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Common fulfillment mistakes to avoid

Common fulfillment mistakes to avoid

Scott Reis

When putting together your warehousing system, it’s essential to make sure that every component is compatible with each other and operating smoothly.

We’ve spoken to some of our partners with expertise in warehousing, fulfilment and shipping to find out some of the most common mistakes people make when setting up their ecommerce supply chain.

Don’t rely too heavily on ‘legacy’ providers

Partnerships Manager of Huboo, Simeon Wynn, points out that some companies who are just starting out sometimes fall into the trap of relying too much on well-established fulfilment providers.

The problem with these ‘legacy’ providers is that, although they’ve been around for a long time, they might not have the most up-to-date technology and could have an older WMS system. Of course, while their experience in the industry would certainly be helpful, it’s worth taking into account that they might not be able to handle your operation if it’s particularly demanding.

On the other hand, while a newer company might not have as much experience under their belt, they could have a much more innovative approach and technology to make themselves stand out. It’s worth looking around and keeping your options open to make sure you’re partnering with the right people to scale your business.

Make sure you have a sufficient amount of delivery options

SmartFreight’s European Channel Manager, Natasha Jones, and Regional Partnerships Manager, Gavin Warwick, also pointed out some common mistakes they see when it comes to shipping.

Some companies lack a wide variety of delivery options, which can be off-putting to some customers. If someone wants a package to be delivered next-day or on a specific date, and there’s only standard delivery available, they might look somewhere else for a similar product.

It’s important to acknowledge that people have different experiences and preferences with delivery options, so make sure you have a broad offering to satisfy as many people as you can.

Don’t place your fulfilment & shipping into the hands of one provider

Both Huboo and SmartFreight raised an important point about segmenting your fulfilment and shipping across different companies instead of relying on just one provider.

Some companies make the mistake of assuming every product can be shipped together, in one single process. However, that can cause some issues.

Certain items could contaminate one another if there’s any problems during shipping. Putting all of your paint in a van with your clothing might not be a great idea due to spillages, for example.

Another factor you should consider when choosing who to ship your stock is the type of customer you’re delivering to. A company which specialises in B2C might have less capacity and experience when it comes to delivering B2B items. 

Open up to multiple channels, countries and carriers

Andrew Norman, Managing Director at ShipStation International said that companies have opportunities to grow by selling on more channels across multiple countries. 

Diversity enables more reach in the market; by limiting the channels you use and countries you trade in, you’re limiting your potential customer base and the opportunity to expand. 

However selling across multiple channels and cross-border distribution does still have its challenges, which can make mistakes common. You need to take into account the different laws and taxes such as duty tariffs and VAT to make sure you’re complying with the local market, maximising your profit and delivering a great customer experience.

Shipstation also stressed that diversity of carriers is essential. Some companies make the mistake of not taking into account that different carriers have their own strengths and weaknesses; some are great at domestic distribution while others specialise in international. 

In addition, they’ll have different services and it's worth thinking about the fastest, cheapest, safest and greenest options for you and your audience and deciding the best carrier to partner with based on their preferences.

The order fulfilment experience can be a point of difference and choice is key to driving a great customer experience that increases your chances of repeat purchases.

Something all of the partners we’ve spoken to agreed on is the need for good integrations. For your operation to run smoothly, you’ll need seamless data connections to make sure orders get fulfilled on time, every time.

That’s where Patchworks comes in. We’ve got a dedicated team ready to help you through every step of integrating your WMS. Get in touch for a free consultation