comes to the status of their orders. Providing real-time updates and clear disclosures on the return policy can help set the right expectations and increase customer satisfaction.
Reliable and fast shipping
Fast and reliable shipping is essential to stay on top of customer service and customer satisfaction. eCommerce businesses must ensure that they have the right logistics partners and shipping methods to meet their customers' expectations. This includes providing accurate delivery estimates, tracking information, and efficient handling of any shipping issues or delays.
The use of AI now encompasses most operations of an online business. This includes front and back-end operations to fulfilment. This is how AI helps in improving operational efficiency and increasing customer satisfaction.
Demand forecasting: AI can analyse historical sales data, market trends to predict future demand. This information can then be used to optimise inventory levels, reduce stockouts, and improve order processing.
Warehouse management: AI-powered systems can optimise warehouse layouts and inventory placement, suggest picking routes for workers, and even track inventory levels in real-time using cameras and sensors.
Route optimization: AI can analyse traffic patterns, delivery locations, and other factors to optimise last-mile delivery routes. This can help reduce delivery times, fuel costs, while increasing customer satisfaction.
Returns processing: AI can help automate the returns process by analysing return reasons, automatically generating return labels, and even predicting which products are most likely to be returned.
In conclusion, fulfilment efficiency plays a critical role in the success of eCommerce businesses and the satisfaction of their customers. The integration of an OMS and WMS system, transparent communication of return policies, and reliable and fast shipping are all key factors that contribute to a positive customer experience. By focusing on these aspects, eCommerce businesses can improve their operational efficiency, reduce errors and delays, and ultimately increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.