Order fulfillment is not confined to the warehouse, the available infrastructure and the systems you have in place to ensure hassle free processing, dispatch and shipping. Regardless of what you are selling, where you are storing your entire inventory or in batches, how you are shipping and where to, your organization ought to master the various facets of demand management if you wish to succeed at order fulfillment.
You can hire the best order fulfillment company in the world, one that has the largest infrastructure and the most state of the art technologies facilitating the whole exercise. Yet, you would falter if you don’t have your demand management strategies hitting the right chords. Two elements that would require your unwavering focus are demand sensing and demand shaping.
- Demand sensing is not too daunting a task. It is simply a process to assess when you witness a spike in sales, what times of the year ensure steady sales and when you would experience dwindling sales. You can study the patterns. If they aren’t readily available, then you should identify the patterns and accordingly work on your order fulfillment strategy. The problem today is the multiplatform presence of most companies and selling through myriad channels. From the traditional distributor or wholesales to the affiliate marketing networks, companies are using an unprecedentedly diverse outreach program to facilitate sales. The data from all these sources would have to be compiled and the demand must be sensed, at least the patterns must be established. A company cannot be unsure of when to expect more sales through which portal as that would severely impair the possibility of effective and timely order fulfillment.
- Demand sensing is not confined to seasonal spikes in sales or even the weekly and monthly fluctuations. Demand sensing should be holistic, including a short term or immediate goal and a long term plan. Such kind of demand sensing is not possible without demand shaping. Companies ought to work on strategies that will help shape opinions, influence buyers and to facilitate their decisions in favor of the products or services offered by the company. From promotions to social media engagement, every weapon must be deployed for demand shaping.
Many companies look at order fulfillment as a post sales, back office and solely infrastructural phase of the business cycle. While it is all of those and more, it is also positively and negatively integrated with the other phases of the business cycle. There are rippling consequences whenever something goes awry in any other phase.