July 22, 2022
Welcome to our weekly blog series, “How To Optimize Your Fulfillment Strategy.”
Whether you’re an experienced business owner or just starting out, there’s always room to make improvements to your strategy. Over the next few months, we’ll deep-dive into various aspects of fulfillment and best practices for each one.
In week one, we discussed the importance of syncing your products across multiple storefronts and marketplaces. Today, we’ll cover the types of custom orders that can exist for your e-commerce brand and how to best utilize these.
E-Commerce businesses can provide two types of custom orders: online and in-person.
Online custom orders occur when a business sells products through a platform that is neither a storefront nor a marketplace. Some examples of this include selling through Instagram, Facebook, and other forms of social media. The business will share product offerings through posts on its account. If a customer sees this post and wants to make a purchase, they will then need to message the business owner directly.
For an e-commerce seller without a brick-and-mortar store, in-person custom orders are still possible. Some examples of this include trade shows, farmer’s markets, and festivals. Sellers can bring a certain amount of products from their inventory to sell at these events. Businesses can also take orders from customers and then ship out the items at a later date.
Whether online or in-person, custom orders provide a unique opportunity for sellers to interact one-on-one with customers. When selling on a storefront or marketplace, customers will place orders on their own, and the seller will only be notified once the order has been placed. However, custom orders provide a personalized experience for customers. In interacting with the business owner, they will make a genuine connection with another person. This connection can result in loyal return customers.
In addition to providing a way to connect with customers, custom orders also have the potential to save time and money. Businesses selling items in-person at an event might have to pay a vendor fee. However, in-person purchases may not require shipping fees or packaging, potentially cutting down on costs. If custom orders are being sold through a platform like Instagram or Facebook, there are no storefront fees or listing fees.
Despite these benefits, many business owners are hesitant to offer custom orders. This is because custom orders can be tedious, time-consuming, and overall difficult to maintain.
When providing custom orders online, it can become difficult to verify customer information. These orders also do not immediately translate into a formatted order like on a storefront or marketplace, making it easier to make mistakes during the fulfillment process. For this reason, we recommend organizing all order information in a spreadsheet. If you’re looking to scale your business, spreadsheets can also become a hindrance. To help fulfill orders efficiently, we recommend using a fulfillment management solution.
Meanwhile, for in-person custom orders, businesses can face inventory issues. This is especially common if you are pulling from inventory listed to purchase online to sell at your event. For example, say you take all 30 of a certain item from your online inventory to a farmer’s market. You sell out at the market, but then when you check your online store, you realize you had an order for 10 of that same item come in. Suddenly, you’re double-booked for items that no longer exist, and you’ll have to cancel that order. For this reason, we recommend removing the number of items in stock online while you’re at the event.
While our Soapbox software can connect to many storefronts and marketplaces to help fulfill orders, we also provide a custom orders feature. This feature allows users to create an order from scratch on the platform, including customer information, order information, products, packaging, and billing information. Additionally, our platform verifies this information.
If you attend an in-person event, the Soapbox software allows you to easily remove any inventory from existing storefronts and marketplaces. This is because our software allows for inventory syncing across all storefronts and marketplaces. Once a user adds all of their selling platforms to our software, any updates made to one platform will also be reflected on others.
To learn more about how our software can help you grow your e-commerce brand, create a free account. You can also reach out to us at email@example.com with any software questions.
Check back next Friday, where our next “How To Optimize Your Fulfillment Strategy” post will focus on shipping packaging.