Retail Distribution Order Fulfillment – What You Need To Know
There are a lot of steps involved with retail distribution and order fulfillment. Here are a few things you should know about retail distribution.
The e-commerce industry is booming and expecting to boom even louder in the coming years. As of 2017, e-commerce in the U.S. alone generated a whopping $409 billion.
And if you think that’s impressive, wait until 2022, when it’s expected for market sales to increase to $638 billion. If this doesn’t give you a reason to jump into the e-commerce industry, then maybe this will.
When you open up an online store, you don’t have to worry about inventory because there are quality order fulfillment services you can use.
- Customized labeling and packing lists
- Dedicated and shared operations
- Reverse logistics including consumer returns management
- EDI compliance
- Cross docking
- E-commerce services (visibility of orders, stock levels, and shipping information)
- Consolidation & breaking bulk
- 3rd party shipping accounts
What is Retail Order Fulfillment
Now, there’s the million dollar question that could potentially turn you into a millionaire (or somewhere close).
What’s great about order fulfillment is that you don’t have to worry about buying or renting out storage space to keep all of your inventory. This can easily run into the thousands of dollars per month as your business grows.
Many startup businesses use e-commerce order fulfillment solutions to jump-start their companies retail order fulfillment. The purpose of retail order fulfillment centers is to receive and distribute the goods customers order from your online store.
In a sense, you can look at them as the middleman. But let’s take a closer look at what this service is all about.
Receiving Goods for Your E-Commerce Website
In order to appease the customer, you need to be able to receive and ship out products to customers fairly quickly. Some businesses decide to do the receiving on their own and then ship it out to customers themselves.
However, when you use a service, they will do the following for you:
- Count all the items to ensure the supplier sent the proper amount
- Inspect the inventory for damages
- Add SKUs to products that don’t already have them
- Add the SKUs to the warehouse management software to keep track of where items are and sales
In some cases, the fulfillment facility will do kitting, which involves the assembly of individual items. They’re then placed inside of ready-to-ship kits or packages.
Providing Storage for Goods So You Don’t Have to
After receiving products from suppliers, the order fulfillment warehouse will count, inspect, label and add the products to their software and then shelve them.
Storing goods properly is key to ensuring speed and accuracy of deliveries. Wading through unorganized packages searching for the right item to ship isn’t feasible in the quick-paced e-commerce industry.
In most cases, each SKU is assigned to a particular storage bin so that order processing is fast and efficient. Only a portion of products is placed inside of bins so they don’t overflow. Then all of the hot commodities sit at the forefront of the warehouse near the packing stations for quicker processing.
Processing Retail Orders for Your E-Commerce Business
Next on the list of services order fulfillment services provide involves the processing of orders. After all of the sorting, the warehouse can proceed with the processing of orders that come in.
This begins once the warehouse receives the order from the online customer. This is why it’s essential to have your shopping cart integrated with fulfillment software so they receive the orders immediately.
However, this isn’t the only option you can use. For instance, you can wait for a batch of orders to come through, then send a batch upload via CSV file. Or you can manually enter the orders into the fulfillment control panel.
After the warehouse receives the orders, they use various methods and technologies to pick and pack the orders. This is what makes this service an optimal choice – most e-commerce businesses lack the technologies to properly process orders in a timely fashion.
Shipping Products Quickly and Efficiently
Efficiency is everything in the world of e-commerce. After all, your customers are looking for quick shipping and an even faster delivery. With the help of an order fulfillment warehouse, you can ensure your orders are packaged and mailed off as quickly as possible.
These facilities have shipping stations that weigh the package and determine the best method for shipping the order. Some require basic deliveries with one carrier. Then there are others that require international shipping, which may be more complex.
The warehouse updates the status of orders so customers know where their packages are in the shipping process. Then they can track their order through the carrier.
Processing Returns for Your Customers
Not every customer will be happy with the products you sell. Whatever the reason for them returning a product, you need to ensure you can handle the process. With fulfillment services, you can ensure the returns process runs smoothly.
The key is to have an internal and external policy in place for online sellers. It’s important to post your external policy on your website so that customers are aware of how your business handles returns.
This should include information on how and where to send returns and by when (30 days, etc). The internal returns policy is between you and the fulfillment provider. This details how the warehouse will handle returns after it reaches them.
The Many Benefits of Using Retail Order Fulfillment Services
If you’re still on the line about using fulfillment providers, then you should look at the various benefits you’ll receive. For instance, you won’t have to purchase rental space for your inventory. Nor will you have to hire a staff to handle the shipping and order processing.
The money you can save by hiring a professional fulfillment center is key to running a successful e-commerce business. Speed and efficiency are what will help your business grow and expand in the years to come.
Just make sure to do your due diligence when choosing a fulfillment center.
At Fulfilltopia, we provide fulfillment services that can handle all of the above and more. We are expanding into global markets, which means your products can do the same.
If you’re interested in learning how we can help make your e-commerce business or startup the best it can be, then contact us today!