Understanding the E-commerce Fulfillment Service
There is no doubt that the global strategy of buying and selling has been taken over by online shopping. There are still issues yet unresolved by many e-shopping platforms, including the cost of shipping and time taken for order delivery. As much as shoppers want to see an improvement in the high price of products, they also, and more importantly, want to see the improved speed at which stores deliver goods to their doorstep.
When fulfillment is accurate and predictable in terms of the time taken for shipping, customers become fulfilled. And businesses must bridge this gap to expand their business, as well as client base and revenue. But this can only happen when you run an organized fulfillment solution.
What is E-commerce Fulfillment?
E-commerce fulfillment is the entire process behind getting orders delivered to a customer after ordering it online. This part of the system includes getting and storing inventory, order process, selecting items, loading boxes, and logistics of products to the shipping destination of the buyer. In a strict sense, e-commerce fulfillment requires three processes: receiving orders, packaging, and shipping.
Products must get onto fulfillment center shelves where they are received, picked, and packaged before they’re shipped to the destination. Order fulfillment is complete only when it gets to the customer. But the most critical question is how long it takes to get delivered completely.
In simple terms, e-commerce fulfillment refers to those services that involve delivering your business products to target customers. As an integral part of business, e-commerce fulfillment is targeted at ensuring that there is no vacuum left in the entire supply chain.
In an ever-competitive business space, the customer is the boss of the supplier. If businesses can’t meet their needs, customers go elsewhere in search of fulfillment. So, doing everything possible to meet the needs and fulfill customer expectations should take topmost priority in the projection of the business owner. E-commerce fulfillment plays the role of a middleman between the customer and the supplier towards a more successful business and fulfilling customer expectations.
Our Fulfillment Process
In a bid to satisfy customers’ needs in terms of shipping cost and quick delivery, e-commerce fulfillment involves a lot of processes and network of services in the entire supply chain. Although there are overlap and interplay of interrelated functions and workflows, each of the services represents a unique aspect and field in the chain process of e-commerce fulfillment.
Whether the e-commerce company employs an in-house approach or outsources its e-commerce fulfillment duty to a fulfillment outfit, the first step in the e-commerce fulfillment chain process is the order fulfillment. This service is essential because it is at this level that the drop shipper or e-commerce fulfillment manager takes a lot of preliminary procedures, including picking, packing, inventory, and shipping of orders. At this level, workflows and individual or group services require that orders are fulfilled after the customer has made an e-purchase order.
Order fulfillment stage takes a five-step approach:
- Order Processing
- Returns Management
The receiving process is a step that must be taken before an order is fulfilled from the online sales channels. If the fulfillment is going to be done in-house, inventory must be ready. Otherwise, outsourced fulfillment service requires that inventory is sent beforehand to the e-commerce fulfillment service provider who will take and receive the order and carry out the fulfillment on your behalf.
The second critical stage after receiving is the warehousing stage, or what is called inventory storage. By this, we mean the stage of organizing, storing, and keeping your products in a secured and dedicated locations and stores. There must be separate locations for each SKU and its products. This is where the fulfillment shelves, bins, or pallets become useful, especially if you’re dealing with larger orders and operations.
Rocket Shippers’ warehouse is located at 1845 Airport Exchange Blvd in Erlanger, KY, and remains one of the most extensive inventory storage facilities in the region. The vision is to site fulfillment centers throughout the country to offer warehousing and inventory storage services to serve customers across various areas of the United States. The cost of transit and shipping for e-commerce businesses are significantly reduced. Rocket Shippers serves all States in the United and many countries across the globe.
Not every company offers that magnanimity and transparent culture. At Rocket Shippers, for example, the client’s bottom line is crucial and takes center stage. Hence, you can keep an eye on your inventory and receive regular and prompt tracking information about your order. With the support of its warehouse and inventory management tool, clients can own a portal where they can monitor exactly how their order is being treated in real-time.
Through this management software, clients can see and join live inventory updates. They also have access to daily operational activities that are being done. The reporting is accurate, and you can visibly see your personal accounting information.
