Top 5 eCommerce Fulfillment Strategies to Improve Your Customer’s Experience

Top 5 eCommerce Fulfillment Strategies to Improve Your Customer’s Experience

Many consumers believe the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.  With this new era of online shopping, how does your eCommerce business update your fulfillment process to ensure the customer receives the best overall customer experience possible?

Strategic Vs Tactical

Many eCommerce businesses make the mistake of responding to problems in the moment with reactive tactics, rather than thinking ahead to how it ultimately impacts long term strategies and goals for the business, as well as impact customer perception of the overall experience.

Confusion arises when defining the two, but tactics are the immediate responses or activities that revolve around assessing and quickly fixing problems in the now.  They are the critical actions needed in the short term to achieve the long-term goals and results.

Strategy, on the other hand, defines your organizations long-term goals, insuring they are in line with overall business plans and objectives.  Many companies have long term goals, but get hung up in the day-to-day survival tactics required.

As you focus on the summer busy season ahead, and look to grow your business this year, here are five strategies to help adjust from the day-to-day survival required of the coming shipping craze to a more strategic period of growth in your company’s fulfillment strategies.

Top 5 Fulfillment Strategies

  • Make Inbound Supply Chain More Efficient

Receiving materials or products on time is critical to be ready to ship to customers who have purchased your products.  Take time to assess your vendors over the past year and recognize those who had timely deliveries and helped you to meet your goals, and have the tough conversations with those who were not as reliable.

  • Lower Shipping Costs & Delivery Time

Covid required an overnight shift from eCommerce businesses shipping pallets to larger retailers to now needing inventory on hand to dropship directly to individual customers around the world.  Customers expect quick delivery when working with larger retailers and the more reliable your business is, the better the reviews and the more likely you are to have repurchases or new purchases.

 

It is also critical to analyze this past years’ trends in shipping volume so that you can negotiate better rates based on volume for the year ahead.

  • Increase Warehouse Efficiency

Space:  Using space efficiently through the layout of the warehouse, levels of inventory and packing stations will assist your team in fulfilling additional orders. 

 

Paperwork: Increasing accuracy and decreasing processing time with the paperwork is challenging to do manually after surpassing a certain volume.  Automation allows your team to utilize simple technology through barcodes, so that you can monitor processes like receiving, inventory levels, shipping and many more through a simple scan of a barcode. 

 

Orders: Increase the number of picked orders per day through more efficient processes in the warehouse.  Automation will help with this and drastically reduce errors.

  • Consider Internal vs. Third Party Fulfillment

Can you achieve faster delivery with multiple distribution centers or does it make sense to look into the cost-effective model of 3PL?  Long term success strategies include multiple models and can be achieved in house if this aligns with your processes and goals.  

  • Select & Implement a New Information System

Many ecommerce businesses exhaust themselves working to make things as efficient as possible for the least amount of money possible.  Unfortunately, there’s only so much work we can do manually or with the systems we already have.  Efficient technology reduces errors drastically and allows employees to do more in less time, allowing the business to grow and provide additional products to new consumers. 

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in todays’ rapidly transforming retail world.  

As your eCommerce business looks to optimize fulfillment processes, OPAL is here to assist you in each of the strategies above.

To learn more about how to make your eCommerce business scalable with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Order Processing in Only 8 Seconds with OPAL Changed Ken’s Furniture Business

Order Processing in Only 8 Seconds with OPAL Changed Ken’s Furniture Business

As the retail landscape and consumer expectations continue to shift towards more online shopping, your retail partners will continue to shift and expect more and more out of suppliers to remain competitive.

Due to the pandemic, eCommerce has surpassed levels not expected until 2025, and many believe will bring in over $843 billion in sales this year.

With the constant push for suppliers and retailers to grow, where can you adjust processes and become more efficient?

Meet Ken, Supplier of Home Furniture and OPAL Fanatic

Prior to OPAL, his team manually entered all purchase orders by hand into their Accounting System, as well as all FedEx small parcel labels and Bill of Ladings for LTL shipments, which was not only labor intensive but resulted in numerous mistakes, errors and return shipments.

Why Was OPAL a Good Fit for You?

