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How to find the best order fulfillment software for your needs

How to find the best order fulfillment software for your needs

[Updated post from February 9th, 2021]

As e-commerce and retail become increasingly experience-driven, the order fulfillment process is playing a more important role in delivering exceptional brand experiences that foster engagement and loyalty. But to meet the high expectations of always-on consumers, businesses must prioritize efficient, flexible order fulfillment processes that save time and resources.

How? By investing in the right order fulfillment software. From order processing to inventory management and warehouse logistics, a reliable order fulfillment solution optimizes workflows, reduces manual errors, and gives businesses the oversight they need to ensure customer satisfaction with every order.

But what should companies be looking for in their fulfillment software, and how can they ensure that they get the best value from their investment?

What is order fulfillment software?

Order fulfillment software is a technology system designed to streamline the order fulfillment process and provide businesses and 3PLs with more insight into fulfillment operations. An order fulfillment system can increase efficiency by tracking and automating many stages of fulfillment, including order processing, inventory management, warehouse management, and more.

As customer satisfaction increasingly hinges on seamless, interactive brand experiences, retailers and online sellers need to be able to offer responsive and flexible order fulfillment that puts the customer experience front and center. Finding the right order fulfillment software is crucial to these efforts and moving your workflows away from manual processes that decrease visibility.

Why is using order fulfillment software so important for your business?

No matter whether you are fulfilling orders independently or working with a third-party logistics provider, advanced order fulfillment solutions are now essential for brands to optimize fulfillment costs and avoid costly mistakes, such as insufficient inventory levels or parcels being routed to the wring sortation center. These kinds of errors often occur when fulfillment operations are dependent on manual data entry to make updates. Order fulfillment software reduces the likelihood of these kinds of mistakes by providing an all-in-one interface for multiple workflows. This also frees up valuable labor and expertise for more complex fulfillment tasks and customer experience initiatives.

Top 5 features to look for in order fulfillment software solutions

Inventory management capabilities

Businesses must always have enough product in stock to keep pace with customer demand – but not so much that they end up grappling with excess inventory and dead stock. This is a tricky balance to maintain because keeping track of what’s in your warehouse is reliant on accurate inventory data. If your business is still doing manual inventory counts, this can quickly grow out of sync in the face of ongoing returns, shrinkage, and theft.

One of the most biggest benefits of e-commerce fulfillment software is that businesses can manage inventory and monitor inventory levels in an extremely granular way. Real-time inventory management software allows logistics managers to monitor inventory across fulfillment centers and set inventory alerts for popular SKUs, ensuring that customers never face those dreaded ‘out of stock’ signs.

Order management tools

Managing orders from the point of placement to delivery is a vital piece of the puzzle to identify potential issues in the fulfillment and shipping process before they go on to affect an order. If an order has stalled during the picking process or is taking longer than average to be packed, this can be flagged in the system to identify the problem.

Best of all, an advanced order fulfillment solution allows customers to adjust orders even after they’ve been placed. Shoppers may check their bank accounts and experience buyer’s remorse about a specific item. Or they may have fallen madly in love with a certain sweater and decide they want to buy it in additional colors. Being able to make additions after an order has been placed or upgrade shipping methods demonstrates a higher level of customer service and also boosts average order value. This level of adaptability is instrumental in keeping your customer base happy in a dynamic retail market.

Rules-based automation

Every online order is unique and requires a tailored approach to ensure customer satisfaction. However, this is almost impossible to action if orders are being processed and managed manually. Rules-based automation allows retail businesses to set custom criteria for customer orders with certain characteristics, such as containing certain SKUs, shipping to certain addresses, or using a specific shipping method. For example, you may decide to use special custom packaging for orders which contain a newly-released product or include a promotional freebie on all orders for a limited time.

Being able to set up these custom rules in your order fulfillment system means you can communicate these CX initiatives to all of your fulfillment centers in real-time, without needing to notify individual teams across multiple platforms.

Reverse logistics

Efficient, cost-effective returns management is difficult to action without the right fulfillment management software. When a customer wants to return or exchange an order, they expect the brand to action their request quickly. This means that orders must pass seamlessly through return shipping, inspection, and reconditioning so customers can receive their refund within a reasonable timeframe.

An order management system that tracks both outgoing and incoming orders makes it possible to monitor every step of the return process and pass on regular updates. If customers are given a return slip within their order, brands can choose a return shipping method that keeps shipping costs down while removing friction from the customer experience.

Managing multiple warehouse locations

A multi-node fulfillment strategy enables businesses to boost supply chain resiliency and shorten delivery timeframes. But managing multiple warehouses effectively requires an extremely high level of visibility into each location. To avoid stockouts or rising shrinkage, brands need an advanced warehouse management system that can be assessed from any location.

Cloud-based software solutions enable businesses to forecast inventory levels needed at each location and allocate customer orders to the facility with the fastest turnaround time. This kind of advanced order routing means shaving valuable dollars off the cost of fulfillment and shipping, especially if orders can be allocated to distribution centers closest to the end customer.

The power of automated fulfillment

Implementing order fulfillment software into your fulfillment operation enables e-commerce brands and retailers to streamline fulfillment workflows and identify inefficiencies that are increasing running costs. Technology such as automation and real-time visibility unlock powerful CX capabilities, such as custom fulfillment and order adjustment after purchasing.

However, the cost of these investments isn’t always practical for small businesses that lack the economy of scale to truly maximize the benefits of automation or inventory management. This is why outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL who is a technology leader gives you the best of both worlds.

Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash: Order fulfillment software that takes your operation to new heights

Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash is dedicated to helping brands large and small to streamline fulfillment and create better brand experiences. Our Whiplash technology platform ensures that order fulfillment stays scalable, accurate, and flexible, no better how much your order volumes grow.

Set custom order rules. With the power of Whiplash Order Rules, brands can coordinate engaging initiatives to attract and retain customers, from influencer kits to freebie campaigns. Building memorable and consistent brand experiences helps to facilitate much deeper customer engagement with your brand.

Real-time visibility. Our cloud-based software allows you to monitor your outstanding orders or multiple warehouses in just a few clicks, no matter where you are.

Advanced shipping method selection. Our SmartRate selection tool uses your order history to find the optimum balance of cost versus speed in your shipping strategy, so you can meet customer expectations while protecting your bottom line.

Native integrations. Our selection of powerful integrations which include Shopify and eZCom make it easy for your business to expand capabilities as you grow, creating a powerful technology suite to power your business.

But don’t just take our word for it!

“The Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash platform offered us this unique interface where we could see what was happening in the warehouse in real-time. It made us really comfortable to make the switch because we knew that we didn’t need to be close by to monitor what was happening.” Eric Girouard, Founder and CEO of Brunt Workwear.“Whiplash has been the ultimate trump card for Moda Operandi. By setting custom Order Rules for packing and routing, we can make sure that our most valued customers receive the service they expect – every time.” Nikhil Soares, e-commerce Supply Chain and Operations Executive for Moda Operandi.

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