What Is E-Commerce Fulfillment? Definition, Processes, and Resources
Thriving e-commerce businesses all have one thing in common: outstanding e-commerce fulfillment. Here’s what you need to know.
The success of any online shop lies in getting e-commerce fulfillment right. It is key to keeping your discerning customer happy, maximizing profits, and minimizing returns.
E-commerce fulfillment centers focus on getting customers’ orders delivered intact and on time. This article goes into detail on what that entails.
What is E-Commerce Fulfillment?
E-commerce fulfillment is the flurry of systematic activity that results in getting goods ordered online to your customer’s doorstep. That is the basic definition from which all processes flow. The processes are systematic to take care of the countless steps that have to be followed in this particular supply chain.
Aside from communicating with the customer as to the status of their order at every stage, steps in part of our supply chain involve:
- processing orders
- order picking
- packing orders
- transporting orders
- documenting receipt of the order.
It makes no sense for every manufacturer or retail outlet to have its own order fulfillment system. First, it would not be cost-effective. Second, it requires a high level of expertise in this area alone.
Attempting to go it alone would place a needless financial burden on your business. Besides, it’s unlikely that your business would derive any cost-saving from the economies of scale.
That’s why 3PL (third-party logistics) companies like Fulfilltopia exist. Fulfilltopia specializes in providing a range of e-commerce fulfillment services that are best explained by watching our company in action in this short video.
You’ll find our charges detailed in the presentation document, too. Getting in touch with us directly for a quotation is the best course of action, though.
How Do Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment Centers Operate?
E-commerce fulfillment centers succeed because of precision e-commerce warehouse management. A well-organized warehouse is the basis of everything else that follows.
Huge advances in warehouse technologies and equipment have led to incredible improvements in warehouse workflow and storage. That includes a scientific approach to streamlined warehouse layout and design.
Our warehouses, based on the eastern half of the United States—thus following demographic demand—store your inventory for later release and distribution to your customers. Although this might sound easy, moving goods in and out of a warehouse can get tricky. Especially when you add demands for speed, efficiency, and accurate documentation into the mix.
Fulfilltopia’s warehouse facilities are adept at:
- Making the most of the available space
- Reducing the handling of items wherever possible
- Ensuring ease of access to goods stored on your behalf
- Achieving a high rotation ratio of inventory
- Maintaining inventory control
Our precision-based warehouse logistics systems allow our clients to store their goods on pallets or shelves. We also have strict company safety standards that comply with national and international requirements.
For Fulfilltopia, occupational health and safety is a priority for employees in its warehouse production departments and elsewhere.
Fullfilltopia makes extensive use of automated warehouse management systems (WMS) that use RFID and barcode technology.
This allows us to maintain an inventory accuracy of 99.95% or higher. Using our fulfillment center services means that what you store with us stays with us until one of your customers needs it shipped to them! Accurate inventory control contributes to the success of your e-commerce operations.
With Fulfilltopia, you can specify restocking levels of all your SKUs (stock-keeping units). Our system will notify you when stock levels are low in our warehouses. This is crucial during peaks in seasonal sales, or during your promotional campaigns when a higher than usual offtake occurs.
Our inventory control is automated and integrated with our warehouse management system. Each time picking occurs for one of your customer’s orders, your inventory data is immediately updated when those goods are despatched from our fulfillment center.
After despatch, we know exactly where your customer’s order is, thanks to our reliable shipment tracking system. More about that later.
How Do We Know When Your Customers Order Something?
Talk to us about integrating your online shopping cart platform ordering with our WMS software to streamline to best effect.
Our head office in Virginia Beach and our other fulfillment centers offer automated integration with your platform, whether ERP software or a straightforward shopping cart.
Switching from another fulfillment center to Fulfilltopia is easy. Why? Because we can integrate with a host of e-commerce platforms, including:
Your integrated online store is our priority. It is the “source,” as it were, from which everything springs. Our consultants can answer all your questions about platform compatibility and customer payment methods at checkout.
Our staff and the technology we use ensure that we provide the smooth order flow your business and customers expect. Not only is the speed of data transfer enhanced, but you can also rest assured that a high level of online security and data integrity is maintained.
Gone are the days of excessive paperwork, mostly misfiled or missing entirely. Our state-of-the-art systems ensure all the necessary information accompanies each order as it journeys from your online shop to the customer’s doorstep.
Our WMS handles the SKU information, an item’s location within the warehouse, date and time of entry and exit, order number, and customer details. We do all this with as little human intervention as possible. The fewer times an item is touched in our warehouse, the cheaper it is all-round—which means we make shipping and distribution savings on your behalf.
Our policy of reducing product touches helps keep energy consumption costs low. Our bespoke forklifts reduce product touches and speed up the workflow.
The People-Friendly Imperative
We are people-friendly when it comes to liaising with the staff at your business who manage your e-commerce operations. We are also people-friendly when communicating with your customers’ tracking queries and managing customer returns.
