How To Make The Order Fulfilment Process More Efficient

by Matt Bragg on 10th May 2022

In house order fulfilment is where most small businesses start before moving onto outsourced order fulfilment once the order quantity starts to increase. Order fulfilment seems quick and simple on the face of it however you’ll quickly realise it takes longer than you thought and is always the job that’s left to the end of the day. With that in mind, we’ve put together our top 10 ideas, based on our own experience and order fulfilment processes, on how to make the order fulfilment process more efficient.


Reduce Waste

If you’re using branded packaging for your products and your supplier sends them to you in multiple layers of generic packing that you end up disposing of, you’re creating more work for yourself. It’s well worth having a chat with your product supplier to see if they’re able to reduce the amount of packaging while still keeping the products safe in transit.

This will save you from having to unpack the layers of generic packaging and manage the mess it creates, before repacking them in your branded packaging. Other benefits of reducing the generic packaging your items arrive in are:

Reduced shipping costs for you as your products are now lighter and take up less space. This will be noticeable if you order your products in large quantities.

Better for the planet! With less packaging, there’s less waste to go into your bin. Even packaging that can be recycled takes energy to produce and recycle, so less packaging is always kinder to the planet.


Making sure your fulfilment process prioritises accuracy over speed will make the overall fulfilment process much more efficient and will keep your customers happy. Making sure you get the order right the first time means your customers receive the products they ordered and that’s one fewer return you need to manage. Some things you can do to prioritise accuracy are:

Printed labels. Printing your labels rather than handwriting reduces the chance of confusion over the delivery address. When doing this make sure to use water fast inks so the address is legible even if a few raindrops land on it. You can also use documents enclosed packages or cover your label in tape. This is also important if you do decide to handwrite labels.

Double-check details. If you think there might be a mistake with a customer’s delivery address or contact information it’s always good to double-check with them before sending anything out. Your customers will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to check and you’ll save yourself having to send another product out or manage a return.

Minimise Packaging

Minimising the amount of packaging you need for each parcel you send out will save you both time and money. Less packaging means there are fewer steps between picking the product and having it ready to ship. Less packaging also means you have less packaging to store and order, saving you space and money. However, make sure that your products are still well protected as sending a replacement item will cost more time and money than getting it there safely in the first place.


Efficient Use Of Packaging

Efficient use of packaging can make a big difference in making your order fulfilment process much more efficient. Although custom packaging may cost a bit more than generic sized boxes, it can make it much quicker to pack items as you don’t have to spend time filling air gaps in your boxes with packing materials. Reducing the packing material required can also help to offset the cost of the custom-sized packaging.


Create A Fulfilment Strategy & Shipping Policy

Making sure your fulfilment strategy lines up with shipping policy and times is a key way to make your process more efficient. Having a clear shipping policy helps customers to understand when their order will be shipped and the expected delivery time. This will reduce the number of delivery related questions you need to handle and allows you to follow a more efficient fulfilment process such as preparing parcels at the end of the day or first thing in the morning.


Dedicated Fulfilment Space

Depending on the size of your products, the number of orders and the space you have to work with, it can help dedicate a specific room or space for fulfilling all of your orders. This way you can set up the space to make the process more efficient such as a workstation for each step of the process. For example, the first workstation can be where you pack the product into the box, the next section can be for adding packing materials and the final section can be where you add the shipping label and store it ready for a trip to the Post Office.


Talk To Your Parcel Shop

If you’re regularly going to be sending a number of parcels and you take your parcels to a drop of point such as your local shop or the Post Office, it’s well worth having a chat with them. That way you can see if there is anything they can do, or you can do so you can spend as little time as possible dropping off your parcels. This might be as simple as asking when their quietest periods during the day are or coming at a set time every day so they’re expecting you.


Pack Orders As They Come In

If you only get a few orders each day and you stock multiple SKUs then it can be worth packaging them up as they come in. This can help to avoid mistakes as you’re focused on one order at a time, rather than trying to remember which order is in which box and which postage label needs to go where.


Keep Packaging and Product Inventories Up To Date

Keeping an eye on both the stock levels of your products and packaging material will save you a headache down the line. While you know you need to keep product inventories up to date on the platforms you sell on, it can be easy to forget to make sure you have enough packing material to dispatch your orders. By tracking your packaging inventory alongside your product inventory you’ll never be in a situation where you can’t dispatch orders due to a lack of packaging.


Classify Your Inventory

If you’re selling multiple SKUs, for example, you sell a range of t-shirts, jumpers and coats, it’s helpful to group them all together. That way when an order is ready to be dispatched you know exactly where the product is, rather than having to sift through multiple boxes to find the item you need. The same is true for your packing materials, keeping everything organised in its own space means you know where to find the box, packing material and shipping labels.


Time To Improve The Process

By making your order process more efficient it becomes less of a chore and you’ll be able to increase the number of orders you can manage by yourself before moving on to a fulfilment provider such as ourselves. If you think you’re starting to outgrow your own in house fulfilment abilities or you’ve had enough of multiple trips to the Post Office then get in touch with our team of eCommerce fulfilment experts.

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