OPAL provided a solution where EDI partner orders can be automatically imported into our system eliminating manual entry. Also, we were able to automatically create and print shipping labels with pre-set rules that made our shipping process much faster. Training for OPAL was under an hour and operating the entire procedure is very simple which made it easy for us to train our employees.

What Results Have You Achieved with OPAL?

Since we started OPAL for our automated processes for order entry and label creation, we were able to focus on the core of the business and the fulfillment processes. Our resources that we have allocated for order entry and shipping label creation opened up for us to use them in other areas. Our trading partners quickly saw the capacity increase in our fulfillment process and we were able to secure a larger number of orders.

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Considering OPAL?

I would highly recommend OPAL to any company who wants to create an automated procedure for order entry and label creation. OPAL support is timely and responsive. Their solutions make sense and can be tailored for many needs that come up during the process. I’m extremely happy with the transition to OPAL because it enabled for me to find the time on focusing other parts of the business.

Process an Order in Under 8 Seconds!

Order processing with time constrains and increased volume can be your business’s weakness if handled manually (or semi-automatically) or your strength when completely automated. With OPAL, automation means your backend processing is complete in less than 8 seconds and all that is left to do is pick, pack and ship the product to the customer! To learn more about the benefits of order processing, read our most recent blog here.

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in todays’ rapidly transforming retail world.

With OPAL, your order processing will allow you to not only reach additional customers to sell more product, but you will build trust and prove dependability with your many sales channels.

To learn more about how OPAL can help your business simplify your order processing, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Best Practices for Order Management as We Return to Consumerism of the Roaring 20s

Best Practices for Order Management as We Return to Consumerism of the Roaring 20s

From the initial customer order to fulfillment and post-sale communications, each piece of the order management process is proving to be critical as eCommerce continues to grow rapidly in 2021. 

 

With the vaccine becoming more readily available, Americans are shifting from a sentiment of hesitancy to hope and a return to a more normal lifestyle.  Retailers and suppliers are preparing for what some are calling the “Second Age of Roaring ‘20s Consumerism”. It’s tempting to ask if history will repeat itself and wonder if the 2020s roar and consumerism surges in the same way it did after the Spanish Influenza pandemic in the 1920s.

 

As consumers are eager to get out of the house and enjoy outdoor activities and travel again, here are a few best practices to help better prepare your ecommerce business for this ongoing rush as consumers resume their everyday lives.

 

Receiving & Processing Orders

  • As you receive orders from multiple sales channels, you will need an automated process to consolidate orders and automatically adjust inventory levels.  This will reduce the error of over or underselling inventory and build trust with your sales channels.

 

  • Order processes will depend on how and where you store your inventory, whether you’re storing it in your own warehouse or partnering with a 3PL.  Stay consistent to reduce the chance of human errors.

 

Order Fulfillment & Post Sales Practices

  • Increased accuracy with picking, packing and shipping starts with organized inventory that have been assigned SKUs to make it easy to differentiate and then to assign a barcode to each SKU to reduce human errors in the picking process.  By checking the order sheet’s barcode against the barcodes on items in your warehouse, this reduces both the amount of time to collect the ordered item and the chances of sending the incorrect product to the consumer.

 

  • Multiple points of quality control throughout the process help to reduce the chance that consumers are shipped incorrect products and quantities.  Many retailers and suppliers utilize the packing process as the second verification point for quality control.

 

Automation through Software Solutions

  • Automating your processes with a software solution may seem daunting, but this frees up manpower / time and reduces the risk of human errors, allowing your business to grow as demand for your product line continues to increase.

 

  • Inventory management across multiple sales channels in real-time is key when retailers look to include a new supplier. As discussed earlier in order processing, when working with several sales channels, it’s critical to automate for accurate and timely representation of inventory for consumers. Retailers and their brand have communicated a standard of quality and being able to provide the product to the consumer in a quick and timely manner is part of this expected customer journey.

 

  • Simplifying processes through automation allows your eCommerce business to reduce processing time and cost, increase order accuracy and the number of daily shipments per person without the need to hire and train additional staff.

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  

As your eCommerce business looks to optimize processes for this coming surge of post-pandemic consumerism, OPAL is here to assist you in each of the mentioned best practices so that you can grow your business and meet the demands of consumers and retailers.

