Online Order Fulfillment: FAQ’s and Getting Started
Online order fulfillment is a process, but what do you need to know? This guide explains everything to know about online order fulfillment and how to get started.
We live in a day and age where ordering online offers a certain kind of convenience. Who doesn’t love ordering a package and receiving it in two days?
On the other hand, when you order a product, it may not come on time. This leaves you frustrated, and you start to wonder about the delay.
There are specific steps taken during online order fulfillment to ensure that you get your package. Today we’ll be talking about online order fulfillment and its importance in the e-commerce world.
What Is Online Order Fulfillment?
Online order fulfillment is the process of receiving goods that a customer has ordered, packing them, and sending them to the customer. When a person places an order online, it’s up to your business to ensure it gets there as quickly as possible.
The order fulfillment process is not as simple as sending the package off and leaving it at that. These steps are followed to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible.
- Receiving Inventory
Before the order gets to the customer, it’s imperative to have inventory available. The goods are generally in a warehouse and shown on the packing slip that usually comes in the order.
- Inventory Storage
Having an inventory is vital to fulfilling orders online. Without it, it’s impossible to know what’s available to ship to a customer.
To know what products are in storage, most providers use an SKU or a stock-keeping unit number. This lets the company know what products are available.
If a company has the merchandise in stock, then that makes the process a bit simpler. If they don’t, they will outsource the goods to order fulfillment services, who will complete the order.
After receiving the merchandise, it’s time to start packing the order. The products are brought to a packing station so they can be shipped.
Ecommerce businesses use this part to create a memorable unboxing experience for the customers. Using brand images and other materials encourages customers to buy again because of the effort given in this step.
Shipping is an integral part of online order fulfillment because the merchant needs to get the shipment to the customer. They do so by negotiating shipping rates with different couriers like UPS, DHL, or FedEx.
That’s why different shipping rates are available when customers select how quickly they want their package. The type of packaging needed determines the shipping rate given to an order.
- Processing Returns
Even though a customer has received their shipment, order fulfillment doesn’t end there. Sometimes a customer might be unhappy with the product.
Exchanges and refunds fall under order fulfillment, and it’s the business’s job to make sure that you can return the product. It makes the post-buying experience easy for the customer. It entices them to get a new item from the company they originally purchased from.
Types of Online Order Fulfillment
With your new knowledge of the online order fulfillment process, it’s time to talk about the different types of order fulfillment. Orders can be processed in four different ways. Each depends on your business model, your current inventory, and the number of products you ship.
- In-House Order Fulfillment
This type of order fulfillment is when a business uses its employees to complete the process. So the employees will handle picking, storing, packing, and shipping an order.
In-house order fulfillment is used by companies that want to have complete control of their operation. However, once they grow, they may have to move to a different fulfillment strategy.
- Outsourced Order Fulfillment
Outsourced order fulfillment is when a service completes all the order fulfillment steps for a business. So an e-commerce business will partner with a 3PL, or third-party logistics, to handle its operations.
Dropshipping is like outsourced order fulfillment, but the merchant does not have the inventory in stock. Instead, when an order is purchased on their online store, it’s sent to the manufacturer.
The manufacturer handles all of the order fulfillment processes, taking pressure off of the business. It is mainly used for small business order fulfillment.
- Hybrid Fulfillment
Some companies will use a mix of the above methods to create their own online order fulfillment process. If a company makes items in-house, then they’ll handle the fulfillment process. If not, they can use dropshipping or outsourcing to complete the order.
The Importance of Order Fulfillment for eCommerce
Now that you know how to fulfill orders online, you may be asking why order fulfillment is important. The rapid rise of e-commerce sales has increased the demand for packages to get to the consumer as quickly as possible.
Whenever your customer sees their order is shipped, their hearts skip a bit. It makes it feel like a small Christmas. And that’s the feeling most businesses are trying to give to their customers.
The best way to make sure that customers continue buying from your business is by having a successful order fulfillment model. It will keep customers happy and will help your business grow exponentially.
Without a successful order fulfillment strategy, your business will struggle. Think about a bad rating that your business may have received. What did the customer say about the experience?
Think about which process of your order fulfillment strategy may need some work. You may need to find a 3PL that can handle order fulfillment for you. That way, you can focus on enhancing your brand and other parts of your business.
Let Fulfilltopia Take Your Business to the Next Level
At Fulfilltopia, we understand the importance of online order fulfillment for your business. We know that you want to meet the demands of clients in the most effective way possible.
Let us help you. Contact us today and switch to a trustworthy fulfillment service that will take your business to the next level.