Understanding the order fulfillment process
How a business manages its eCommerce order fulfillment can make or break the future of its activity. It is an integral part of the overall customer experience and has a big pact on budget, resources, business efficiency, and practically all business processes. For an eCommerce business to maximize its activity, it must establish an effective order fulfillment strategy as early as possible. Whether outsourced to a fulfillment center, third-party logistics provider, or completed in-house, order fulfillment involves a series of steps that begins with receiving inventory and ends with the delivery of the product to the customer. In this article, we will discuss the order fulfillment process, its importance in the eCommerce industry, and the different processes involved in order fulfillment.
What is eCommerce order fulfillment?
ECommerce order fulfillment refers to the entire process of fulfilling an order for online purchases. This process involves a range of activities, from receiving inventory, processing orders, picking and packing products, and shipping orders, to handling returns. ECommerce order fulfillment is a critical aspect of online retail as it determines the quality of the customer experience and its level of business efficiency. eCommerce order fulfillment can be completed in-house or outsourced to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, such as ehouse. When outsourcing your order fulfillment, you leave it to professionals with the necessary technology and expertise to handle inventory and orders effectively. This not only means that you are saving yourself the hassle and headache of finding the right fulfillment strategy for your business, but you will also have more time to focus on what really matters.
How to create an eCommerce fulfillment strategy?
An effective eCommerce fulfillment strategy is crucial for the success of an online business. To develop an effective eCommerce fulfillment strategy, businesses must first identify their target market and the types of products they sell. Once you have this information, you will be able to evaluate your inventory management system, shipping options, and returns management process to ensure you are meeting your customers' needs and demands.
Different processes of order fulfillment:
If you are new to eCommerce or a smaller business with little activity, up until now, you may not have given order fulfillment too much thought. However, to get it done right, it is necessary to understand the entire eCommerce order fulfillment process, from managing inventory to choosing the right packaging and shipping solutions. Although the processes management may vary from business to business, the basic steps should exist among all.
The order fulfillment process can be broken down into the following steps:
- Receiving inventory - This is the first stage of the fulfillment process. As soon as a customer completes a purchase, if the purchased inventory isn’t available on-hand, the fulfillment center needs to receive inventory from the store’s supplier or from the supplier himself. Upon receiving inventory, the company should inspect the merchandise to ensure that it meets its standards and that the correct items were received.
- Order processing - The next step is order processing. Once an order is received, it must be processed and prepared for shipment. This involves identifying the ordered products, packing them, and generating a shipping label. The company may use various tools and software to streamline this process and ensure that it is accurate as possible. This is one of the main advantages of working with a fulfillment center, as they have the necessary technology and skills to perfect this part of the process.
- Picking and packing - After order processing, the next step is picking and packing. This involves the fulfillment center selecting the purchased items from the inventory and packing them for shipment. The goal here is to ensure that the products are packed in a way that will prevent any damage and ensure that they will arrive in one piece in the hands of the buyer. This step is crucial in ensuring that the products are delivered to the customer in good condition and that they are satisfied with their purchase.
- Shipping - Once the products are packed, the next step is shipping. When working with a 3PL provider or fulfillment center, they will choose the best shipping method and carrier to ensure that your products are delivered on time, safely, and cost-effectively. They will also provide the customer with all shipping details and tracking information so they can track the progress of their shipment. This step is essential in ensuring that the customer receives their order as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Handling returns - Finally, last but definitely not least, is handling returns. The eCommerce retailers should have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure that customer satisfaction and minimize losses. This step is crucial in maintaining good customer relations, increasing company loyalty and is critical for a store’s reputation.
To wrap it up, understanding the eCommerce order fulfillment process is essential for the success of any eCommerce business and an absolute must when creating an effective fulfillment strategy. When employing the right fulfillment strategy for your business, you are making sure that your customers' needs are met, offering them a positive customer experience and operating your business effectively. When choosing to work with a third-party logistics provider, you are provided with a range of services that will improve your business’s fulfillment strategy and overall supply chain management. By leaving fulfillment up to the experts, you can put your focus on other important aspects of growing your business, such as delivering a great customer experience and developing an overall successful business strategy.
Fulfillment with ehouse
Ehouse offers logistics services to eCommerce businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our goal is to help businesses attain higher logistical standards that they would otherwise not be able to achieve on their own, whether through warehousing, inventory management or fulfillment operations. One of the main benefits of ehouse is our effective fulfillment process, including and perfecting all of the above stages.
One thing that sets ehouse apart from other fulfillment centers and 3PL providers is our commitment to building a community of eCommerce businesses. With ehouse, businesses will find networking opportunities, connecting with other businesses and learning from each other’s experiences. This sense of community can be incredibly valuable for eCommerce businesses, particularly those just starting out. To learn more about ehouse and to find out how you can invest in the future of your business with our competitive logistics services, get in touch with our logistics experts today.