In today’s ecommerce landscape, businesses must accurately manage inventory and ensure timely deliveries to maintain customer satisfaction and stay ahead of the competition. However, even the most carefully planned supply chains can face disruptions due to unforeseen circumstances. Although frustrating for everyone involved, these challenges can be minimized by using backorder best practices.

Backorders, which occur when orders cannot be immediately fulfilled due to shortages, pose challenges for business managers. By implementing effective backorder best practices, shipping operations can be optimized to reduce disruptions and deliver a positive customer experience.

Let’s explore the best backorder practices in shipping that can help businesses navigate backorder situations and improve their overall operational efficiency.

Understanding Backorders

Before diving into best practices, businesses must have a clear understanding of backorders. Backorders arise when shortages or other reasons prevent the immediate fulfillment of customer orders. Unexpected demand, supplier delays, production issues, or logistical constraints can cause backorders.

Understanding the reasons behind backorders allows businesses to proactively address challenges and implement effective solutions.

Accurate Inventory Management

Accurate inventory management forms the cornerstone of successful backorder handling. Maintaining real-time visibility into inventory levels helps businesses anticipate and prevent shortages. By prioritizing accurate inventory accounting, many stock problems that arise can be mitigated. Implementing the following key practices facilitates effective inventory management:

a. Utilize inventory management software:

Businesses should implement a robust inventory management system to track stock levels, monitor sales trends, and generate accurate reports. Automated alerts and notifications can identify potential stock shortages in advance and help alert businesses to future shortages.

b. Regularly update inventory records:

Frequent stock audits ensure that inventory records align with physical stock levels, minimizing the chances of overselling or inaccurately reflecting available stock.

c. Set safety stock levels:

Businesses must determine best safety stock levels based on historical data, demand forecasts, and supplier lead times. This buffer stock ensures a safety net during unexpected demand spikes or supply chain delays.

d. Implement demand forecasting:

Accurately forecast future demand by utilizing historical sales data, market trends, and customer insights. Informed decisions regarding inventory replenishment can be made, reducing the likelihood of backorders.

Inventory management can be both overwhelming and crucial for a business. For ecommerce founders who juggle multiple responsibilities, it can be a relief to entrust this aspect to experts who not only understand its significance but also specialize in optimizing it for ecommerce businesses.

eHub connects with fulfillment partners and ecommerce businesses to fulfill this need and make it an essential part of their operations. By taking the burden of inventory and warehouse management, eHub transforms it into a streamlined and efficient process. If outsourcing this aspect seems like the logical next move for your business, you can schedule a free consultation with eHub to explore your options.

Efficient Communication with Customers

During backorder situations, clear and timely communication with customers is crucial to effectively manage their expectations. The following practices help businesses maintain open lines of communication:

a. Provide proactive notifications:

Immediately notify customers about backorder situations through email, SMS, or phone calls. Supply accurate estimates of when the item will be available and keep customers updated on any changes.

b. Offer alternative options:

Present customers with alternative products or similar items that can meet their needs. This proactive problem-solving approach increases customer satisfaction.

c. Enable transparent order status tracking:

Provide customers with a user-friendly online portal or tracking system where they can view the status of their backordered items. Regularly update this platform with the latest information to minimize customer inquiries.

d. Deliver personalized customer service:

Train customer service representatives to handle backorder inquiries professionally and empathetically. Promptly respond to customer queries, provide personalized updates, and address their concerns.

Foster Collaborative Supplier Relationships

Strong relationships with suppliers are essential for effective backorder management. Collaborative efforts expedite fulfillment and minimize disruptions. Employ the following strategies to strengthen supplier relationships:

a. Foster open communication channels:

Maintain transparent communication with suppliers to keep them informed about inventory levels, demand forecasts, and any changes in requirements. Regularly share sales data and forecasts to help suppliers plan production and deliveries accurately.

b. Prioritize key suppliers:

Identify critical suppliers and establish strategic partnerships with them. This encourages mutual cooperation and secures priority access to limited stock during high-demand periods.

c. Monitor supplier performance:

Regularly evaluate supplier performance based on metrics such as on-time delivery, quality, and responsiveness. This data-driven approach helps identify areas for improvement and promotes accountability.

d. Develop contingency plans:

Collaborate with suppliers to develop contingency plans for backorder situations. This includes establishing safety stock agreements or alternative sourcing options to mitigate supply chain disruptions.

Final Thoughts

eHub’s expertise excels in this particular area. They not only have the ability to connect you with fulfillment partners who possess these skills, but they can also help you find the perfect fulfillment partner tailored to your specific needs. By entrusting this task to a fulfillment partner whose main focus is optimizing efficiency not just for your business but for all their customers, you gain access to a level of efficiency that surpasses what an ecommerce business can achieve on its own.

Since fulfillment partners have visibility into trends across all their customers, they can quickly apply these trends and establish stronger relationships with suppliers and manufacturers compared to an individual business working independently. By outsourcing this aspect of your business to experts, the learning curve for your ecommerce business is virtually eliminated. Reach out to an eHub representative to chat about what options are best for your business.

Backorders pose significant challenges for shipping operations, but with effective practices in place, businesses can successfully navigate this situation. By implementing accurate inventory management systems, maintaining open communication with customers, and fostering collaborative relationships with suppliers, organizations can minimize disruptions and provide a positive customer experience.

Remember, proactive and transparent communication is key during backorder situations. By incorporating these best practices, businesses can optimize their shipping operations and ensure smooth and efficient fulfillment, even in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

If you would like help finding a fulfillment partner/3PL that specializes in HAZMAT reach out to our Fulfillment Consultants and we can place you with a vetted fulfillment partner.