eCommerce order fulfillment is something that’s getting more and more important by the year, although it’s not necessarily something that many eCommerce businesses think about a regular basis. The truth is, the entire process can quickly can pretty complicated for small business owners to manage on their own; for this reason, many businesses simply outsource their fulfillment distribution and warehousing logistics to a third party service.
But what exactly does the entire process consist of?
For starters, order fulfillment refers to the many steps that are involved in between a customer making a purchase online and actually receiving their items. In many cases, the “customer” is actually another business, making order fulfillment an essential part of B2B transactions.
The first part of the process begins with inventory management. This begins before the customer even makes an order, but it’s important to be on top of your inventory management so that orders can be processed quickly and efficiently. Proper inventory storage involves detailed SKUs which are derived from the frequency of customer purchases and the ability to transfer those items easily upon being ordered.
The next step is order processing, which comes after the customer has placed an order. Many eCommerce order fulfillment services provide clients with software which seamlessly allows orders to be sent directly to the warehouse where the items are stored. After the order is received, the warehouse needs to have an efficient method of finding the product(s), packing each item so that nothing is damaged in the mail (but also ensuring that too many packing materials aren’t wasted), and cataloging each package so that it can be scanned and tracked while en route.
The shipping process is the final step, and it’s actually pretty simple compared to all the planning and organization of the first two steps! The one caveat here, though, is that the customer is finally really in the loop and can see where the items are, how quickly they’re being transported, and when they’re delivered. There are many aspects of the shipping process which the retailer is expected to convey to the customer, even when a third-party shipping service is being used.
The entire eCommerce order fulfillment process can quickly become confusing for a growing business — but luckily, there are plenty of services available to help out every step of the way.