How to Take Charge of Your Inventory
Running an online business involves a lot of tasks and organization skills. First, you’ll need to create the right products and find customers, build a website, and begin shipping orders before providing customer support. You’ll also have to manage a number of other business functions and consider getting a high volume merchant account.
As the business owner, you know that you have lots of time-consuming tasks to complete on time. However, one common problem is order fulfillment. Fulfilling orders is manageable when you have a small business, but as you grow, it will take up more of your time. Here’s how you can take charge of your inventory with self-fulfillment.
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What is Self-Fulfillment?
Fulfilling orders yourself is something that an eCommerce business can do to keep their inventory process in-house and more manageable. You can either fulfill orders from home or invest in a warehouse and fulfillment operation. You can also outsource fulfillment and have a third party fulfill orders for you.
Fulfilling Your Own Orders
Typically, new eCommerce businesses will fulfill the orders themselves when sales are slow, and the business is still finding its feet. At this point, self-fulfillment only takes a few minutes and can save the business money.
Managing Order Fulfillment
Once you decide how you’ll be storing your inventory, you will need to maintain a system that begins the fulfillment process. The fulfillment process consists of:
1. Processing the Order
When someone places an order from your website, you will need to get notified so that there aren’t any time delays in the process. If you are fulfilling orders yourself, you will need an order management strategy to ensure accuracy. While your eCommerce website should be fully equipped to help you manage customers and their orders, you may require something more extensive to help you.
2. Pick Packaging
Using the correct packaging materials will keep you from using the incorrect sized boxes and damaging items. It will also help you avoid overpaying for shipping, which can become an ongoing problem if you pack your items incorrectly.
3. Packing the Order
When you’re fulfilling orders yourself, you will have to have the items available, verify the correct products that were ordered from your customer, and pack the items, including any packaging slips, or inserts.
Remember, the way you package your items will have an impact on the customer experience. No one wants to open up their package to find damaged or poorly-packaged items.
4. Label and Ship the Order
If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, you can expect to make trips to the post office or UPS store frequently to send out the boxes you’ve packed. Once your business grows, you can schedule pickups at an additional cost.
After you’ve dropped off the package, there’s only one thing left to do: provide a tracking number for your customers. This should include estimated arrival dates and updates.