3. Order Processing
The order processing stage requires picking, storing, and packing of goods. Here, the customer makes and submits an order and wait for it to be processed. The processing is carried out by an order fulfillment manager who makes the items ready for shipping.
Shipping labels should be attached to the package; the packing slip can be used to take note of the number of items to be packed and identify the storage locations of the ordered items. Besides, order processing will include the type of packaging includes dunnage, bubble mailers, air-fill, etc.
This is the stage where products are sent to the customer destination. This is done by the merchant who may be the post office, Courier Services, or UPS stores. You’ll have tracking information to share with customers about the deliveries.
5. Returns Management
There are situations where customers may want to return orders. Traditional e-commerce businesses have flexible return and refund policies. So e-commerce fulfillment providers must relate to those policies so they can process the returned products. Sometimes, the items are sent directly to the e-commerce company or fulfillment service provider, who correctly assesses the conditions of the items.
Rocket Shippers operates a return policy that is easy-to-use to all stakeholders in the supply chain, including retailers and customers. The company gives support to high volume returns, helping them with extra services, such as restocking and disposal.
Order management requires a group or individual responsible for taking records in all orders made by the customer. Managing orders require all processes from receiving all orders the customer makes to record and track and fulfill customer orders. In managing orders, individuals must reach out to fulfillment centers and sales channels to integrate all orders into one place before shipping is done.
The e-commerce platforms benefit significantly from this one-place process because a lot can be achieved and tracking along the line. They will be able to track orders individually, process on-hold orders, and track customer’s product preferences, customer and order locations, and customer behaviors. Besides, they will be able to monitor trendy orders, returned orders, damaged goods, order volume increase, mistaken orders, and lots more.
Inventory management is a critical service in the network of workflows involved in e-commerce fulfillment. It consists of the process of monitoring goods that have been stocked for e-commerce business purposes. Inventory managers should track received inventory, ordering, and restocking inventory. They should also carry out inventory forecasting to predict what orders customers may potentially order.
Inventory managers should limit the amount of inventory they have at hand at a particular point in time. This is to reduce the risk of having too many goods in-store that may lead to expired products if not ordered by customers. However, the inventory should not be too little, so you don’t run out of stocks. Not having enough may make you not meet the number of orders by customers. And you can lose customers from there. The way to avoid the too-little or too-much stocks is to regularly take stock of all items left in relation to what customers have made an order for. This will guide how much the warehouse will make an order for storage.
B2B fulfillment refers to the service of helping e-commerce businesses to ship goods to another business. This is also known as wholesale or retail fulfillment. Essentially, fulfillment companies help e-commerce platforms to ship their products to wholesalers or retailers at a reduced price. So, instead of engaging itself in this aspect of business and spending so much, e-commerce companies can hire the e-commerce fulfillment services and outfits to deliver goods to their wholesalers (B2B) and retailers (B2C).
The reason is that e-commerce fulfillment firms ship goods at a reduced price to the wholesale or retail business; they also stay by the retailer or wholesaler all through the process to help them prepare inventory, warehouse, storage facility, plan and strategize on the project. The fulfillment companies work with B2B and B2C networks so products can get directly to wholesalers and retailers.
Additionally, B2B and B2C shipping require EDI compliance, inventory-taking, ample storage space, and direct consumers’ speedy delivery. Also, preparing a large number of products come at additional picking charges and labor cost. Hence, fulfillment companies help both the e-commerce companies and their customers mitigate all these risks. For instance, the Rocket Shippers Startup Fulfilment package offers incredible opportunities for startups and B2C e-commerce companies to grow.
Fulfillment Software Integration
There are fulfillment software and technologies that automate and integrate into the entire fulfillment process. They help e-commerce platforms and online marketplace in several ways to seamlessly manage orders across various sales channels, including picking, packing, shipping, and delivering orders.
Luckily, these technologies help to connect e-commerce businesses and fulfillment companies with customers. They can also deploy these technologies in forecasting, providing tracking information about products, and carrying out an inventory. Rocket Shippers works with a cloud-based Warehouse Management Software called 3PL Central, which is capable of integrating with any EDI or API cart. Through these technologies and in partnership with SPS Commerce, Rocket Shippers is capable of seamlessly integrating with all major retailers.
