Welcome to the Fulfillment Works Blog

At Fulfillment Works, our experience across multiple industries has allowed us to gain valuable insights into the needs of our customers. We pride ourselves on delivering proven solutions for both B2C and B2B clients. This blog allows us to share best practices in logistics and ecommerce. Read on to learn tips for ecommerce sites, fulfillment solutions, and even more about Fulfillment Works. Check back often, or subscribe to our feed for the latest articles.

Tips for Better Picking Accuracy

In a busy fulfillment center, picking efficiency is a crucial element for shipping orders correctly and in a timely manner. Of course, fulfillment management systems, warehouse technology, and other innovations have done a lot to help pickers and reduce human error. However, there are some simple changes you can make to streamline your picking process even further.  Below are some of our favorite low-tech tips for improving picking accuracy and efficiency.

Prominent Inventory IDs

Ensure that your entire inventory has clearly marked, easy to find identification (i.e. part numbers, barcodes, etc.) to reduce picking errors and time spent tracking down the correct products or product variations.

Kitting & Presorting

In kit assembly, or "kitting," you take individual items from your inventory and bundle them together as a unique SKU. The kits are then ready to ship when orders are placed – saving more time compared to picking all the products individually. Another strategy is to presort orders into groups so that orders requiring the same products are filled together – boosting picker efficiency.

Strategic slotting

Make sure that the most frequently ordered products are slotted in a layout that as close as possible to the pick/pack area to minimize travel time as the order picker fills orders. For year-round efficiency, periodically review your slotting assignments to account for changes in customer demand (especially for seasonal items).

Space optimization

As ecommerce businesses gain more customers and add more SKUs to their inventories, some begin to struggle with the physical limitations of their warehouse facilities – negatively impact in the speed and efficiency of your fulfillment operations. Before you reach that point, look for ways you can consolidate inventory, cut excess supplies, and really get the most out of your current warehouse space.

How to Make your Ecommerce Site more Mobile Friendly

The number of users shopping around and completing purchases using smartphones and tablets is bigger than ever. An ecommerce site designed exclusively for desktops, no matter how well done, is no longer a viable strategy in ecommerce. For starters, the user interface for mobile devices (a small screen with touch-based inputs) makes it cumbersome for users to navigate desktop-only sites. This inconvenience alone contributes to increased bounce rates and abandoned carts. In addition, search engines now use “mobile-friendliness” as a factor in deciding how well a website ranks in search results (especially for searches done on a mobile device). In this post, we'll cover the most important changes you can make in order to provide your users with a convenient shopping experience that makes it easy to place an order from anywhere, on any device.

At the basic level, taking an existing desktop site and optimizing it for smartphones and tablets entails using existing sections of content from the desktop site and organizing them in a mobile-friendly layout by leveraging scan-able content (with large-size font for smaller screens), intuitive navigation (think: thumb-friendly), and clear calls to action.
    
Additionally, the conversion paths on your mobile site should be as short as possible. Generally – the fewer steps it takes to buy something online, the higher the chance of conversion from mobile users. Look for ways to declutter your site's navigation, consolidate product categories, streamline checkout forms, etc.

Finally, use A/B testing to test as many elements of your site as you can to determine which variables perform the most successfully. Part of doing well on the mobile front is collecting data and putting it to use on your mobile site. As mobile consumers engage with your ecommerce site, collect data and adjust your strategy accordingly:

  • time spent on a page
  • number of returns to that page
  • average page views before making a purchase

Shifting your site’s focus to mobile will require time and resources. But, as the number of mobile shoppers inevitably grows, redesigning your site for mobile usability now may set you up for greater success in the future.

Customer Experience, Explained

It's common for businesses to obsess over customer satisfaction levels – after all, it's true that happy customers are key to long lasting success in retail and ecommerce. However, it's only part of a larger picture: the customer experience.

A good customer experience comes from consistently meeting the individual's expectations during ALL touchpoints with your business. Things like the user experience of your website, the content you post in your social media channels, your returns policy, customer service interactions, the unboxing experience, and many other factors are all cumulative to the customer experience.

Someone who was able to find and purchase products they wanted from your site, and received them on time, is a satisfied customer. However, that's not a difficult bar for your competition to clear. That's why focusing on the customer experience your company offers is critical for standing out from competitors and earning customer loyalty.

Tips for Handling Backorders

If you want to implement a backordering system on your ecommerce site, communication is key – not just with your inventory managers but with your customers as well.

Before allowing customer to place backorders on your site, you should have a detailed understanding of your inventory management. Keep the lines of communication open and active with your fulfillment team to help determine the volume of backorders you’d be able to manage. Without this foundation, your backorder system could quickly start causing problems.

Once you’ve established that basis for working with backordered inventory, you’ll need to focus on the customer experience. From the shopper’s experience, ordering products that won’t be delivered right away can be risky or inconvenient. You can improve the backorder experience for your customers through informative communication. Be honest with estimated delivery dates and keep customers in the loop regarding delays as they happen. Let them know when you have the product back in stock, when their order is being processed, and when their order has shipped. If you predict another stockout, advise customers to order refills sooner, rather than later.

Using intel supplied by your inventory management team, you’ll be able to manage expectations and be forthcoming on order status to provide your shoppers with a smooth backordering experience.

What you Need to Know about Cart Abandonment

In ecommerce, abandonment rate refers to the difference between the number of initiated transactions and completed transactions. For example, if you had 100 users reach your site's checkout page, but only 30 finalized their orders, you'd have an abandonment rate of 70%. The majority of lost sales in ecommerce can be traced back to cart abandonment. The abandonment rate for individual e-tailers varies, but averages to about 69%.

There are several reasons why a shopper abandons a cart. Aside from all the users who are just window shopping or researching products (which you can't really control), most carts are abandoned due things like:

  • Complicated checkout process
    • Multiple steps and loading screens
    • Info collection forms that are too lengthy or numerous
    • No option for guest checkout
  • New information
    • Prices that aren't revealed until checkout, like taxes or shipping costs
    • Inflexible return policy
    • Inconvenient delivery timing
  • Limited payment options
  • Privacy or security concerns

As you can see, most causes of cart abandonment boil down to simplicity and convenience. Fortunately, there are many features and preventative measures you can implement to reduce abandonment rates and improve your customers' experience.