Supply chain and fulfillment are often viewed as the same thing, but there is a difference between the two. A supply chain is the entire system of organizations, vendors, and resources that source produce and supply goods from where it is made to the consumer. On the other hand, order fulfillment is one part of the supply chain process from which a product is picked, stored, packed, and shipped to the consumer. Here are five things to know about supply chain and fulfillment.
Choose the Location of the Warehouse Carefully
Ensure that you prioritize the warehouse location and carefully choose fulfillment and warehouse providers. The providers must meet your shipping and picking requirements to avoid inconveniences. They should also be near your customer base to facilitate quick picking and shipment of products. Additionally, using warehouses close to your supplier can help keep perishable items and food items in ideal conditions.
The location of your warehouse will determine your fulfillment strategy as consumers expect fast and affordable delivery. You may lose customers due to slow shipping with a high price tag. You can optimize your supply chain and fulfillment strategy and enhance customer experience by having fewer shipping zones for your packages. This will help to lower shipping times and costs while meeting customer expectations. For example, you can ship in more urban locations instead of rural areas to cut shipping costs.
You can also choose to ship from various locations close to your customer base to reduce shipping times and logistics costs. This also helps you use ground shipping which is less costly to ship across major regions. You can use various websites to find a warehouse for sale that will suit your needs.
Enhance End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility
End-to-end visibility in the supply chain process refers to tracking the entire process from procurement to shipment across multiple companies and destinations. The order management system should display real-time inventory and fulfillment processes for the suppliers and retailers. Increased visibility also helps to enhance the customer experience and support.
You can use blockchain technology to increase visibility in the supply chain. The technology helps store a lot of information in different places simultaneously securely. It also enhances trust and transparency as everyone in the supply chain is involved and can track the entire process.
Improve Communication with Your Warehouses and Customers
Communication is crucial in supply chain and order fulfillment, especially with outsourced services. Proper communication lines ensure that all your staff is right where they need to be and perform operations efficiently. You also need to constantly communicate with your vendors as they provide you with shipment tracking information and updated order status. Communication with all the supply chain and fulfillment process parties can foster long-term relationships and build trust.
Proper communication enhances coordination and harmony in the supply chain process and reduces errors. It is also the basis of communication and planning, as the quality of communication will affect the quality of decisions being made. In addition, communication can boost employee morale and improve human relations in the industry.
Outsource Order Fulfillment to a Third Party Logistics
Outsourcing order fulfillment to third-party logistics gives you access to more resources. This ensures that your products can be delivered to your consumers faster via a cost-effective method, even with large inventory volumes. You can outsource various tasks such as packing boxes, managing returns, or inventory. These tasks can be too costly or unproductive to handle in-house.
Outsourcing also enables you to automate tasks that take a lot of time and allow you to focus on other aspects of your business with the free time saved. The 3PL you partner with should have a robust infrastructure to handle large volumes and deliver orders accurately. They should also have crucial technology and features to achieve affordable and faster order fulfillment.
Find a Suitable Order Fulfillment Model
The fulfillment method you choose will depend on the size of your business and the scale of your operations. When choosing the appropriate method, consider the technology used, location, packaging needs, sales volume, and customer service.
When finding an order fulfillment provider, you must determine your business goals and requirements. For example, they should optimize your order filling process, increase customer satisfaction and minimize shipping times.