To learn more about how to make your eCommerce business scalable with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

From eCommerce Marketplace to Social Commerce – Are you Ready?

From eCommerce Marketplace to Social Commerce – Are you Ready?

This past year saw incredible online shopping growth, due primarily to the pandemic and people not wanting or able to physically shop in store fronts, requiring suppliers globally to step up and provide products in a way many were not accustomed to provide.

Suppliers are accustomed to providing products directly to retailers with pallet shipping.  However, with increased demand and the expectation of timely delivery, suppliers have become much more efficient at drop shipping directly to consumers in this past year.  Efficiencies of this scale require software automation with products like OPAL to manage the backend order processing and shipping so that your team can keep up with the ever-increasing pace of products ordered.

With the surge of online shopping for household goods and holiday gifts, many delivery companies also saw incredible growth, but UPS reported record revenue in the last 3 months of 2020. Their CEO, Carole Tome, believes this to be the new normal, especially with older generations now accustomed to shopping online.

As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, suppliers are now faced with a shift to include social commerce, where consumers want to interact with products and purchase through various social platforms.  

Is your business ready to include this new opportunity for growth?

Drop Ship Packages for Marketplaces

Suppliers made a monumental shift this year– from the simplicity of pallet shipping to the more complex model of drop shipping individual items directly to consumers.  

This required suppliers to automate processes and pivot to a new business model that now focusses on daily shipments to anywhere their marketplace ships and to maintain the backend operations integrity to do it all again tomorrow.

Suppliers are now more prepared than ever to ship to additional customers acquired through social media. Software automation simplifies the backend ordering and shipping so that your team can focus primarily on picking and packing products to ship to consumers. Another important factor is selecting a software that includes EDI, so that profits are not reduced by the increase of individual transaction fees.

Customer Experience Expectations

One of the greatest benefits to shopping online at marketplaces is access to consumer reviews on products.  This feedback is essential for suppliers to know if their product offering is successful, meeting the needs of consumers, and if it is not, then what needs to change.  

Suppliers are also now well accustomed to larger marketplace processes and efficiencies and understanding the importance of a customer’s overall experience – from placing the order, to communication of shipment, to when they actually receive the package, to overall satisfaction of the product itself.  

This knowledge will make it easier to develop your own brand and customer experience as you replicate a similar process for social platforms and shopping.

Social Commerce as an Emerging Trend

The number of social commerce buyers in the US grew roughly 25% in 2020 and is expected grow an addition 12-15% in 2021, meaning suppliers who are not already on the path to pursuing both social commerce and marketplaces are behind.  

Facebook launched Instagram shops in 2020, aimed to directly compete with Amazon by blending eCommerce with the world’s largest social media platform, with the goal to claim a piece of the estimated 30% social commerce market.  

Similar to UPS, Facebook is planning on consumers keeping this new normal of shopping online for products.  It is an efficient platform for product discovery and connecting consumers with suppliers instantaneously. 

However, it is absolutely crucial for suppliers to have solid ordering processing and shipment methods in place.  Over promising and under delivering is the quickest way to earn negative ratings and damage your image online.  

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

As your business looks to grow into this emerging trend on social platforms while maintaining its presence in online marketplaces, automation of all backend processes will be critical for success.

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.

To learn more about how to optimize your eCommerce business with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

How is EDI Still Relevant in 2021?

How is EDI Still Relevant in 2021?

As you review your end of year expenses and prep for taxes – are you noticing higher EDI expenses?  

It’s no wonder so many suppliers are looking for software to help keep EDI expenses under control as many are now expected to dropship to customers on behalf of their sales channels. Increased number of shipments equate to increased EDI expenses, which may be eating up your profits from the increased volume this past year!

 

What is EDI & Why is it Free with OPAL?


Electronic data interchange (EDI) provides a standard method of communicating data between businesses with the purpose of making this data transfer more efficient, accurate and in the correct EDI format.  EDI providers integrate with ERPs and accounting software to process orders between your eCommerce business and your sales channels.  

As business continues to shift away from a few bulk shipments to retailers to many individual shipments of parcels directly to customers, EDI compliance has increased in both importance and cost. Drop shipping can be quite costly when compared to pallet shipping because there are at least four transactions required for every single order – which can add up to as many as five or six transactions.

