| Lesson 6 || Fulfillment |
| Objective || Describe the business importance of filling e-commerce orders. |
e-commerce Fulfillment Orders
Business risks for ecommerce Fulfillment
Suppose you have a mail order business. Pretend that you have done a great job performing your marketing analysis, and your holiday season orders are twice what you expected. Except for one little problem you cannot fill and/or ship the orders in a timely fashion.
You have scores of unhappy customers now who will NOT be back next holiday season, or ever, for that matter. That scenario pretty
much sums up the business risks for e-commerce when it comes to fulfillment.
When you make your decision to launch an e-commerce site, you hplan for the risks regarding fulfillment.
There are several precautions you can (and should) take:
- Put the back office, and/or the production facility, and/or the warehouse on standby overtime.
- Notify your freight handlers of an expected increase in orders.
- If you depend on just-in-time inventory, notify your suppliers of an expected jump in product demand, and determine how they will handle the peak.
- Line up alternative means of supply in case your suppliers cannot handle the forecasted volume.
Managing your Consumer's Expectations
It is vital to ensure that the consumer's expectations of timely and undamaged delivery are met. As part of the ordering process, you should request the customer's email address and provide the customer with a customer service phone number in case of problems. A tracking number may be generated and sent to the customer to confirm that the shipment is in progress, as is shown in the SlideShow below.
Fluctuating fulfillment Demand
If you decide to expand the product/service list available on your Web site, be cognizant of its potential impact on the back office.
If your marketing department decides to launch an aggressive campaign, in terms of mindshare generation, or reduced pricing, or anything that might temporarily spike traffic, your fulfillment operation must be prepared. Do not limit your analysis of fulfillment demand to the Web site launch or seasonal spikes in demand.
Back Office Integration
From a technical and operational perspective, it is important for business personnel to see if their Web sites have been "integrated" with other back office applications. For example, if your company already uses a reasonable order entry application, in many cases it makes sense to tie that existing system into your B2B or B2C site rather than force them to purchase new software.
Not only does such integration facilitate the distribution of business intelligence and streamline the decision making process across all sales channels, it also provides a consistent picture of demand for inventory and fulfillment. Therefore, line of business personnel involved with e-business development projects should push their technology partners towards integration between fulfillment systems and the Web storefront.
In the next lesson, you will learn the basics of e-commerce payment processing.