What is Automation in Fulfillment?

What is Automation in Fulfillment?

In most cases, success in eCommerce is directly related to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction directly depends on fulfillment operations that are as streamlined as possible. That said, automation in fulfillment is the key to ensuring that your customers are satisfied. Automated warehouses can be helpful as they completely eliminate the manual handling of orders. In turn, this increases the rate of accuracy with each and every order.

Yes, many third-party fulfillment companies claim to offer order fulfillment automation, however, when you start working with these companies, you might quickly learn that they don’t live up to the claims that they make and can’t deliver on promises.

What is Automation in Fulfillment?

So, what is automated fulfillment and how can it benefit your eCommerce business? Read on to find out!

What is Automated Fulfillment?

Automated order fulfillment refers to fulfillment processes that run completely on autopilot. What does this look like? From the moment a customer places an order, the item(s) will instantly be routed to the appropriate department. Once this is done, the tasks that are related to fulfilling that order, everything from packaging to shipping, will begin.

Automated fulfillment is different than standard fulfillment processes, wherein customer orders are handled manually. Manual handling frequently results in errors. Instead, with automated fulfillment processes in place, you can feel confident knowing that each and every order you receive will be handled accurately and with extreme precision. This not only speeds up the order fulfillment process but also increases customer satisfaction.

What is Automated Micro Fulfillment?

Automated micro fulfillment, on the other hand, refers to the process of fulfillment of products to a smaller fulfillment center that is strategically located – typically within close proximity to the customers.

The inventory is first sent to a warehouse or a redistribution center. From there, the goods are redistributed to a series of micro fulfillment centers. The final leg of the delivery process is often completed by a courier service. Alternatively, customers can drive to a location and pick up their orders themselves.

How does Automated Fulfillment Work?

As with any type of order fulfillment process, automated fulfillment requires the right tools, equipment, and technologies, as well as the right people. While the process is automated, that doesn’t mean that it is completely people-free.

The automated fulfillment process involves the following:

  • A collection of warehouses
  • Equipment that picks and packs
  • Software that manages the management of inventory (warehouse management system)
  • A workforce that is highly skilled in operating all of these elements

The majority of companies aren’t prepared to set up such warehouse and order management systems. This is where a third-party fulfillment business can be helpful.

3PL Fulfillment Services

A 3PL fulfillment service company that specializes in establishing and managing the order fulfillment processes for companies. 3PL fulfillment companies have all of the necessary technologies, infrastructure, and workforce that are needed to properly handle the automated fulfillment process.

By choosing to use a 3PL fulfillment service to automate the fulfillment needs of your e-commerce business, you can focus on more important things. For example, meeting the needs of your customers, developing new products, and growing other areas of your business.

Workflow of the 3PL Automated Fulfillment Process

  1. Set your e-commerce company up with a 3PL fulfillment company’s platform.
  2. The 3PL company starts receiving your inventory in a centralized warehouse or in a collection of warehouses that are located across the nation – or the world.
  3. The inventory is verified and logged into the software that the 3PL uses.
  4. When customers place orders, the software instantly routes the order in real-time to the appropriate department and then the necessary tasks to complete that order are activated.
  5. A collection of employees makes sure that the orders are properly packed and shipped out according to your specific requirements.

Do You Need Automated Fulfillment?

Automated fulfillment can help streamline the order fulfillment process, help satisfy customer expectations, and increase your company’s success. Similar to anything else you would invest in for your company, however, you want to make sure that it is something that you actually need and would be a worthwhile investment.

In order to determine if you would benefit from automated fulfillment, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you having a hard time hiring and retaining a skilled workforce?
  • Are you receiving a lot of customer complaints?
  • Have there been issues with customer orders?
  • Are there expanded shipping options we can offer online shoppers?

MAI Fulfillment | Ecommerce Fulfillment Company Chicago, IL

Warehouse | Cross Docking | Fulfillment | Kitting | Inbound/Outbound Voice | Freight Broker

Established in 1981, MAI is a privately-held 3PL company in Chicago specializing in warehousing, fulfillment, and omnichannel contact services. As an experienced outsourced provider, we provide value-added solutions designed to help companies build and maintain relationships with their customers.

The MAI business model offers clients the efficiency and convenience of dealing with a single accountable resource for a wide range of services. MAI areas of specialization include:

  • Custom B2B and B2C warehouse/fulfillment solutions
  • Omni-channel contact center services
  • Technology support

A wide range of service offerings, strategic problem-solving skills, and experience make MAI a valued partner to a broad range of Fortune 500 companies. “Quality” is more than just a word here – it’s the foundation of how we conduct business and an integral part of the processes and metrics we use to deliver value to our clients every day.

Contact MAI today to learn more!

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