eCommerce Fulfillment Guide

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The process of fulfilling eCommerce orders is not a one-time affair. It’s something that must be done in order to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more. But it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, which is where eCommerce fulfillment services come in.

These are companies who specialize in helping online sellers get their products delivered on time, every time. With the constant increase of competition among online stores, you need an edge over other retailers to stay ahead of the game. And that edge can come from using fulfillment services to make sure that all your shipments go smoothly and with little hassle on your end!

eCommerce fulfillment warehouse with workers

Fulfillment Services for Online Retailers: Everything You Need to Know

Before we jump in, it’s important to understand exactly what fulfillment services are. Essentially, they are 3PL (third-party logistics) companies that specialize in logistics and the transportation of goods. They take over your warehousing process (distribution centers), order-packing (packaging), and even shipping (fulfillment).

As an eCommerce retailer, you can use this service in a number of ways. Firstly, it is perfect for getting your products out on time and with no fuss. Secondly, it’s ideal if you need to test the waters by starting slow and don’t want to take the burden of fulfilling all your orders by yourself. Last but not least, if you want to expand your business rapidly and are looking for extra help with shipping, this is a useful option to gain an advantage over others in your industry.

Although this isn’t something that needs to be done right away, it’s better to start considering eCommerce fulfillment services in advance. If you know that your business will only grow larger and larger, the earlier you get it sorted out, the better.

Further Reading Best eCommerce CMS

What is eCommerce Order Fulfillment?

eCommerce Order Fulfillment is a service that provides a way for retailers to have their orders delivered to buyers. It usually involves the tasks of receiving, storing, modifying and selecting orders for shipping, packing items into boxes, attaching shipping labels to the box and arranging delivery of the package.

Stages of eCommerce Order Fulfillment

Receiving goods and inventory management – An order fulfillment service provider will receive goods from a retailer’s warehouse and take responsibility for inventory management until the goods are sold. They also do reverse pick-up, which means they will deliver products to retailers.

Storage of goods – The order fulfillment company stores the product where you want them to until it is ready to ship out upon being sold.

Picking, packaging and shipping products – Products are picked from the warehouse, packaged by the eCommerce fulfillment company, and delivered to buyers’ addresses.

Returns handling – Orders that have been sent out are returned to the order fulfillment company.

The Most Popular eCommerce Fulfillment Choices for Online Retailers

Dropshipping – In dropshipping, the retailer never has to handle inventory or shipments. An order is sent from a store to a dropship company that then takes care of processing it. The customer receives goods directly from the dropshipper.

Full-Service eCommerce Fulfillment  – This is where the retailer owns the inventory, but an eCommerce fulfillment company handles all order processing and shipping on their behalf.

3PL Fulfillment – 3PL stands for third-party logistics. In this model, a 3PL provider will pick, pack and ship products according to a retailer’s instructions.

Managed Fulfillment – In a managed fulfillment model, the retailer manages their own product inventory and forwards orders to a fulfillment provider. Fulfillment providers will then pick, pack and ship products from retailers’ stores.

What to Look for when outsourcing your eCommerce Order Fulfillment?

There are many decisions to make when outsourcing your eCommerce order fulfillment. Here’s what you need to look for:

– Shipping. It is perhaps the most important part of an eCommerce fulfillment service for eCommerce retailers.

– Quality control. It is another important feature when outsourcing your order fulfillment company.

– Transparency. It is also vital so that you can effectively manage your business.

– Reliability. It should always be a top priority when outsourcing for eCommerce order fulfillment services.

– Operating hours and location. It is another factor when choosing your order fulfillment services.

– Providers that offer flexibility. An eCommerce fulfillment service must also offer flexibility for eCommerce retailers to work with.

– Providers that can handle complex orders. You should consider outsourcing providers that can handle complex orders or complex products. It’s important that they are able to provide accurate rates and costs.

Top 6 Benefits of Fulfillment Centers

#1 Saves time

Fulfillment services take care of your warehousing, packaging and shipping needs so all you need to do is pack your products and send them over to shipping.

Since this entire process is done by third-party companies, you save time which can be used for other things like marketing your products. Also, because of the advanced infrastructure they possess, large retailers are able to achieve much lower order fulfillment times than smaller businesses with in-house warehouses.

#2 Better customer service

You can hire a dedicated team who will handle all your customer support queries.

Fulfillment services have well-trained staff who are able to provide better support and faster resolutions to your customers. If you use a third-party warehouse, it’s seen as an extra benefit by the client because their packages arrive in a fraction of the time.

#3 Cost-effective business model

Fulfillment services possess a well-oiled machine when it comes to shipping and inventory management which allows businesses to concentrate on their core competencies.

With third-party warehouses, you can easily increase your number of add-on products without adding more staff in the process. This way your business is more scalable.

#4 Quick scalability

It’s easy to scale up and down with a third-party warehouse because it’s less of upfront investment and ties into existing infrastructure more easily.

If you want to expand your business rapidly, this is the most cost-effective way to do so.

#5 Get access to better technology

When you work with a third-party warehouse, your business gets the benefit of using their advanced warehousing management software which is usually ahead of the curve when compared to what’s available at smaller companies.

You can find out more about their warehouse management software here.

#6 Determine your core competencies

Many people make the mistake of starting a business based on their hobbies and interests.

While this is a good idea in theory, it’s better to focus on the one thing that you’re great at and leave the rest to third-party warehouses. You can then tailor your products according to market demand.

Sum Up: It’s Your Turn

You just learned about eCommerce Order Fulfillment & how it works, the stages involved in the process and the choices available for you, as a retailer. If you are planning to outsource your order fulfillment, remember the factors above when choosing a fulfillment partner.

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Emir E.
Emir E.
I've been working in the digital marketing space since 2012. My main focus is SEO consulting, helping businesses improve their search engine rankings and drive more website traffic.