This is a continuation of our comprehensive article series on order fulfillment. Part 2, Postage and Other Costs is available here.
Order Fulfillment – Process Overview
Once you have a fulfillment center (or centers) chosen, you will want to keep them updated on the progress of your product’s manufacturing and overseas journey to the destination fulfillment warehouses. As the time of fulfillment approaches, you’ll do one “last call” to backers to lock in final addresses, and then send the order list (usually a comma-separated values file) to the fulfillment center to enter into their system. From there, they’ll use your list to pick, pack, and ship your product to your backers!
Some fulfillment centers are able to provide a customer portal, which allows you to see the status of your backer’s orders, including tracking information, etc. Make sure to have a plan with your fulfillment partner when it comes to adding late orders, fixing incorrect addresses, etc. after the final order list has been generated.
Order Fulfillment – Resolving Shipping and Order Issues
A lot of the specifics here will depend on you and the fulfillment company you choose. Still, you’ll want to discuss how they will handle situations like items missing from orders, packages or products damaged in transit, orders that may have gotten lost in the mail, etc.
Okay, so your campaign is over and everyone has their order; great! However, you may still have inventory left over. Do you have a plan for this extra product? If you have a digital storefront or other means of ongoing product sales, you may consider having the fulfillment center hold onto your items and continue to fulfill orders from there. Alternatively, you can have the remaining product shipped back to you (or wherever you’d like).
Hopefully this helps to give a better understanding of the fulfillment process and the costs and considerations involved. If you have any follow-up questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!