Top tips for rapidly processing eCommerce orders

If you want your eCommerce business to meet customer expectations for fast shipping, look at ways to reduce the amount of time it takes for an online retail order to be picked, packed and given to the package carrier.


Tips for rapidly processing eCommerce orders


As seen in the media last week, Australian retailer The Iconic trialled one hour deliveries.   From Monday May 14 to Saturday  May 19, attendees at the industry-only MBFWA event were able to shop from the fashion retailer’s ‘Designer Edit’ on the website, where they could order what they want and then pick it up from The Iconic’s dedicated concierge hub at Carriageworks, for free, within the hour.

“Faster delivery is something we know our customers want and we’re determined to enable it,” said Patrick Schmidt, CEO.

“At The Iconic, we work hard to continuously build the shopping experience of the future; pushing the boundaries with a one-hour delivery service that could soon become a reality is just one of the ways we’re testing how to make our customers lives easier.”

As consumers expect faster and faster delivery, retailers will need to review and refine their existing fulfilment and shipping processes in order to keep up with the innovators.

The future is exciting for consumers, but will pose greater challenges for Retailers.

So how can you speed up your eCommerce fulfillment without breaking the bank?

Armando Roggio, Practical eCommerce wrote a great article in April 2017, that highlighted some of the ways you can speed up eCommerce orders.

He made some great points which are still valid today.

“Online customers usually want both free shipping and fast delivery.  This was highlighted in May, 2016, in a report by well-known consulting firm AlixPartners, looking at eCommerce shipping expectations for American online shoppers who were or were not members of Amazon Prime.

About a quarter (24 percent) of Amazon Prime members and 15 percent of shoppers who were not Prime members expected online orders with free shipping to take two days or less to arrive, including both the time it takes a merchant to process the order and the time it takes the carrier to transport it.

A majority of the online shoppers surveyed expected free shipments to take five days or less to be delivered, again including not just the transit time but the retailer’s order processing time, too.”

Look at ways to process orders more effectively

  • eCommerce retailers have a few ways to address fast and free shipping and the customer expectations associated with them.
  • Stores might choose different service levels from a carrier, use multiple carriers or use distribution warehouses and fulfilment centres to strategically place products close to likely customers.
  • A mid-sized or larger merchant might try to negotiate special rates with a carrier to offset more expensive shipping methods or use techniques like zone skipping.
  • Ship from store is a great option for multi-site retailers, who can fulfil online orders from the store closest to the customer.

Resellers could simply focus on the part of the shipping process they have the most control over, such as focusing on making the time from when an order is placed until when it leaves the warehouse as short as possible.

Again, this order-processing time is often completely within your business’s control and it can have a significant impact on when an order is delivered.

Here is an example.

Imagine that you have an order come in at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Your warehouse is just closing down for the night, so the order, which is bound for a customer five zones away, isn’t processed until Wednesday. The order takes three days in transit but isn’t delivered until Monday because the carrier you selected does not offer Saturday delivery on ground shipments.

From your customer’s perspective, this order took a week to arrive. If the customer expected the order to arrive in just a couple of days, there was a service failure.

If, however, your warehouse had picked, packed, and dropped the order off with the carrier – or ordered a final pickup by the courier on Tuesday evening – the order would have arrived at your customer’s house on Friday, three days sooner.

Adjusting and Streamlining Order Processing

Carrying this example forward, it is likely that the merchant could have, in fact, shipped this 5:00 p.m. order on Tuesday.

Many carriers will accept package drop-offs until 6:00 p.m. on weeknights. So an eCommerce merchant might schedule warehouse employees (or at least a portion of them) from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. rather than the more traditional 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This way, packing and shipping an order that comes in at 5:00 p.m. on a Tuesday is the norm rather than an exception.

The evening supervisor could make it part of her routine to drop off orders at the local courier drop off point by 6:00 p.m. and then go home. Or, if a retailer, has sufficient volume, that retailer might be able to schedule a 6:00 p.m. pick up each day.

This example may not work for every eCommerce business. But the idea of adjusting some part of an operation or a workflow to make order processing more effective and faster can be applied to just about any step in the order fulfilment process.

Specifically, a retailer might look at how:

  • Orders are passed from the eCommerce platform to the warehouse;
  • Orders are received at the warehouse;
  • Labels, pick lists, and packing slips are printed and distributed;
  • Products are picked;
  • Packing materials are selected and used;
  • How long the packing process takes;
  • Orders are picked up or dropped off with carriers.

Even a small improvement in any of these steps might result in getting an order out of the warehouse and to a customer sooner.”

As new courier services enter the market, and existing ones add faster services to their network, retailers will be given the chance to add more flexible options to checkout for their customers.

Order automation and shipping and tracking software is a great solution for streamlining every step of the dispatch process and reducing order processing times.

With software like StarShipIT, multi channel orders can be brought into one easy dashboard, labels printed, customs docs produced and multiple carriers can be automatically booked.  There are many benefits for a company to move to a SAAS model, as highlighted in this article from eCommerce expert Jason Greenwood.

Online shoppers expect fast eCommerce deliveries, and to stay competitive retailers will need to find ways to meet those expectations.


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