Our fulfillment centers are people-friendly, too. We are not referring to the great team of people who manage our fulfillment centers, so much as the dedicated training that we give to our forklift operators and other personnel so that they work in the warehouses safely. We seek to avoid accidents because they are costly in terms of the damage to goods and the loss of productivity caused by injury to personnel.
Our fulfillment centers process orders on three shifts, seven days a week. In other words, we are always there for you.
Our records reflect that all orders are processed within one business day or sooner. Half of all orders go out the same day they are received. And we offer same-day processing for expedited consumer shipments.
Resourceful Integration Management
The combination of our human resources and facilities means that Fulfilltopia has all the necessary resources for you to keep your promises to your customers. It also means that we can keep our promises to you because of our dedicated picking, packing, and distributing of your goods to your customers.
Tracking and Access to Your Data
AS our clients, you have around-the-clock access to your data online, thanks to our web-based system. You get real-time information on inventory, shipping and tracking, order management, backorders status, and returns. Reporting is detailed, but can also be in summary form.
Of course, some preparatory work is necessary to make this magic happen. When you set up your account with us, we have to upload your items and offers in the Order Management System. We also have to determine—in consultation with you—every aspect involved in fulfillment center management.
For roughly five hours of labor for every 25 SKUs, we set up:
- Thresholds for reorder points
- Low-stock alerts
- Inventory receipts
- Returns notifications
Also, primary pick locations are assigned in our WMS, including the labeling of bins or containers. Your customized packing slip incorporating your branding is set up. We give you login in credentials so that you can access the system and the necessary training.
Part of the setting up of your account includes establishing internal shipping methods and rules in line with your requirements.
Using the pre-integrated e-commerce platforms mentioned above, we connect your systems to the Nimble middleware application that helps us excel at our job every day. Integration setup and testing takes about three hours and includes:
- Mapping shipping methods from the client system to our WMS
- Testing connectivity
- Setting up the frequency of pulling orders from the client systems and the intervals of writing backorder updates
- Creating test orders to validate order flow
- Confirming that SKUs, offers, and shipping methods pass-through integration
We offer six different levels of integration management. What level you choose depends on the complexity of the service you need and the size of your operations. It is worth speaking to us about this in detail. We will recommend what we know will work best for you.
Account and Inventory Management
In many ways, a fulfillment center such as Fulfilltopia has two responsibilities. The first is to keep your customers satisfied by delivering their orders on time every time. The second is our client-facing responsibility to manage your account and your inventory.
As our client, you get a dedicated account manager who deals with your general inquiries. They also liaise between you and the shipping carrier in cases where packages are undeliverable and provide simple shipping quotes (weight only) as well as special project quotes.
Once your account and integration setup is complete, you gain online access to the licensed Order Management System that Fulfilltopia uses.
Getting granular for a moment, inventory management from the client’s perspective includes receiving information on:
- Backorder management, with the running of a daily backorder cycle to release
orders as soon as stock arrives
- Cycle counts when inventory levels are low
- Restocking primary picking locations when necessary
- Inventory monitoring, usage analysis, and low inventory warnings
- Warehouse consolidation of goods
Our insistence on super-efficient operating systems is well known. It provides ample evidence of how much we value our relationship with our clients.
Branding and More
One great-to-have feature of our service is that you can have bespoke packaging for goods sold through your online store. Fulfilltopia’s system enables you to choose from various branding possibilities available for the packaging and documentation used to ship your goods. Speak to our consultants for details on how to get your logo and branding on the goods we ship for you.
Our services fall into several broad categories—our specialties. They show the type of expertise we have at our disposal:
- E-commerce fulfillment
- Retail fulfillment
- Subscription box fulfillment
- Crowdfunding and flash sales
- FBA Prep Services
While you might follow one type of fulfillment most of the time, you might have a one-off occasion that needs a different category of fulfillment. Or your business might expand, and you need to use the other services we provide.
For example, our subscription box service is a way for you to thanking your new subscription customers, and Fulfilltopia helps you do it!
As always, talk to us about it. You can do this through our friendly humans in the chatbox on our website, or get in touch with your dedicated account manager.
The USA and Beyond
Our resources are by no means confined to our fulfillment centers. Fulfilltopia relies on a well-connected logistics network that focuses on e-commerce fulfillment. We are mindful of the fact that many clients are expanding their customer base to include global customers.
It is no accident that we chose the excellent location of Virginia Beach for our head office. Virginia Beach is a major international logistics hub for road, rail, and sea freight. So, once again, our clients gain leverage from Fullfilltopia’s strategic thinking. It’s what we’re good at, and we’re happy to pass that advantage on to you.
Please contact us or give us a call if you would like to know more about how our order fulfillment centers work or about order fulfillment in general. We’re always ready to help you come on board so that you can experience better delivery performance and e-commerce success!