Improve Your Packaging and Shipping Processes

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Improve Your Packaging and Shipping Processes

Sep 27, 2022
Packaging

During the COVID-19 crisis, supply chain disruption put many companies in unstable positions. Because successful order fulfillment is necessary for both customer satisfaction and retention, some firms suffered losses so great they shut down.

No matter what is going on in the world at large, you must ensure that packaging and shipping processes are functioning properly to keep your customers satisfied — even if disaster strikes. This can be achieved by optimizing your workflow processes.

Optimizing Your Fulfillment Workflow

Optimizing your company's fulfillment workflow provides a clear, detailed plan for packaging and shipping to deal with emergencies and other challenges. Done properly, it improves customer retention, gives you a leg up on your competitors, and saves you money.

Begin by reviewing your company’s current challenges from the customer’s perspective. Take stock of whether or not they have received items in poor condition or incorrect orders. Keep notes of when customers are complaining about late deliveries. You can even survey them to find out if they desire more sustainable options from your company. 

Next, you should be aware of any problems affecting your ability to properly fulfill an order beyond what’s going on in your warehouses. Rising transportation costs, supply chain shortages, and a lack of operators can strain your ability to deliver on your commitments.

Once you’ve worked out your key problems, start setting goals for a more efficient packaging and shipping process. These should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Let's take the example of increasing sustainable packaging. Your goal is to reduce shipping package sizes by 50% (specific, measurable) by eliminating empty space in boxes (attainable, realistic) in six months (time-bound). By working through this process for each of your challenges, you have a blueprint for streamlining fulfillment procedures.

Four Common Fulfillment Issues Resolved by Streamlining

Let’s take a look at four fulfillment issues that you can remedy by streamlining your processes.

Challenge #1: Supply Chain Disasters

While this particular issue may seem out of your hands, it’s important to remember that your competitors may be facing similar issues, just as many did during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. The difference between businesses that failed and those that thrived was how well equipped they were to face unforeseen supply chain disasters.

Creating a backup plan is key to addressing this kind of situation. You should have a list of alternative providers that you can establish professional relationships with. Another option is to build up a stockpile of inventory. Finally, consider revamping your delivery guarantees. It's better for an order to arrive sooner than promised rather than later.

Most importantly, make sure that you are communicating clearly with customers when a crisis occurs. Text, email, and social media are all tools you should use to warn them of issues. Your plan should offer a way to expedite complaints. You may also want to make an offer, such as a discount or reward points to alleviate their stress.

Challenge #2: Frequent Shipping Delays

Complaints about shipping delays are devastating for customer loyalty and retention. Around 60% of customers consider shopping elsewhere in the future if their deliveries aren’t fulfilled within two days of what was promised. Assuming this problem is not part of a national or global issue, address this as soon as you are aware of it.

Determine the cause of these delays. If it's a singular issue, such as a shipping vendor that cannot handle its workload, consider switching to a provider with a more reliable track record.

If your business has its own shipping and delivery systems, optimize your system with business-based technology solutions, such as route management software. This can help you track and schedule drivers and program the shortest routes in real-time, saving time and money.

If the problem is more widespread, you review your processes for shortcomings.

Challenge #3: Confusing or Overwhelming Processes

System inefficiencies creep in when your fulfillment processes become too complicated. For example, too many organizational silos frustrate clients when they need to speak to several departments to get a single answer. And, that can hurt retention.

To solve this challenge, management must review the customer journey. Customers have multiple ways they can access products, services, or information but they need quick, consistent answers to any questions, concerns, or comments that crop up.

All the departments involved in the fulfillment process should follow a simple workflow to respond to queries and problems. This works best when employees in each department are engaged and supportive of the company’s mission and care about making things right for the customer.

Challenge #4: Poor Inventory Management

If you’re not properly managing your inventory, you’re setting up your fulfillment department for failure. Poor inventory management can result in decreased performance and adverse results for your business — including stock shortages, high inventory costs, data errors, expired or obsolete inventory, and, of course, dreaded shipping delays.

Most of these have a singular cause: outdated modes of operation. Spreadsheet organization and manual inventory tracking often mean managers struggle to estimate how much stock to keep on hand. Automated, cloud-based inventory management solutions solve all these problems with real-time data and analytics, reducing both delivery times and costs.

Packaging and shipping processes can be one of the most challenging parts of customer service for fulfillment-based businesses. Examine your existing processes to discover your biggest challenges. By optimizing these processes, you'll save on both time and cost, and that will keep your customers coming back.

Meet The Author:


lukesmith

Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.

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Courtesy of NASE.org
https://www.nase.org/business-help/self-made-nase-blog/self-made/2022/09/27/improve-your-packaging-and-shipping-processes