It will come as no surprise to anyone that eCommerce has really exploded in popularity over the past two years, and the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly helped that.
There are a number of organizations that offer online retail fulfillment, but not all of these organizations are created equally.
One big difference is the level of integration. Service providers may be built in-house for an organization, or they may have been outsourced to a third party.
What Is a Fulfillment Process?
The fulfillment process is essentially how to take an item (which you want to fulfill) and turn it into something that can be shipped physically, taking your item from your warehouse and delivering it to the end customer, regardless of whether that is a business customer or a consumer customer.
The process of fulfilling an item is actually a number of processes:
Procurement is how you get items into your warehouse. This can include buying in bulk through a third-party supplier who will typically have access to a global network and can source items globally.
Receiving is when you get an item into your warehouse. This can be done through a physical point of delivery or by courier.
Boxing and Labelling
This is where you place an item into a box and label it with the contents and quantity within that box.
Inventory management is how you track the items that are in the warehouse or eCommerce fullfillment center so that you know what you have to fulfill. This means that when an order comes in, you know if and when you can fulfill it.
Order processing is taking the details of an order and translating them into something that lets your warehouse personnel know what to pull from inventory and ship to your customer.
How Does Ecommerce Delivery Work?
Delivery is a lot simpler than it used to be.
The traditional model required a company to have either a dedicated fleet of delivery trucks or for the company to have a plethora of resources on-site to fulfill the order themselves in-house.
Nowadays, many eCommerce fulfillment companies use automated order processing software for the delivery work.
What Is the Best Shipping Method?
Deciding on the best shipping method really depends on the items that are being shipped and where they are going; to a business or to a retail customer.
In both cases, the method of shipping will be very different.
Fulfillment for Businesses
For most eCommerce businesses selling high-value stock or something likely to be damaged or broken in transit, the best method of shipping will always be with a courier.
The reason for this is that couriers are used to handling fragile goods and have a better understanding of what needs to be done to ensure the items are not damaged.
Fulfillment for Retail
For slower-moving goods that do not require such stringent care, postal shipping methods may be more appropriate.
Traditional delivery options are usually the least expensive but may take a little longer than a courier or postal carrier. Typically, these methods include overnight and next-day delivery services.
Often, retail customers will be willing to wait for an item, but thanks to improvements in the fulfillment chain, they may now only need to wait a few hours or even minutes.