What is eCommerce Fulfilment?
If you’re an online retailer, you’ve probably noticed that online shoppers have exceedingly high expectations. Ordering has to be instant, goods should arrive next day, and returns must be frictionless. If you have, at times, struggled to live up to these expectations, you may be wondering, why is the bar set so high?
We have Amazon and eBay to thank for it. These online retail giants are driven by customer service excellence – which means every other eCommerce business is in competition with their phenomenally high standards.
Meeting customer expectations can quickly become a full-time job for an online retailer. Which is why many make the decision to outsource order fulfilment to a third party. That way they can concentrate on the business, branding and customer acquisition, whilst fulfilment experts make sure order processing, warehousing and delivery is flawless.
eCommerce Fulfilment Explained
eCommerce fulfilment begins the moment a customer clicks on the complete purchase tab. If you’re working with a fulfilment partner, that’s the moment that responsibility for its efficient delivery passes from the retailer to the specialist staff at the fulfilment centre.
Here’s what the process looks like:
The job of a fulfilment centre is to turn the fulfilment process into a streamlined operation which is carried out by supply chain specialists.
eCommerce Fulfilment Components
The ultimate goal of every fulfilment centre is prompt delivery of the goods ordered in perfect condition. The achievement of this goal is completed by a carrier, but the process of making it happen starts the moment that the purchase is complete. Each step leading up to delivery needs to be right in order for ultimate success to be achieved:
- Receiving Inventory. In order to fulfil orders, the fulfilment centre needs the products available. eCommerce retailers send their inventory direct to their fulfilment partner.
- Storing Inventory. The storage of goods in the warehouse is personalised to the retailer’s specific requirements. The positioning of the goods is crucial as they need to be easily retrievable.
- Picking and Packing. Once an order is received, the goods are collected and packed. Online retailers may want branded packaging, or they may require kitting or subscription services.
- Delivery. Once the order is complete it is shipped via a carrier. They will ensure safe, prompt delivery. Tracking information offering real-time delivery updates will be available.
- Returns. eCommerce fulfilment provides continuing customer service past the point of delivery. If customers want to return items, they provide a frictionless process of replacement or refund.
The Benefits of eCommerce Fulfilment
Doing order fulfilment well requires a dedicated infrastructure and a specific skillset. Rather than attempting to build these as part of your online business, it makes sense to use the existing infrastructure of centres dedicated to that purpose. This frees up time for you to focus on the other areas of the business.
Many 3rd party eCommerce fulfilment partners offer customised packaging as one of their value adds. This means that the packaging for your orders will be personalised to reflect your brand. Packaging is also optimised to ensure cost effectiveness, product protection, and sustainability are all integrated into your supply chain.
The IT technology which delivers fulfilment excellence is designed to offer a seamless experience for online customers. It also delivers order and inventory transparency, returns data, and detailed information on spikes etc to the online retailer. Online retailers have instant access to a sophisticated fulfilment system.
Ready to Exceed Customer Expectations?
If you are at the stage where you need an eCommerce fulfilment partner who can offer all the services you need to grow as a brand, we’d love to talk. Prolog has an established fulfilment centre, located in the heart of the UK, with flexible warehousing and a trained, highly motivated workforce.
We don’t just offer the basics; at every stage of the fulfilment process, we provide a personalised service which is tailored to your brand. We’re designed to deliver great service to you and your customers.