Subscription Box Fulfillment Service
Subscription Box fulfillment is one of the e-commerce fulfillment services, which helps growing subscription box companies to thrive by providing them with a shipping facility. Offering the customer to ship products from an e-commerce business on a regular and predetermined basis helps them to improve sales, save time and money on shipping, labeling, and kitting.
The cost of running an e-commerce fulfillment service is, most of the time, not cast in stone. The variation and difficulty in calculating the cost can be a result of the fulfillment models, channels of sales, shipping, and, more importantly, the kind of fulfillment services you’re offering.
The thing is that for a company handling their in-house fulfillment stuff, they have a lot of channels that take away money and services they pay for, most of which are not visible. For instance, they will have to pay for the cost of dealing with unsatisfied customers and retail businesses, payment for packing materials (packing tape, air pillows, poly mailers, printers, dunnage, etc.). You’ll also have to put transportation and inefficiency costs into account. What about the opportunity cost of abandoning smaller projects for more significant operations?
What are Fulfillment Centers?
The fulfillment center, otherwise called fulfillment house, refers to the warehouse where the packaging of business orders is carried out. They refer to those facilities where new, incoming, and existing orders received, processed, packaged, and filled.
Many e-commerce and drop shipping platforms have a network of fulfillment centers where c-commerce orders are shipped to the customer’s destination. There’s no doubt fulfillment centers form an integral part of the chain process of the e-commerce business fulfillment plans.
It’s not enough to desire or have fulfillment centers. It’s essential to be strategic about a lot of things when sitting in the fulfillment centers. The footage, location, amenities, and size are crucial factors to consider when sitting in a center. These factors will have a direct impact on the success, scalability, capacity, deliverables, and shipping costs of the business order.
Fulfillment centers form an essential and fundamental aspect of the entire strategy of any e-commerce fulfillment plan. This is because it is at the centers that inventory of orders and goods is taken, stored, and managed. The ultimate goal of setting up the fulfillment centers in the supply chain of orders at the e-commerce fulfillment business is to ensure that products get to the final shoppers, that is, the customers. Apart from making orders get to customers, fulfillment centers fast track the process of shipping these orders in a timely fashion.
Why You Need E-commerce Fulfillment?
For several reasons, you need the services of e-commerce fulfillment. If nothing, you need it to drive revenue and drag more customers into the order and supply net. Also, enhance brand integrity, improve product via customer feedback, reduce shopping cart abandonment, saves cost on ad and promotions, and saves shipping and product production cost. All of these benefits cannot be over-emphasized, especially for businesses that want to achieve their long-term plans and goals.
Ultimately, the bottom line of every business is profit maximization. Aggressive companies don’t want to stop making a profit; they optimize opportunities and strategies that will drive the profit and increase revenue base. This is one area that e-commerce fulfillment comes in. Apart from driving products to match customer’s expectations and fulfill their drive to order more products, it increases sales, which invariably drives revenue and profit.
Increases Order Value
With e-commerce fulfillment service, more real-time customers will be dragged into the order net, helping to expand the average order value of your brand. Businesses must show the capacity to convince customers, and this is only achievable when the products are delivered on time and meet their expectations. Besides, the cost of product shipping must reduce to give customers the confidence to continue with the brand. This is an area e-commerce fulfillment helps brands to attain.
Enhances Brand Integrity
It’s a great piece of relief to see your customer base expand, and the number of your products being shopped for and ordered online skyrocket.
With e-commerce fulfillment plans, one thing you see happen is increased confidence customers want to repose in your brand. That invariably gives them the courage to tell family, colleagues, friends, and e-store neighbors about your brand and product.
Improves Product via Feedback
Customers reviews and feedback are one of the most significant means of selling your product; these can also bring down your sales with their review and feedback. When you get great feedback via e-commerce fulfillment services, your product can be improved upon to serve your customers further.
Increase Delivery Time
Unlike some other means of shipping, which take a longer time, delivering orders through the Rocket Shippers E-commerce Fulfillment Process is very fast and seamless. Customers don’t have to wait endlessly before they receive their orders. The amount of time it takes to pick and pack at our fulfillment center is very quick.
