As a new and growing eCommerce fulfilment company, we at 3PLWOW ltd work with startup companies and on going businesses that are new to order fulfilment, and occasionally aren’t too familiar with how it actually works
So, here we are with this page to give you as much information as we can “What is Order Fulfilment?,”
Lets start with 2 definitions:
Basically, Order fulfilment is defined as the steps involved in receiving, processing and delivering orders to your customers
A fulfillment company is defined as a third-party company that provides these order fulfilment steps on behalf of your company
The general definitions can apply to many types of orders, from large business orders which may be to consumers or other businesses (B2C or B2B)
Because we’re an Internet / eCommerce fulfilment company, we’ll talk in particular about eCommerce order fulfilment, which we’ll more specifically define as the steps involved in receiving, processing and delivering online orders to your customers
To help better understand exactly what eCommerce order fulfilment is, let’s walk through the different steps involved and lets start with receiving
Whether you outsource your order fulfilment to a company like 3PLWOW ltd, or you choose to do it in-house, receiving inventory from your manufacturers or suppliers is the first step toward getting orders to your end customers.
Here are the typical things that need to be done
- Count each item to ensure the actual number of items matches the number of items ordered from the supplier(s)
- Inspect the inventory to see if any items have been damaged
- Add SKUs to warehouse management software in order to keep track of the location, counts and number of sales of each of your items
- Apply SKU or bar code labels if they do not already have them
- Stock may also have to be kitted (Put together with other items to make a kit)
Once inventory has been received, counted, inspected, labeled, and added to your warehouse management software, it is time for it to be stored/shelved
Proper inventory storage with locations is one of the most important aspects of maximizing the speed and accuracy of your order fulfilment operations
Each SKU is often designated an individual storage bin to allow for faster, more efficient order processing. Typically only a portion of inventory is placed in bins, with overflow storage residing in a separate area of the warehouse. “Hot SKUs,” meaning those that sell the most often, should be placed closer to order packing stations, which may involve the occasional reorganisation of bins, something that software can assist with.
So now youve inspected your inventory, sorted and placed on shelves in the warehouse. Next comes order processing
The first step in processing an order is receiving that order. Once an order is placed online by a customer, there are a number of ways for eCommerce sellers to get that order to our fulfilment warehouse. The most ideal way is by integrating fulfillment software with your shopping cart to allow orders to be automatically received by us. or you can simply send us a CSV spreadsheet whenever you like
Once the order has been received by us, the individual items that make up that order are then picked off the shelves by our staff and transported to an order packing station. The packing station will go through a series of quality control checks, determine the best packaging materials, scan items, add packing slips and any inserts, seal the box, and then move it to the shipping station.
There are a variety of methods and technologies involved with picking and packing orders, and what works for one seller may not work for another. This is one of the main reasons eCommerce merchants decide to outsource their order fulfilment, as they simply don’t have the in-house experience, expertise or technology to maximize order processing efficiencies.
After an order has been picked and packed, it is moved to a shipping station to prep it for delivery to the end customer
It is the responsibility of the shipping station to weigh the package and determine the best ship method for the order. While some online sellers have a small handful of products that require basic delivery from just one carrier, such as Royal mail, other sellers have orders that come in all shapes and sizes with specific requirements that are sent to customers domestically and internationally, which means shipping becomes much more complex.
It is also the responsibility of the ship station to update the status of an order so sellers know when those orders have been shipped, and so that those sellers and their customers can track the order to the point of delivery
When answering the question, “What is Order Fulfilment?,” it’s important not to forget about returns
For online buyers, the ability to easily return purchased items is an important part of the buying decision. For online sellers, the ability to effectively handle those returns is critical to their fulfilment operations, and to their overall businesses
Online sellers should establish both an internal and external returns policy. An external policy should be listed on your website and make clear to customers how and where to send returns, while an internal policy should make clear to your staff or fulfilment provider how returns will be handled once they arrive back at the warehouse
While the five steps above have been explained at a basic level, each involves numerous intricacies that often need to be tailored for each individual business, and even for different types of orders. So if you’re ever asked, “What is Order Fulfilment?,” it’s probably easiest to just give the basic definition at the top!
If you’re an eCommerce seller in need of affordable order fulfilment for your business, let us know, we’d love to chat.
We connect easily with your shopping cart or wherever you sell
We integrate with most online storefronts, marketplaces, and shopping carts (and we’re adding more all the time).
Cant see your scrt? We will probably do it, just contact us.