Fulfilling ecommerce orders has never been a more demanding task. Not only are there more shoppers ordering online than ever, but buyers have come to expand faster and cheaper shipping over time. Orders must be shipped as soon after they were placed as humanly possible in order to satisfy your customers and keep them coming back for more.
The problem is that your day-to-day focus isn’t on getting your orders out the door — at least, it shouldn’t be. Fast-growing brands can’t afford to spend all of their available hours on shipping orders. You need to be working on growing your business, not just satisfying existing sales. So how can you automate the work that goes into daily order fulfillment?
The simple answer is to mimic what’s already being automated in your operation. Let’s take payment processing as an example: the whole pipeline of card verification, charging, address validation, and customer notification is (most likely) handled by your shopping cart or marketplace. This is an incredibly valuable innovation we’ve enjoyed over the last few years, and it’s made possible by a few simple tenants of automation: memorization, automation, and calculation. Let’s apply those same concepts to automating your order fulfillment decisions.
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Mark your calendars, sellers: Prime Day is just around the corner. With over 100 million paying members globally, Amazon Prime is a surefire sales accelerator. But not every merchant finds Amazon’s fulfillment service ideal, either due to the extra cost or the nature of their products. Fortunately, Amazon has a relatively new alternative for reaching Prime members without sending inventory to Amazon’s fulfillment centers: Seller Fulfilled Prime.
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Postage rate increases happen every year, much to the displeasure of online retailers. Postage is a large part of the costs of doing business in the ecommerce world, so inflation of that cost is rarely welcomed. Of course, the costs are justified: fuel, salaries, and administrative overhead increase every year, as is the nature of those things. But what can you, an ecommerce retailer, due to survive the 2017 postage rate increases? Let’s take a look at the changes and what we can do about them:
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Most ecommerce businesses pick and ship their orders using the same general workflow. A warehouse manager may start by printing out paper pick lists for each order waiting to be shipped. This paper slips are then taken into the warehouse for order picking. Once each item in an order has been picked, it’s handed off to the shipping department. The shipping crew then packs and weighs the order, then prints a shipping label.
The warehouse management industry refers to this workflow as discrete order fulfillment. It’s a simple and easy to adopt way to fulfill orders of any amount. This makes it a clear choice for ecommerce businesses that are just starting out and growing. But businesses that are facing an increasing order demand need a way to speed up their order fulfillment. If this sounds like your business, batch picking and shipping may be the answer.
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Shipping costs are going up every year, as I’m sure you’re painfully aware. As fuel, labor, and overhead increase, so must the rates from top carriers like FedEx, UPS, and the post office. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to reduce your postage costs, such as hybrid shipping services.
What is hybrid shipping? It’s kind of like a hybrid car: you have a gas engine and an electric motor in the same vehicle, and the vehicle will switch to the right motor for the job. Hybrid shipping services hand off a package from one carrier to another, usually from a private parcel service to a local postal service for delivery.
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