18 October 2023
Arguably the biggest and busiest shopping period, Black Friday is the time many e-commerce businesses make much of their annual profit in a single quarter. While there’s a lot of focus on organising the best deals/promotions and ensuring they’re sufficiently marketed, businesses must also ensure their order fulfillment process won’t buckle under pressure.
What causes order fulfillment issues?
Every business is different but here are some common reasons for order fulfillment related issues:
- Limited data visibility
- Siloed processes caused by legacy systems
- Systems that are difficult to scale as the business grows
- Teams working disparately
How to master order fulfillment for Black Friday
1. Ensure your website can handle the surge in traffic
While robust inventory and order systems are important, they won’t help if customers struggle to access your website to place an order. Research suggests that as much as 70% of all online shopping carts are abandoned, with barriers to order completion including a requirement to create an account, extra costs or an overly complicated checkout process.
So, make sure that your website design and infrastructure can rise to the challenge of seasonal peaks in demand and return to baseline when traffic drops.
2. Have visibility over inventory levels
Customers can quickly become frustrated if their orders are delivered late, they receive the wrong items or their order is out of stock. The likelihood of these situations happening naturally increases during busy periods. That’s why you need to know how much stock you have and where it is.
A warehouse-eCommerce solution integration will help you gain better visibility over inventory. This knowledge can help you prepare stock ahead of time so picking, packing and dispatching orders can be fast, efficient and accurate.
3. Track sales
Can you easily find out how many sales you’re making at any given time, over any period of time? For example, if you’re running a promotion over the Black Friday weekend, can you find out what was the most popular item/range and how this compared to sales pre-promotion?
Analytics software can help you gain access to this level of data. You can use this to inform ongoing and future promotions.
4. Keep customers updated
Even when you have a robust order fulfillment process, things may not always go as planned. It’s important to keep your customers informed, whether that’s providing them with regular updates about the status of their orders or letting them easily reach out to you if they have questions.
For example, in addition to sending order confirmations, tracking details and other updates via email, why not also send them via SMS? SMS open rates sit as high as 98% compared to 20% for email so these updates are less likely to be missed or end up in junk.
Don’t forget to make it easy for customers to reach out to your customer service team too. As well as being able to call, email or engage on live chat, you could offer rich messaging options such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Not only are they convenient and easy to use, but they also allow your customers to talk to you via the same channels they engage with family and friends.
5. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration
It’s not just your customers who you need to keep in the loop. It should also be easy for your teams to speak to each other, working across departments and sharing information.
After all, when customers reach out, it may take more than one person in a team or even multiple teams to resolve the query. All of the teams involved, from sales and customer service to order fulfillment, should be able to collaborate seamlessly to deliver an excellent and consistent customer experience.
A great communications platform is key here – for keeping both customers and your internal teams in constant contact with each other.
So, is there a secret to order fulfillment success?
While there is no singular secret to order fulfillment success, steps like being able to track sales and stock will help. But it’s not just about being able to fulfill orders. You should also keep customers up-to-date with the status of their orders, whether that’s with tracking details and news of potential delays or by providing multiple communication channels for them to reach out if they have queries.
Then there’s the internal side of things. Your teams should be able to easily share and access the information they need to keep customers informed and satisfied. This will help you to provide an outstanding customer experience, even when fulfilling orders becomes challenging.
Are you ready for peak trading season?
While every business aims to boost their customer base and drive sales, order fulfillment can often slow growth down. Particularly when rapid – sometimes unexpected – surges in demand happen. Overnight, your business can go from processing hundreds of orders a day to managing thousands or tens of thousands.
If your order fulfillment process isn’t primed to handle this surge in demand, orders can grind to a halt, complaints may start coming in and your reputation will be negatively impacted. It’s not just about ensuring your orders can be fulfilled within a reasonable timeframe; it’s also about keeping your customers in the loop.
So, if any issues arise, you show that you’re keeping the focus on them, that you value their happiness and will do what it takes to keep them as a customer. This is where mobile messaging channels can play a crucial role, thanks to their near-instantaneous delivery rates and phenomenal open rates.
Want to learn more about mobile messaging and how it can help you meet ever-changing consumer expectations? Check out our resources section or reach out to us.