In today’s world of fast paced e-commerce and logistics customer expect quick delivery times. They are even willing to figure this into their purchasing decision making and where they take their business.
If this aspect of customer service factors into customer decision making it stands to reason that brands and their fulfillment centers can use this as a differentiator, especially given the high competition that exists within the marketplace.
Businesses might wonder how they can meet these types of expectations and thus gain an edge. While there are many factors that we could look at one of the primary processes that can be improved is order cycle time. But what is order cycle time? In this article we’ll explain what this vital process is, the importance of it to your business, and what can be done to improve it.
So, what does order cycle time refer to? Order cycle time involves the average time it takes to ship an order out from the fulfillment center. It is tracked from the time the order is placed to the time it leaves the fulfillment center. Order cycle times do not include the actual shipping time and so is a process that is entirely within the control of the business.
Since customers expect quick delivery a business’ order cycle time is an important KPI to track as part of its overall order fulfillment process. By making it a part of your tracked KPI’s and measuring it effectively you can improve the efficiency of your fulfillment operations.
As a part of your order fulfillment process order cycle time tracking helps to improve not only the time from order placement to shipment but also your fulfillment lead times, warehouse processes, and responsiveness to your customers. The better your order cycle time the better your customer experience becomes.
Longer order cycle times may also be an indication that there may be a problem in your fulfillment process. By tracking this you be able to determine if this involves your picking process due perhaps to the way products are stored in the warehouse. Or perhaps there is a manual aspect when orders are placed by customers, like having to duplicate order information from one system to another before your fulfillment center receives them. Whatever the case maybe your order cycle times can help determine if there are any inefficiencies so that you can then take practical steps to improve.
As we’ve mentioned there are many reasons why your order cycle times may be less than ideal. So, let’s look at ways it can be improved. As we’ve alluded to already your picking process may be negatively affecting your warehouse’s order cycle time. When we referenced product storage this may involve accessibility to the workers, or perhaps storing high demand products far away from each other or packing stations. One of the main reasons picking times increase is due to workers having to cover long distances to fulfill orders. By improving your product storage, you can improve your cycle order time.
Another way to improve order cycle times is by implementing the right technology. Akatia’s WAM WMS for Salesforce is a perfect example. A WMS can help automate order transfer from your online store or other channels directly to your warehouse staff so that they can immediately fulfill on it. In this way there is no unnecessary need to duplicate information manually. In turn this avoids orders falling through the cracks, information being accidentally transcribed with errors, and reduces time.
By introducing a WMS you can also implement proper tracking of your order cycle time through accurate reports. Again, Akatia’s WAM WMS for Salesforce shines as it comes with robust reporting and dashboarding tools. You can thus create reports for your order cycle times and have these displayed and shared on a visual dashboard so that stakeholders are well informed and if changes need to be made, they can be done quickly. Order cycle times are of course susceptible to variables that are constantly changing. Properly tracking your order cycle times should thus be a continued effort which a WMS will help facilitate.
As we can see there are a variety of reasons why you would want to track order cycle times. By tracking them accurately you can improve them so that you can better gauge lead times and meet customer expectations in today’s high paced logistics environment. In doing so you will be able to set yourself up for success by being a business that customers can rely on thus setting yourself apart from the competition.
If you’re looking to transform the way you manage your warehouse and inventory, click the link below to get in contact with us. We’d be happy to speak with you!
Also for more information feel free to take a look at our Salesforce AppExchange listing for more information on WAM, the WMS for Salesforce.