What is Ecommerce Fulfilment and How Does it Work?
As a seller, eCommerce is the means through which you sell your products directly to customers over the internet. It is the number one weapon you have in the face of global expansion, and it is what enables you to connect with customers and sell overseas.
But far from being the final hurdle that you need to cross in order to become a reputable and established seller, receiving an order is just the start of the next stage of the process. Once an order has been received, that order is handed over to your 3PL service provider – an operational arm which needs to run smoothly if your business has any hope of surviving and thriving.
In this blog, we’re answering the question ‘what is eCommerce fulfilment’; considering what it involves, how it works, and which areas you can and should outsource as a seller.
What is eCommerce Fulfilment?
eCommerce fulfilment refers to everything that happens after an order has been replaced and received by your business or brand. You could have the best product in the world and sell via your chosen marketplace platform with the very best marketing strategy and product imagery around – but without a strong eCommerce fulfilment plan in place then you will soon become overworked, overwhelmed, and at risk of under-delivering.
The fulfilment arm of your eCommerce business is what transitions products from your warehouse or storage facility into the homes of paying customers. It encompasses the movement of products from your manufacturer to your fulfilment warehouse, into the packaging centre, and to their final destination. Crucially, it is what dictates how smooth and efficient your delivery can be, with delivery prices and times an integral part of the modern buyer’s consideration and decision-making process.
Let’s take a closer look at the stages of eCommerce fulfilment.
The stages of eCommerce Fulfilment
To understand eCommerce fulfilment and its many stages, you need to consider and understand the lifecycle of a product once it has been produced, right up until it is handed over to and unboxed by the buyer.
In essence, once a product has been manufactured it goes into a storage facility – whether you outsource it to a fulfilment company or pay your own warehouse lease. Once there it has to be received and checked into your stock and inventory system, where it will stay until it is ordered. When orders are received, those products need to be picked and packaged, making sure to update the inventory to keep an accurate eye on stock levels. The order then needs to be sent, passed over to your delivery company, and taken to the end buyer.
Long story short, it’s a process of many stages. And eCommerce fulfilment plays an integral part in making sure that all of them work seamlessly and in unison.
How? By four main areas of focus.
- Fulfilment centre integration using our Mint Soft warehousing system, which marries orders received across all channels to the warehouse.
- Managing stock as it arrives at the warehouse, taking note of shrinkage (any stock which is lost or damaged) and ensuring inventory is up to date.
- Order fulfilment – that is, the picking, packaging, re-labelling (according to the local regulations), and shipping stage of each order.
- Returns processing and the ability to efficiently deal with issues.
While not all of these stages work on a directly customer-facing level, all of them contribute to the customer experience and must work in harmony if you want to deliver a good experience to buyers.
How to Improve your eCommerce Fulfilment Plan
The number one way that sellers can improve their eCommerce fulfilment plan and ensure that it runs smoothly without impacting their workload or attention to the growth of the business, is by outsourcing it to a fulfilment company.
Uniting third-party vendors and ensuring that each stage of the fulfilment process is working seamlessly, a fulfilment company becomes an extension of your business and integrates systems and methods which allow your business to roll with changing demand, consumer behaviour, and marketplace adjustments.
Under a 3PL system plan, businesses can scale and grow – with GEE offering support in storage, order fulfilment, labelling, postage, returns, FBA prep (fulfilment by Amazon preparation of products for those selling on Amazon and using their integrated tool), and the unloading of containers in your target country.
The benefits of working with 3PL fulfilment centres like GEE include:
- The ability to scale up and grow, expanding your shelf space within the storage warehouse as required.
- Orders received are packaged and sent efficiently by experts who specialise in working within your industry.
- With fulfilment centres deliberately located in prime spots for access to Europe and the UK, partnering with a reputable 3PL provider like GEE positions you to perfectly access and serve your target market. Our existing ports are located in Southampton and Amsterdam, with plans to expand to more countries for even broader service and shipping access.
- Operations are more efficient, from packaging and posting to processing returns and refunds.
How to Find the Best eCommerce Fulfilment Support for your Business
When it comes to sourcing and partnering with an eCommerce fulfilment company, location is key – with sellers looking to expand into the UK and Europe heralding our warehouse positions at the prime UK and European ports.
Beyond that, you should be looking to partner with an eCommerce fulfilment company that can support and facilitate your growth overseas – handling the backend of order fulfilment for your business so that you can focus on; expanding your listings and providing customers with the service they deserve.
Here at GEE, our 3PL service allows us to manage and support brands across every stage of the fulfilment process – accepting shipments into our warehousing facilities and storing them in the optimum environment, before processing them as orders are received.
We believe that the best way to grow your business is to not only deliver on the service you promise to your customers, but to exceed their expectations. When you work with a 3PL or eCommerce fulfilment partner, every aspect of the order fulfilment process is managed by experts – leaving you free to focus on what really matters.