Pick, Pack, and Deliver More With Automated Shopify Order Management
Up to 80% of consumers will spend more for a superior customer experience, while 75% have ceased doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience.
Not setting your team up with the right tools can quickly lead to customer frustration. Besides losing time and money, there’s also the risk of losing employees due to burnout.
When an order comes into Shopify, it’s your job to pack, ship, and track it. This process may be feasible for a small business selling just a handful of products per month. However, it won’t be sustainable if you want to grow and scale.
Real-time visibility into every single order allows for more informed inventory decisions, seamless shopping experiences, faster fulfillment times, less manual labor spent reviewing each order, and increased accuracy.
Technology allows us to automate fulfillment in a few different ways, all of which are great options for handling a growing ecommerce store. Keep reading to learn more about automating Shopify order management.
Which Shopify Fulfillment Method Is Right for Your Business?
The answer to this question is not as simple as you might think. There are many different factors that need to be considered when choosing a fulfillment method, including the type of product being sold, your budget, and how much time it takes to fulfill orders.
Once you know your needs, you can pick a fulfillment service that handles those needs. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the better options you can explore.
There are many different types of fulfillment systems available, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common types of fulfillment systems include:
- In-house fulfillment
- Third-party logistics (3PL) partners
- Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN)
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)
It is possible to fulfill orders yourself if you’re just starting out or have enough resources to hire a staff and lease a warehouse. With this approach, you get complete flexibility over every aspect of the supply chain, but it may be difficult to scale up quickly because it takes a while to set everything up the first time.
As companies grow online, they often shift from in-house fulfillment (fulfillment by employees using inventory management apps) to outsourcing fulfillment (fulfillment through third parties). It lets you leverage someone else’s fulfillment operation and warehouse management, rather than investing in warehouse locations, labor, equipment, fulfillment software, and more.
If you’re not planning to sell much online, or don’t plan to expand to multiple channels, this might be your best option.
There are clear advantages to handling your own order fulfillment process: it’s flexible and inexpensive. For these reasons, companies that are just starting out or that have unique ecommerce shipping requirements often manage their own logistics.
Regardless of age or industry, if your business struggles with cash flow, then you’re probably better off doing everything yourself rather than outsourcing. You may have more free hours than money.
Dropshipping is one of the least hands-on options for fulfilling orders, but it gives you far less flexibility regarding the order fulfillment process. Dropshippers don’t manage their own inventory; instead, they outsource the entire order fulfillment process to dropshipping suppliers or manufacturers.
Dropshippers tend to have longer transit times and more significant quality control concerns because you don’t have the opportunity to inspect products before they’re shipped out.
If your business is growing rapidly and you have enough cash on hand to outsource, you might want to explore this option.
Third-Party Logistics (3PL)
Many growing ecommerce sites choose to outsource their fulfillment operations by partnering with a 3PL provider.
Many 3PL companies offer multiple fulfillment centers, automated inventory management systems, and data and analytics tools that you make better business decisions across your supply chain.
A 3PL’s fulfillment centers are designed and optimized to be most efficient and effective, from the equipment they employ and how they operate to how they utilize their facilities and technology to improve efficiency.
3PLs partner directly with shippers to get discounts on freight costs, allowing them to offer more delivery services at lower prices. You don’t need to be an expert in logistics; you just need to know how to select the right partner.
Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN)
Shopify also offers a service called Shopify Fulfillments Network (SFN). It provides packing and shipping services for online stores. As an on-demand warehousing service, SFN works with other warehouse operators and third-party logistics providers (3PL) to use their technology and operations.
It is important that once your customers place orders through your Shopify store they receive them as fast as possible. This is why Shopify allows you to choose your fulfillment strategy.
When choosing between Shopify and another ecommerce platform for order fulfillment, consider what you’re selling and your average monthly order volume. It’s essential to note SFN‘s store guidelines:
- Your business must be located in the United States
- Your store must have less than 200 SKUs
- You ship between 84 to 6,200 orders a month
- You can’t sell regulated or perishable products
Amazon Fulfillment Methods
Amazon’s Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program handles logistics for brands that list items on Amazon. However, FBA is only for Prime items and is the most expensive shipping method available if you sell on Amazon.
One alternative to FBA is Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), which is when another partner (such as a 3PL or merchant) fulfills your Amazon orders.
Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) is another option for sellers. MCF involves you storing your products at Amazon’s warehouses. When customers place orders across your sales channels, Amazon handles the automatic order fulfillment.
Unlike fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) which only fulfills orders placed through Amazon’s marketplace, multi-channel fulfillment uses various shipping methods and speeds. You can connect multiple stores (including Amazon) and control product listings and fulfillments from your chosen Shopify channel using MCF.
What Is Automated Shopify Order Management?
Automated ordering systems leverage technology to replace manual processes by automating orders from shipping to returns.
With an order orchestration platform like Flxpoint, you’ll be able to automate almost everything related to orders management, from purchase order requests to shipping notifications.
Ecommerce storefronts help to convert customers into buyers. An OMS and fulfillment solution work behind the scenes to help companies manage ecommerce business operations efficiently.
Benefits of Automated Fulfillment
Automating order fulfillment through an OMS has several key benefits, including:
- Faster processing speeds and shorter cycle times
- Reduced labor costs related to stock management
- Shipping from the right location at the right price
- Smart routing for more effective capacity, inventory, and location management.
- Reduced time for customer support
- Lower risk of error
Automating the order management process helps you automate your entire order fulfillment process by providing advanced order routing and distributed ordering capabilities.
Accuracy is one of the most critical metrics to track regularly. If your orders are delivered accurately, then you can be sure that your customers will trust you. Several steps are involved in processing an online purchase, and manual processes always have room for errors.
Mistakes in entering customer and order information can cause delays in processing and shipping. These mistakes can result in unhappy customers and frustrated managers.
If you’re manually entering orders into your store’s backend, there’s always going to be the risk of making mistakes. Automating the order management and fulfillment process means you don’t have to worry about errors. With the right systems in place, you can increase your overall performance and exceed customer expectations.
Testing out the new flow by running a few test orders, including returns, will allow you to experiment before committing to new processes and complex workflows. Make sure you’re completely satisfied with the fulfillment method you choose to implement before going live.
Manually processing orders creates obstacles and doesn’t give you the clarity and transparency that an automatic system provides. With improved data extraction, data is available sooner, and you can see where your supply chains stand at any time. An OMS uses dashboards to keep tabs on pending orders and customer deliveries. You can also ensure proper order fulfillment and uninterrupted processing times by automatically checking and flagging any exceptions.
Full visibility into your business processes makes mitigating risks, forecasting demand, optimizing budgets, and streamlining workflow easier. Automated processes and dashboards created with real-time data can provide a high-level overview and allow you to quickly and clearly decide which actions to take next.
Automate Shopify Order Management With Flxpoint
Ecommerce fulfillment doesn’t have to be a challenge to overcome. By simplifying and automating the Shopify order management and fulfillment process, you can dedicate more time to growing your online business.
An adaptive fulfillment solution allows you to expand and transform your processes to keep up with customer demand. Automating your operations with an order management software solution like Flxpoint ensures that your customers receive their orders quickly and efficiently, increasing customer satisfaction and revenue.
As you expand your technology stack and inventory to additional sales channels, learn how Flxpoint can grow with you.
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