Reduces Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shoppers won’t see the need to stick to a drop shipper or e-store if the shipping cost is high or delivery time is rather too slow. They will prefer to abandon goods on their existing shopping cart and perhaps add new products which they feel will be shipped at a lower cost and with the speed of light. Due to its increased guarantee of reduced shipping cost and fast delivery, Rocket Shippers E-commerce Fulfillment Solution has become an organizations’ best tools to achieve target sales.
Models of E-commerce Fulfillment
In the e-commerce fulfillment world today, several channels are available for grasp through which order fulfillment can be achieved seamlessly. E-commerce businesses, sellers, and customers are not limited by space, time, or variety. They can explore different models to fulfill their order. Although it depends on one’s budget and preference, all of these models ensure efficiency and timeliness in delivery through the use of technological innovations.
1. Third-Party Fulfillment (3PL)
At a particular stage in their growth process, e-commerce businesses can outsource the service of handling order fulfillment to a third-party logistics outfit that will handle all issues relating to order fulfillment, including packing, picking, and managing inventory management, and so on. This model comes with a lot of comparative advantages over the self-fulfillment model. E-commerce companies and brands that did not incorporate order fulfillment into their services from the start may not find it easy to understand the various dynamics. Hence, it’s better to give out the businesses of inventory management, shipping, etc., to a third party like Rocket Shippers. At the same time, they focus on improving products, generating more clients, and expanding business outcomes.
The 3PL model is a super easy option, given the fact that it offers security. It is easy to find a facility where products and inventory of e-commerce business can be warehoused. Apart from that, these warehouses are always safe and secure, giving rest of mind to both the customers and the e-commerce business.
Saving time is one other quality of an excellent 3PL. You don’t have to incur unnecessary costs arising from inadequate packaging, warehousing, inventory, improper product handling. Products also have to get to customers quickly and efficiently, saving you time and money while you focus on growing your business.
At Rocket Shippers, there is a high-quality 3PL warehousing facility which guarantees 24/7 security. It comes with proper organization, which ensures that your product is handled with utmost care to meet your client’s needs. There are Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) with flexible custom manuals for the client to meet their business needs.
- Improved profit margins due to bulk inventory purchase
- Requires no investment in the warehouse, inventory management, or any of the order fulfillment processes
- Convenient outsourcing option
- Cost-efficient shipping
- Increased shipments
“As a new start-up business, expanding can seem overwhelming and confusing. However, rocket shippers made the process of outsourcing our fulfillment easy and clear. They were extremely helpful in the start-up phase of transferring our information and products over to them. They meet you where you’re at in regards to your business and your needs. They have been nothing but excellent in their customer service and their response. You can always talk to a real person and they always respond quickly which helps when you’re dealing with your products and your customers. I would recommend them to any business especially startups.”– Katie Uilk – CEO of KK Skin Labs
2. In-house Order Fulfillment
The in-house model of order fulfillment is otherwise called self-fulfilling. It is a method in which an e-commerce company decides to empower and expand its business capacity. Instead of outsourcing its order fulfillment, the company will put in place some facilities, technologies, and infrastructure capable of offering them the necessary operational or technical support to handle the order fulfillment.
Focusing on enhancing product value, marketing, generating more clients often is the primary and ultimate goal of many e-commerce companies. Still, some may have the capacity to have this expertise and facilities to provide customers with other order fulfillment services (warehousing, shipping, picking, packing, etc.) and would want to handle them instead in-house.
What that means is that such e-commerce businesses will have to get involved in recruiting expertise to different areas of order fulfillment services and so incur extra overhead cost on salaries, tax, insurance, workers’ wages, and comp, etc. They will also have to worry about procuring the packing supplies, such as shelving units, office supplies, and so on.
- Easy access to and full control over quality and brand inventory
- Orders can be fulfilled in-house promptly
- Works well and manageable with local customers
- Allows shipping and storing of perishable goods
- Drives e-commerce business closer to customers
- You can get closer to your customers
- Allows for custom products, branding, and packaging
- Requires more human resources, facility, expertise, and skills.
