The world of e-commerce is constantly growing, evolving and shifting consumer expectations. What it comes to the cost and speed of shipping, what once took weeks to receive, and many dollars to send, can now make it to your doorstep within two-days thanks to mega retail giants like Amazon Prime.
Naturally, this means that browsing the web has become more of a weekly, if not daily, ritual part of our habitual routine and since we carry out lots of our shopping needs online, when we want something, we want it now. This can prove to be a challenging demand to meet for small business owners and less established sellers. Needless to say, while fulfilling online orders may not be the most intriguing part of running your own e-commerce business, it’s the most crucial function in ensuring business success.
What is e-commerce fulfillment?
E-commerce fulfillment refers to the process of storing inventory, picking and packing ordered products and then shipping them out to the buyer. This process can be completed through business-to-business (B2B) — where large quantities of the product are shipped to big-box retailers — or through a business-to-consumer (B2C) — orders that are shipped directly to a customer’s home. After a customer processes payment and completes their purchase, the fulfillment process begins.
Why is e-commerce fulfillment the most important thing?
When a customer processes an order using your e-commerce website, you now possess the responsibility to ensure that that order is packed and shipped in order to meet your consumer’s expectation. The expectation bar is set based on the estimation you provided them with prior to them entering their billing information. But, why does their order absolutely need to meet or beat your proposed shipping time-frame?
- Studies suggest that 61% of shoppers will abandon their cart if the shipping fees are too high.
- Studies suggest that 53% of shoppers care about the speed of delivery of their order.
- Studies suggest that 38% of shoppers will never shop from a website that gave them a poor delivery experience.
- Studies suggest that 25% if shoppers have canceled an order due to slow delivery.
What are a few steps of e-commerce fulfillment?
Now that you understand what e-commerce fulfillment is and why you should concentrate on it as a business owner, you need to understand the best way to enable all the moving pieces to work together.
- Receiving: Before you’re able to package and ship products through your online sales channels, you will need to have the inventory in stock. If you’re wanting to fulfill your own orders, it’s best to have your inventory on-hand in order to offer a quicker shipping time. If you’re outsourcing, the inventory must be sent out by your provider.
- Inventory storage: A organized storage of your inventory will make it easy to find items once a purchase has been processed.
- Order processing: Once an order has been submitted by a customer, you’ll need to process and confirm that order. Next, you will retrieve the order from your inventory storage, pack it — be sure to use the right packing materials such as poly bags and bubble wrap — attach a shopping label to the package and send it on its way.
- Handling returns: If a customer returns an order, you will also need to process it. Once the item is shipped back to you, you will need to evaluate it and depending on the return reason, and your return policy, the product can then be restocked or disposed of.
Are there any other behind-the-scenes processes of e-commerce fulfillment that we missed? Tell us in the comments section below.