While same-day order turnaround combines the convenience of expedited access to products with the simplicity of online ordering, making a pledge to deliver on such a service commitment can come with challenges. Complex processes, warehouse inventory, and inadequate planning can greatly affect your ability to meet this level of service for your customers.
Here's what you need to know to improve same-day shipping, and how to manage inventory efficiently.
Identify the Type of Issue
Fulfilling shipments the same day the order is placed (up until a pre-defined time of the day) can be a daunting task if your systems are taking longer than expected to communicate with one another, whether it be your order entry, fulfillment or carrier/third-party shipping systems. Thus, clear communication between systems and handlers is vital to operational efficiency and improved same-day shipment turnaround. Ensuring this system can also accurately track warehouse inventory is another critical piece of this puzzle. When orders ship as quickly as same-day it's easy for your warehouse inventory numbers to become disorganized. Putting into place effective inventory management strategies can also help combat this problem.
When you're unprepared, anything can go wrong, and shipping internationally provides a strong case. While you may believe that it is as simple as placing a label on a box, shipping a package internationally requires more thought, processes and data. For example, sending packages to international destinations will require specific information on the contents of that box, depending on the requirements of the carrier, customs or customer, and the package's final destination. It is critical that the warehouse inventory packaging is marked with the included contents if it is cleared to ship internationally.
If you lack the information that the carrier requires, that data will need to be entered into the system for all warehouse inventory so that orders can be passed and shipped. This may take some time to complete and hamper meeting deadlines if this isn't taken care of in advance.
Revamp Same-Day Shipping Order Processing
Before committing to same-day order processing, you'll want first to determine if you plan to only ship domestically or wish to expand internationally. If international, it may be best to start small, perhaps to U.S. territories and Canada. By doing this, you initially limit your focus to a small subset of the market, give yourself time to learn the ropes and ensure that your warehouse inventory can sustain the order volume.
Next, regardless of the destination, you'll want to ensure that the communication between your various system is optimized, such that each is relaying the information that the next system needs to handle its function(s). Does your front-end system allow the customer to enter all of the necessary address information so that the package can be delivered?
If shipping internationally, does your host system have the ability to relay the content details to the shipping system to notify the carrier of what is in the package, for customs purposes? If these processes break down, they'll either delay your turnaround time, or the carrier simply won't accept the order for delivery.
Also, ensure your current systems can handle your current volume, as well as an influx of orders. It's always hard to predict if new products will initially take off. However, lacking an efficient system for taking, preparing and processing orders can leave you with packages that won't make it out of the door, regardless of the data you have for it. Taking steps to make your warehouse more efficient, including consolidating/automating existing processes, will allow you to hand far more volume.
Finally, find out what the carrier requires. Are you shipping to P.O. boxes using only one carrier and considering expanding? Consider that some carriers, such as UPS, do not allow you to ship to post office boxes unless you are using some service that allows UPS to combine its service with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Improving your same-day order processing rates involves determining if you have a process issue versus an information issue, and assessing your process efficiency and methods for collecting data. If you're waiting on shipping data from IT, then the problem is an informational issue. By contrast, if you're too short on time to complete the entire process, then it's a process issue.
Identifying the issue helps you know where to focus. You can reevaluate the way you're capturing information and then determine necessary changes and even automate the process, to reduce inefficiencies and improve your same-day shipping processes.