eCommerce has revolutionised the way people shop, making it possible to buy almost anything from anywhere in the world with just a few clicks. As the eCommerce industry continues to grow rapidly in Southeast Asia, it is essential for online businesses to have an effective order fulfilment strategy in place. With a diverse range of cultures and languages, varying levels of infrastructure and logistics, and a multitude of regulations, navigating the eCommerce landscape in this region can be challenging. However, with the right approach, businesses can achieve success and maximise their potential in this lucrative market. In this blog, we will provide a comprehensive guide to eCommerce order fulfilment to help you understand the process and maximise your efficiency.
- Understand the target markets or regions that your business operates in
As each country has its own unique characteristics and regulations, it is crucial to tailor your order fulfilment strategy to meet the specific needs and requirements of each market. Take Southeast Asia for instance. One of the most significant challenges of operating in Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia is the high logistics costs for cross-border eCommerce. Nonetheless, innovative solutions such as partnering with local delivery companies or leveraging technology to track deliveries can help to overcome these challenges. Lazada has implemented a variety of initiatives to improve its logistics infrastructure, such as building warehouses and partnering with local delivery companies such as Pos Laju and Ninja Van. By doing so, it has been able to offer faster and more reliable delivery services to its customers across the region.
- Optimise your inventory management
The first step in efficient order fulfilment is optimising your inventory management. This involves keeping track of your inventory levels, identifying fast-selling products, and maintaining adequate stock levels. The goal is to avoid stockouts, backorders, and overstocking, which can lead to delays and dissatisfied customers. Using inventory management software can help you stay on top of your inventory and make data-driven decisions to improve your inventory management. ZALORA invested in an Order Management System (OMS) to monitor their inventory movement in and out of distribution centres, delivery fleets, and more. This action was taken after its previous system struggled to cope with the surge in orders during a Jovian TVC campaign. This allows them to achieve scalability in their fulfilment process.
- Choose the right fulfilment method
The next step is to choose the right fulfilment method. There are three primary fulfilment methods: self-fulfilment, third-party fulfilment, and drop shipping. Self-fulfilment entails managing inventory and fulfilling orders in-house. On the other hand, third-party fulfilment entails outsourcing order fulfilment to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Finally, drop shipping involves collaborating with a supplier who fulfils orders on behalf of the business. It is crucial to carefully evaluate each method's advantages and disadvantages and select the one that best suits the specific requirements of your business.
- Streamline your order processing
Streamlining your order processing is critical for efficient order fulfilment. This involves automating your order processing as much as possible, including automating order confirmation emails, tracking numbers, and shipping labels. This can be achieved by integrating your eCommerce platform with your order management and shipping software.
Shopee introduced MyStock to merchants. Not only does Shopee provide real-time inventory management but also streamlines mass order processing, hence allowing merchants to manage order shipment more efficiently, providing greater visibility and control over the order fulfilment process.
To manage 11.11 Mega Sales Day’s massive orders, J&T Express has implemented enhancements to its automated parcel sorting system and broadened its warehouse network by constructing an 82,000-square-foot fulfilment centre in Singapore. In addition, the company has launched the initial phase of its "J&T points" service, enabling merchants to drop off parcels at their convenience and track their progress in real-time.
- Focus on packaging
Packaging plays a critical role in ensuring that your orders arrive safely and in good condition. It is essential to choose the right packaging materials that can protect your products during shipping. This includes selecting the right box size, cushioning materials, and labelling. Invest in high-quality packaging materials and make sure your employees are trained on how to pack and label orders correctly.
As packaging materials like plastic and returns increase carbon footprint, ZALORA invested in eco-friendly packaging that was made from recycled materials and fully recyclable. Customers can now recycle or even reuse this new sustainable flyer packaging while playing a part in saving the planet. They can be used as grocery bags, plant pots, and make-shift bins for recyclables.
This eco-friendly packaging helped to reduce its environmental impact, resonating well with Gen Zs, who are the more environmentally conscious customers. This move has also improved its reputation as a socially responsible business. Additionally, the packaging served as a branding tool. It features ZALORA's logo and colours and helps the company establish a consistent brand identity across all its products.
- Monitor your shipping performance
The final step is to monitor your shipping performance. This involves tracking your shipments and monitoring delivery times and any issues that may arise. It is essential to have a system in place to handle any shipping-related issues promptly. This could include working with your 3PL provider to address any issues or refunds or replacements to customers. Shopee’s order tracking technology allows both sellers and customers to keep track of their order shipments, granting them transparency in delivery times and couriers. With the insights collected, sellers will be able to identify areas for improvement in their logistics network, optimising delivery routes and reducing delivery times.
Fulfilment can make or break a brand
Efficient eCommerce order fulfilment is critical for a successful online business. In Southeast Asia, where diverse cultures, languages, and infrastructures pose unique challenges, businesses must tailor their approach to suit each market's specific requirements. Optimising inventory management, choosing the right fulfilment method, streamlining order processing, focusing on packaging, and monitoring shipping performance are all crucial components of an effective order fulfilment strategy. By implementing these steps, businesses can overcome potential challenges and achieve success in this growing eCommerce market. With the right approach, businesses can maximise their potential and establish a strong foothold in the eCommerce landscape.