As an online store business owner, offering the best customer experience extends beyond having a great social media presence, email marketing or easily navigated website design. If you don’t have an e-commerce fulfillment strategy that best meets your customer’s expectations in place, you’re not going to build a community of loyal customers.
What is E-commerce Fulfillment?
E-commerce fulfillment refers to the entire process involved in getting an order delivered to a customer. It entails the processing, pickup, packaging and shipping of online orders to the final customer. However, it goes beyond just picking, packing and sending out orders. The best e-commerce fulfillment strategies involve an ordered procedure that results in e-commerce orders getting delivered to the end customer and in return help transform logistics into a revenue driver through improved conversions and increased sales.
The following steps elaborate the individual services and workflows that sum up an e-commerce order fulfillment service.
Steps in E-commerce Fulfillment Services
The order fulfillment process extends through one or more distribution centers and typically includes inventory management, supply chain management, quality control, order processing and customer service in distinct steps.
Order Fulfillment Services
Order fulfillment services are often used interchangeably with e-commerce fulfillment. A fulfillment service refers to the act of picking, packing and getting orders delivered to customers. All e-commerce businesses are responsible for order fulfillment, whether you’re an online business that self-fulfill orders or partners with a fulfillment service provider. Partnering with MacMillan Supply Chain Group helps set your business apart from market competitors. There’s no order fulfillment process without the customer first making a purchase online, afterwards, the items are picked, packed and inspected for damage in the warehouse or fulfillment centers and then sets on their delivery journey.
This is a broad concept of the overall visibility of your customer orders from when they get placed to when they get delivered. It involves receiving, tracking and fulfilling e-commerce orders across sales channels. This helps you monitor each status of any order (such as processing, pending or received, etc.), as well as being aware of when there’s a stockout or a change in customers’ buying patterns and preferences.
Inventory management is overseeing an e-commerce business’ stocked products. It includes receiving inventory, inventory storage and restocking inventory. The most important aspect of inventory management is finding a balance between how much or how little inventory to have on hand to avoid stockouts or backorders and additional costs due to prolonged storage.
The shipping costs and delivery method you offer your customer are dependable on the type of items you’re shipping out (E.g., heavyweight, perishable or highly-valued), the delivery-goods location and destination, the delivery speeds and the technology and resources at your disposal. Small e-commerce businesses may handle their shipments themselves by using the nearest post office or a local FedEx store to deliver the goods. Bigger, more established online retailers will adopt fulfillment companies to enjoy faster and discounted shipping rates for their larger monthly order volume.
Warehouse Management System
Warehousing refers to storing inventory before orders are placed or fulfilled. The goods are safely and securely stored in an orderly manner for easy and quick allocation once orders are placed. Third-party logistics store inventory in their fulfilment center and ship orders to customers directly from there.
This leg of e-commerce fulfillment involves receiving, accessing and restocking returned items unless damaged or malfunctioning. This is also the stage of e-commerce fulfillment that incorporated customer service and support for handling complaints. Depending on the product condition, some e-fulfillment services let returns be sent to the e-commerce business instead of the fulfillment center.
E-commerce fulfillment software is the digitized means by which inventory and order management as well as picking, packing and delivery processes are handled. It is the technology that allows a real-time connection and tracking between e-commerce fulfillment providers and business owners.
International Order Fulfillment
International fulfillment involves the fulfillment of goods and products to customers who live in countries outside of where your e-commerce business is based. The options available for this are either working with a fulfillment company located abroad or shipping orders from your location to other countries. You may wish to start selling in the Greater Toronto Area or offer affordable shipping to customers in Canada. Working with a skilled fulfillment expert can help you easily navigate your international shipping capabilities.
Choosing The Best E-commerce Fulfillment Solution
Sometimes, the line between being able to outsource e-commerce fulfillment to third-party logistics (3PLs) or continuously adopting a self-fulfillment solution can be blurry. But it helps to know the physical and financial costs associated with adopting either e-commerce fulfillment solution.
The Cost of Self-Fulfillment
Other certain insignificant costs come with self-fulfilling orders asides from the shipping costs. And they are easily overlooked until you get stressed out by the scarcity of an essential material needed in your order fulfillment. Examples may include tools and packing supplies, transportation costs and car maintenance, dealing with unhappy customers which may sometimes jeopardize the future business, human error due to lack of integrated technology and so on.
The Cost of third party logistics (3PLs) Fulfillment
The rates of most 3PLs fulfillment differ, but the common costs you’ll come across are for; the acceptance and arrangement of incoming inventory, storage costs per -SKU, shelf or pallet, custom branded packing materials, specially assembled orders (kitting) and delivery. 3PL fulfillment companies offer bulk discounted rates because they work with thousands of e-commerce businesses.
E-Commerce Fulfillment in Toronto
When an e-commerce business hit a certain milestone, it will either partner with 3PL or invest in the infrastructure, pieces of equipment, resources and workforce to oversee order fulfillments itself. However, partnering with a 3PL allows you to make room for investments in other critical business areas like marketing and enhancing your product. Third-party logistics companies provide high-level expertise that let online business drive fulfillment for efficiency and maximum customer satisfaction. If you’d like to work with an e-commerce fulfillment company in the Greater Toronto Area, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at 416-941-2759 or by contacting us here.