- Eats into the budget and increases cost on overhead
- Requires a spacious warehouse for products.
- Logistics can be a difficulty for international orders
- Multiple and complex orders can result in fatal human error in inventory management
Dropshipping involves the process of handling the entire order fulfillment process to the customer. It includes all the network of individual and group services involved in the supply chain of e-commerce fulfillment. Here, when a company chooses to take full charge of all steps and processes of production, picking, packing, storing, and shipping directly to the customer, we say they are dropshipping.
The seller of the products, in this sense, acts as the middleman who connects products (supplier/manufacturer) to the customer but who himself has no possession of the products being sold. A drop shipper is a go-between that links sellers to the products they want to buy. The drop shipping works because a customer will make an order for an item through a drop shipper; the drop shipper, in turn, links the potential buyer to the product by sending a request to the manufacturer. The supplier, therefore, carries the item to the customer through the drop shipper. In this way, if the manufacturer doesn’t work in the same country with the seller, delivery time is often delayed, and the cost of shipping the product can be a lot expensive.
- It is easy to get started
- Does not require inventory management and stock organization
- Gives room for an assortment of products
- Can easily scale up and down
- Allow for low-budget operations and functioning
- Gives room for healthy cash flow and quick ROI
- encourages huge sales at high-traffic marketplaces, including Shopify, Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Minimal ‘bad buy’ or over-stock issues
- Does not operate warehouse; hence, no custom products
- Low-quality control checks as the seller don’t belong to the order fulfillment process
- Reduced brand power
- Low barrier to entry compromises competitive advantage
- Logistics issues during Scaling up
- Doesn’t guarantee a profit
4. Amazon FBA
Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce business platforms in the world. It comes with a self-fulfillments program called the fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). This is a situation wherein a product seller on Amazon drops their products to Amazon fulfillment centers. Amazon warehouses these products and handles the order fulfillment processes from start to finish.
In that case, Amazon allows only products that are registered on their site (Amazon.com), and those products must have a Prime status. The advantage is that products on FBA are often shipped out without delay; in fact, it takes within two to three days for the order to be fulfilled and products get to the customer’s destination.
It’s worth noting that fees and fulfillment on FBA are high. Sellers will have to part with 15% of the product’s selling price as charges for using the Amazon platform and fulfillment order. Besides, sellers will have to pay monthly inventory storage fees as well as long-term storage fees, depending on the number of days the products are warehoused. Additional cost includes charges on oversized shipments, inventory removal for returns, and disposals.
- Increased sales and customer base
- Effortless logistics and shipping
- Discounted shipping rates and quick delivery
- Seamless processing and management of returns
- Customer service management.
- Unlimited warehouse to store products
- Costly to maintain: no cost-effective
- Long term storage fees
- Potential more product returns
- Difficulty in preparing products
- Inventory tracking may be difficult
Integrations & Partner Capabilities
Shopify remains of the biggest brands on a global scale when it comes to the e-commerce business. It is a proud partner of sellers and manufacturers who wants to see their order fulfilled quickly, efficiently, and at very cost-effective fees.
Sellers can leverage the Shopify platform, including Shopify Plus, to fulfill their orders and meet the demands of their numerous customers. Shopify has not only helped in selling products; it has also built a network of buyers for sellers and manufacturers.
The platform can seamlessly integrate with Rocket Shippers’ Warehouse Management Software (WMS) to manage inventory and automate e-commerce fulfillment. You won’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about how your product ships to the customers; Shopify will connect you and your product with their users.
One exciting thing about the Shopify fulfillment service is that sellers can track the number of stock available on the Rocket Shipper’s warehouse platform so they could send orders for new ones. As a technology-driven company, Rocket Shippers is always in handy to make delivery and shipping easy and prompt.
Woocommerce has come to compete with the biggest brands in the e-commerce industry. It remains one of the most significant technology integration partners of Rocket Shippers in e-commerce fulfillment.
Rocket Shippers partners favorably with WooCommerce to deliver top-quality sellers’ products to numerous customers out there. They are a brand that meets customer expectations, thanks to the highly competent and professional QC team they have.
