The starter guide to order fulfillment

Whether you’re just starting out with e-commerce or you’ve been dedicated to this industry for years, it never hurts to revisit your order fulfillment plan — to make sure it’s up-to-date, automated, cost-effective and efficient.

Competition is fierce. You have to put a lot effort into making sure your customers have a great experience and assign your time to the most important part—— growing your business. While order fulfillment is a lengthy but crucial part of e-commerce success. According to the e-commerce industry data, a growing number of e-commerce sellers report spending more than 50% of their time and cost as of 2018.

That’s why it’s so important to map out your defined e-commerce order fulfillment strategy. Before starting out, it can be complex if you are not familiar with order fulfillment process. So we’ll go over some of the basics of the order fulfillment:

  • What Order Fulfillment is.
  • Why Order Fulfillment is important.

What is Order Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment is defined as the steps involved in receiving, inspection, inventory management, processing, shipping orders to end customers and return handling.

An order fulfillment service is defined as a third-party company that provides these order fulfillment steps on behalf of another party, such as an online seller.

These general definitions can be applied to many types of orders, from B2B orders to B2C orders.

Since our SFC is an online order fulfillment company, in this article we will specifically discuss e-commerce order fulfillment, which we will more specifically define as the steps involved receiving, inventory management, process, and deliver an online order to the end user’s residential address.

To help you better understand what ecommerce order fulfillment is, let’s walk through the different steps involved.

Receiving

Whether you outsource order fulfillment services or do it yourself, receiving the inventory from the manufacturer to the warehouse is the first step toward getting orders to the end customers.

Inspection

Before putting the merchandise on shelves, product quantity and quality inspection will be carried out to ensure the inventory accuracy. And every SKU will be designated a barcode for smooth process.

Inventory management

After inventory has been received, inspected, labeled and added to SFC warehouse management system, then it is time for it to be shelved.

Inventory accuracy is a crucial part of order fulfillment process, our SFC has top-notch barcode technology and warehouse management system to maintain the accuracy of your order fulfillment operations.

Order processing

Once an order is placed by your customer, order management system like SFC provides will synchronize your order from marketplace to the fulfillment warehouse automatically for further process. Generally, order fulfillment company like SFC will provide integration with popular shopping carts like Amazon, shopify, ebay, woocommerce, etc, which provides you with order sync automation, thus slash the manual work time.

After an order is received by fulfillment warehouse, warehouse operatives will pick and pack the order and sometimes apply some value-added services like custom packaging, marketing insert, etc.

Shipping

Once the pick and pack operation is done, the order is ready for delivery. Order management system like SFC serves allow users access to the real time tracking and also can update the tracking number to end customers.

Return handling

It’s important not to forget about return handling when it comes to order fulfillment.

Products returned should go through careful inspection and be handled properly at fulfillment warehouse depending on a case-by-case basis.

After explanation of the 6 steps of order fulfillment, you should have an overall idea of what order fulfillment is. Now let’s dive into why ecommerce sellers like you should realize its importance.

Why Order Fulfillment is important?

Focusing on streamlining your order fulfillment process can create an overall impact on improving your business efficiency.

Automation speeds up the process

Since order fulfillment consolidates inventory management and order management into one place with automation technology, from inventory receiving to final mile delivery, hence the whole process becomes more efficient ever than before, which helps ecommerce sellers focusing on their sales.

Sales forecast

From order fulfillment system, sellers have access to their inventory and order condition thus providing a reference for sales forecast.

Keeping customers happy

Accurate order fulfillment is critical to ensure companies can compete effectively and keep customers happy.

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