In today’s digital-first world, eCommerce is the largest sales channel for a growing number of industries. With more than 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide, businesses have to stay on top of their game not only to attract demand but keep up with it. In this article, we’ll dive into what order processing is, why it’s so important and how Cantec Couriers can help you simplify your order management.
What is Order Processing?
Order processing is an essential step of the order fulfillment process. It describes the workflow that an order undergoes from when a customer places their order until it’s processed for delivery. Depending on the size and industry of the business, this process can include multiple distribution centers and warehouses or just a few people working with automated systems.
A critical factor of the fulfillment experience, order processing directly affects customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. If your order processing systems are rife with long transit times, high shipping costs and human error, these elements translate directly to your customer’s experience.
How Does Order Processing Work
Order processing begins when a customer places their order. The number of steps may differ depending on the order processing system, but here is how the typical workflow looks like:
An online store will typically use an order management system or CRM to receive and process customer orders. The details of the order, including the customer’s information, delivery address and shipping details, are processed by the order management system or CRM software and sent to be processed.
Depending on the delivery speed, inventory availability, and organization size, these order details may be sent to a specific fulfillment center or warehouse to reduce delivery costs, landed costs, and fulfillment times. If a business has a warehouse management system, multiple fulfillment centers may process and pick the order even faster.
Smaller organizations may only have one warehouse or utilize retail stores as distribution centers to help fulfill orders. These hybrid stores are known as dark stores, and larger retailers such as Walmart, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond have started to use the dark store concept to improve their cost efficiency and increase their order fulfillment times.
For example, Cantec Courier’s delivery platform can help stores transform their brick-and-mortar retail stores into hybrid fulfillment centers by providing them comprehensive logistics and shipping solution that integrates seamlessly with their stores.
When your customers make a purchase, they can choose from various shipping options, including in-store pickup, curbside pickup and same-day delivery. Flexible shipping times, speeds and rates offer customers more convenience than ever before and help save on operating expenses.
Once the order has been received, order picking can begin. Order picking is the process of collecting and preparing items for a specific customer order. Order picking relies on inventory data and order data and must be an optimized process. The faster order pickers can process an order, the faster it can move onto processing, packaging and delivery.
Common picking strategies include:
- Zone Picking – Employees are assigned a specific ‘zone’ and pick items within that particular area.
- Piece Picking – Employees pick and collect items for one order until it’s completed.
- Batch Picking – Employees pick and collect items in batches for multiple orders at once.
Your business’s size, operations, and order volume will affect your picking strategies. Batch picking will work best within a warehouse, while piece picking is optimal for smaller businesses and dark stores.
After the items are picked for online orders, they’re sorted depending on the order and delivery destination. Sorting prepares customer orders for packaging and ensures that they’re in good condition. This process is also a final check for available inventory before an order is finalized and processed.
Packing and Packaging
Once the items are picked and sorted according to her order data, they can be packaged and prepared for delivery. Choosing the proper shipping, packaging, and dunnage is essential to provide sufficient protection for the online order, deliver a great customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.
A business can cut costs by using generic packaging or provide an excellent fulfillment experience by using custom packaging. The shipping, packaging and processing step also includes labelling, weighing and determining the dimensions of the packages.
Doing so helps calculate the cost of delivery. If the package is being shipped internationally, this step also determines the landed cost of shipping a parcel to a specific country.
Shipping and Delivery
The final step in order fulfillment is shipping and delivery. Businesses may choose to use order processing software to consolidate their orders in one central database or distribution center to speed up fulfillment times or ship directly to the customer’s address. Package tracking is also usually included to keep customers informed of their order status and deliver a better customer experience and gain more loyal customers.
A courier service, such as Cantec Couriers, can also provide last-mile delivery if the distribution center is in an urban center, such as the case with hybrid dark stores, or if a business chooses to ship from their retail location.
Factors Influencing Order Processing
No two businesses will be the same. There are a variety of elements that can influence your speed and fulfillment rate. Here are just a few of them:
Order Processing Systems Type
Depending on your organization, your processing system may be one of two varieties:
Traditional Order Processing Systems
A traditional system depends on manual processes and manual systems. This kind of system can save on operating costs and expenses for smaller organizations as efficiently as automated ones. However, relying on a small team of employees and one order log sheet to handle manual processing operations can lead to employee burnout and fatigue.
Modern Order Processing Systems
Unlike manual operations, modern order processing operations are highly technological and rely on automated business processes, work flows and software. Using a computerized system can reduce human error and increase order fulfillment times but can increase operating costs.
The order fulfillment process for auto parts will look vastly different than processing for grocery delivery. Items that require refrigeration, special handling or heavy equipment can impact the order fulfillment process and affect processing speed.
A small, specified quantity of orders processed for B2C businesses will be picked and packaged differently from B2B, bulk or wholesale orders. Small orders can be shipped directly to a customer via courier service, but high-volume orders might require LTL shipping.
The type of packaging and dunnage used will differ from industry to industry, and these differences can influence the picking and packing speed. HVAC equipment requires specific packaging and equipment to be prepared for delivery, while vendors can easily package pet supplies and food.
Automate Order Processing with Cantec Couriers
Maximizing customer satisfaction, increasing your order fulfillment times and optimizing your processing work flow depends on having the right software and the right order management system. Without these two systems working together, the struggle to increase customer satisfaction will prove difficult.
An order management and order processing solution such as Cantec Couriers can help you automate the process and eliminate the system disadvantages of other order management software.
Our consolidated inventory and fulfillment systems integrate seamlessly onto your eCommerce platform within minutes – all without the need for an IT team.
With the push of a button, you can digitize your store’s inventory, track product move rates and process and dispatch orders without breaking a sweat.
Once your business receives the order, all you need to do to prepare your customers’ orders for delivery is package them up and attach the delivery label.
When the order is dispatched, the customer receives real-time status updates, package tracking and ETA updates to keep them in the loop. Our dashboard lets you stay on top of your orders, deliveries, and drivers – all in one location.
Don’t have enough drivers? You can onboard your own employees and manage them on our dashboard or use our own vetted and trusted fleet of couriers to help you scale, no matter how many sales you have.
Order processing is a key element of the fulfillment process and is critical not only for inventory management but for business success, too. Join Cantec Couriers for free today to automate your processing, provide more fulfillment options for your customers and turn your store into a distribution center!