OPAL connects to all retailers, suppliers and warehouses without the need for third-party document charges, allowing your eCommerce business to focus on how efficiently your team can pick, pack and ship.

Why is EDI Still Around?


According to the interview of Joe Cicman, senior analyst for ecommerce and digital transformation at Forrester Research, EDI accounted for 78.4% — $7 trillion – of all B2B electronic sales.  Even though EDI has been around since the 1960s, it still remains a critical component of business today. 

Communication Between 2 ERPs


EDI is at its core – a file format – that two enterprise resource planning (ERP) and accounting systems use to talk to each other.  It is formatted so that all of the data syncs properly and keeps an accurate representation for both suppliers and sales channels for successful eCommerce.

Adoption of EDI Mandated by Larger Marketplaces


Larger retailers and marketplaces are the front-facing brand with brand standards and expectations that must be upheld by their suppliers.  By mandating EDI compliance as a part of all other expectations, it requires suppliers to be up to par when doing business on this larger scale.

Maintains Integrity of Data


By requiring a standard format and transference of data, it also ensures the integrity of the data for both suppliers and retailers. As huge growth in eCommerce continues, both can trust the data processes in place to provide an accurate representation.

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

As your business looks to lower EDI costs this year and simplify backend ordering and shipping processes, simplify with OPAL and receive unlimited EDI without transaction charges.

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.

To learn more about how to optimize your eCommerce business with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

eCommerce and its Digital Innovation

eCommerce and its Digital Innovation

If this past year taught businesses anything, it’s that staying relevant amidst rapid innovation of new processes and technologies is critical for survival.  Many eCommerce businesses were poised and ready for the rapid growth that the pandemic brought to online marketplaces and its suppliers had already optimized and automated processes or were able to pivot and adjust quickly. 

But not every business can maintain momentum for years at a time. Can your eCommerce business maintain its growth in the Covid surge marketplace of 2021?

 

eCommerce Continues to Grow
In 2020, suppliers had more pressure than ever to keep up with the demand of consumers on a moment’s notice with the announcement of many states enforcing shelter in place mandates.  

Overnight, suppliers were expected to provide everything from luxury food items to furniture and home goods for renovation projects to pet supplies for consumers stuck at home and making changes to their environment. According to Forbes, an estimated growth of 9.5% was blown out of the water by the actual 24% growth rate in 2020. This shift in the digital channel is only expected to grow as 2021 has promises of a vaccine, but with several cities and states under shelter in place orders.

 

Optimization is Critical
Growth is easily achieved through optimization, but knowing what and how to optimize are usually the toughest challenges for an organization to decide.

Simplify through one software solution.

Automation of your order processing and fulfillment needs allows your eCommerce business to keep up with the ever-increasing consumer demands. It also drives labor costs down and increases capacity to fulfill new orders immediately, without the hassle of hiring and training new staff – allowing you to pick, pack and ship!

 

Strengthen relationships with sales channels.

Implementation of a software solution allows you to optimize your business through timely deliveries to consumers, while managing compliant retailer transactions, real-time inventory and shipping documents, and in return serve as a trustworthy and reliable supplier to your sales channels.

Suppliers have more pressure than ever to level up to the brand standards consumers expect when purchasing products from the major marketplaces like Amazon, Target, Wayfair and many others. Optimization keeps eCommerce businesses viable and competitive.

 

Delivery Costs Rapidly Rise
eCommerce rose to the occasion when consumers were in need throughout the shelter in place orders and holiday season in 2020, but at the cost of astronomically higher shipping prices to maintain consumer expectations of two-day shipping with the long list of logistical limitations caused by Covid. 

Many marketplaces are looking for innovative solutions to enhance product delivery to reduce shipping costs, with the end goal of not having to raise prices for consumer. In addition to new shipping methods, many organizations are strengthening their digital presence and simplifying the order process in the hope of reducing errors and better managing the higher purchase volume. 

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

As your business looks to optimize processes and remain relevant, simplify your processes with OPAL.

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.

To learn more about how to optimize your eCommerce business with OPAL, click here!