Interestingly, Rocket Shippers also work with a team of experienced, honest, and customer-friendly QC team who is not intent on product sales but also interested in what kind of product is being promoted and sold to customers.
With incredible shipping and return policy, WooCommerce works and integrates with Rocket Shippers’s Warehouse Management Software to ensure e-commerce fulfillment and automate order fulfillment, manage inventory, and ship orders efficiently.
For sellers on the BigCommerce platform, Rocket Shippers will help you meet your customer expectations in several ways. One of the methods is to ensure fast delivery, discounted shipping rates. With our WMS, Rocket Shippers easily integrates and partners with BigCommerce to bring about automatic e-commerce fulfillment and inventory management.
In all of this, rocket Shippers guarantee transparency, honesty, expertise, and the right people to professionally handle every order. So for every product on BigCommerce store, you’re sure of returns on investment, while helping you take care of all order fulfillment
Squarespace is one fulfillment partner every fulfillment business, and third party logistics want to partner. The Squarespace helps to automate all e-commerce fulfillment processes, including picking, packing, and shipping. The automatic integration helps to streamline fulfillment processes and let e-commerce business and sellers focus on growth and progress
Magento is ranked as one of the best support services to e-commerce businesses and seller’s stores in the world, standing tall ahead of many other platforms out there. Partnering with this brand is no brainer for Rocket Shippers, who itself is a world-renowned 3PL and order fulfillment company.
With rich features, the Magento software integrates squarely with reorganized order fulfillment that Rocket Shippers does with its shipping. Rocket Shippers integrates effortlessly with Magento, offering discounts on every order by customers on products listed on the Magento platform.
Amazon fulfillment involves all the services included in order fulfillment, including receiving, picking, packing, and shipping of products through their website (Amazon.com). Rocket Shippers partners with Amazon to help Amazon grow its business, fulfill customers orders, and satisfy their needs, especially sellers whose products are not yet on the Prime status of Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of questions on the table of customers, sellers, and order fulfillment companies and e-commerce businesses. To be the game-changer, you need to have answers to these ever-emerging questions on the front burner.
Here are some of the questions relevant to the whole idea of e-commerce fulfillment:
How much do fulfillment centers cost?
Depending on the facility and center you’re using, the cost of securing, owning, and keeping a fulfillment center is relatively high. There is also the question about the policy and charge model of the fulfillment center, you may be asked to pay per pallet or unit. Others may charge you per hour, day, week, or month. You will find out which of these packages your potential fulfillment center adopts.
Meanwhile, at Rocket Shippers, there are no minimum monthly storage or warehousing fees. They provide and client-friendly policy, cost-effective solutions, and flexible support to their clients concerning the use of their warehouse to help them focus on business growth and expansion.
Also, they offer distribution expertise and high-level customer service to help achieve the bottom lin.
How does 2-day shipping work?
Typically, Rocket Shippers, for example, has its fulfillment center located in Erlanger KN, which is the same location as DHL HQ and Amazon’s new Prime airlines. This centralized location provides close to 70% of the United States with two-day ground shipping, which can save you a ton on rates.
If you have specific Amazon specs for Prime, Rocket Shippers works with all of the stipulations and regulations for any B2B retailers. They have several clients who have to abide by specific things with each. Also, their WMS can choose the lowest possible rate they get from the carriers automatically while linked with your cart to ensure the customer can determine shipping prices.
How do fulfillment centers work?
Typically, fulfillment centers receive your orders and keep your inventory in their warehouse. Subsequently, they begin to pack, pick, and ship to the customer destination. Rocket Shippers is an incredible place where you receive terrific benefits on their fulfillment centers. Within two days, the order is shipped and reached customers.
What is a fulfillment partner?
A fulfillment partner provides all the services involved in the order fulfillment order processes for an e-commerce business. These processes include receiving, processing, warehousing, and shipping. They also help in processing returns while giving 24/7 support to customers to get off their expectations.
Fulfillment partners help to improve the efficiency of the delivery of products and packages to customers. Rocket Shippers is a great fulfillment partner because as 3PL, it ensures reliable and cost-effective shipping and fulfillment package for clients.