There are different steps in order fulfillment process, which involves not only order placing but also returns and exchanges. The next section deals with the different challenges that are encountered in fulfillment and some possible solutions.
The following are the steps in order placing. Keep in mind that this is about eCommerce sites and not traditional order fulfillment processes.
- Order is placed on eCommerce site.
- Payment for the order is cleared.
- Warehouse receives the order.
- Packing slips get printed
- Pickers pick the product.
- Arrange shipments.
- Packages are shipped to customers.
In the above steps the picker can only pick if the product is available in the warehouse. This brings in the process of inventory management as a precursor for successfully completing the steps off the order place scenario. Arranging the shipments and shipping the products also brings the logistics of shipping and business processes like agreements with the shippers, and insurance against lost product into warehouse management. Some of the organizations have a separate department that deals with loss prevention.
The fulfillment process also has to take care of returns. This process is initiated by the customer when the customer returns the product they received. The following are the steps involved in processing returns:
- Returned package is received in the warehouse.
- The product is returned to its location in the warehouse.
- Initiate payment return process.
- Log the reason for return.
It is imperative that we log the reasons for the return of any product. You will see in the later sections as to why this plays an important role. The reason for returns could be because of “Damaged Package”, “Item Defective”, “Poor Service”, “Poor Quality”, “Not as Expected”, “Undeliverable”, “Wrong Item Sent”.
The exchange process is basically a combination of returns process and order place. The item that was returned goes through the regular returns process and the exchanged item is placed as a new order. It is a business decision as to how the payment will be handled. The most commonly seen method is to use the refunded amount and charge the customer for the difference.