Complete Ecommerce Fulfillment Guide (2024) – Streamline Your Operations and Boost Sales

Complete Ecommerce Fulfillment Guide (2024) – Streamline Your Operations and Boost Sales

Are you looking to streamline your ecommerce operations and boost sales for your online store? Look no further than this complete ecommerce fulfillment guide for 2024. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about ecommerce fulfillment, including the process, best fulfillment services, when to switch to outsourced fulfillment, challenges, and frequently asked questions.

What is ecommerce fulfillment?

Ecommerce fulfillment is the process of receiving, processing, and shipping customer orders for online retailers. It involves everything from inventory storage to packing and shipping, and even returns management.

How do you fulfill an ecommerce order?

3 order fulfillment methods

1. Self-fulfillment

With self-fulfillment, the online retailer handles all aspects of the fulfillment process in-house, from receiving orders to shipping them out.

2. Third-party fulfillment

Third-party fulfillment involves outsourcing the entire fulfillment process to a third-party logistics company, which handles receiving, processing, and shipping orders on behalf of the online retailer.

3. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where the online retailer does not keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a product is sold, the retailer purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer.

The ecommerce fulfillment process

1. Receiving orders and inventory storage

The fulfillment process begins with receiving orders from customers and storing inventory in a warehouse or fulfillment center.

2. Packing and shipping

Once an order is received, the products are picked from inventory, packed, and shipped to the customer using a shipping carrier.

3. Returns management

Returns management involves handling any returns or exchanges from customers, including processing returns and restocking inventory.

7 best ecommerce fulfillment services

1. Shopify Fulfillment Network

Shopify Fulfillment Network features

Shopify Fulfillment Network offers fast and affordable shipping, networked inventory, and easy order management for Shopify merchants.

2. ShipNetwork

ShipNetwork features

ShipNetwork provides scalable and flexible fulfillment solutions, including inventory management, order processing, and shipping services.

ShipNetwork price

Pricing varies based on fulfillment services required. Contact ShipNetwork for a custom quote.

3. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Amazon FBA features

Amazon FBA offers storage, packing, and shipping services for ecommerce businesses, with access to Amazon’s vast network of fulfillment centers.

Amazon FBA price

Pricing is based on storage space and order fulfillment. Visit Amazon’s FBA pricing page for more details.

4. ShipBob

ShipBob features

ShipBob provides order fulfillment, inventory management, and shipping solutions for ecommerce merchants of all sizes.

ShipBob price

Pricing varies based on fulfillment services required. Contact ShipBob for a custom quote.

5. Red Stag Fulfillment

Red Stag features

Red Stag offers ecommerce fulfillment services with a focus on large, heavy, or high-value products, as well as customizable packaging and branding options.

Red Stag price

Pricing is based on order volume and storage needs. Contact Red Stag for a custom pricing proposal.

6. ShipHero

ShipHero features

ShipHero provides ecommerce fulfillment and warehouse management solutions, including order processing, inventory control, and shipping services.

ShipHero price

Pricing varies based on fulfillment services required. Contact ShipHero for a custom quote.

7. ShipMonk

ShipMonk features

ShipMonk offers ecommerce fulfillment services, including order management, inventory control, and shipping solutions, with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses.

ShipMonk price

Pricing is based on order volume and fulfillment services required. Contact ShipMonk for a custom quote.

Similar industry experience

When choosing an ecommerce fulfillment provider, consider their experience working with businesses similar to yours in terms of industry, product types, and order volume.

Similar existing clients

Look for fulfillment providers that have experience working with similar existing clients, as this can be a good indicator of their ability to meet your specific needs.

Look beyond price

While pricing is important, it’s essential to consider other factors such as service quality, shipping speed, and customer support when choosing an ecommerce fulfillment provider.

Technology and integrations

Consider the technology and integrations offered by fulfillment providers, including order management systems, inventory tracking, and shipping carrier integrations.

Other factors to consider when choosing an ecommerce fulfillment provider

Data and analytics

Look for fulfillment providers that offer robust data and analytics capabilities to help you track and optimize your ecommerce operations.

Fulfillment center locations

Consider the location of fulfillment centers to ensure fast and cost-effective shipping to your customers.

Inventory shrinkage allowance

Ask about inventory shrinkage allowance policies to understand how fulfillment providers handle lost or damaged inventory.

The benefits of using third-party logistics

Increased warehouse flexibility

Outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics company provides flexibility in warehouse space and resources, allowing you to scale your operations as needed.

Bring on the experts

Access the expertise of fulfillment professionals who understand the complexities of ecommerce logistics and can help optimize your fulfillment processes.

Use your time better

By outsourcing fulfillment, you can focus on growing your ecommerce business, marketing, and customer service, rather than spending time on order processing and shipping.

When is the right time to switch to outsourced fulfillment?

Cyclical or uneven sales

If your business experiences fluctuations in sales volume throughout the year, outsourcing fulfillment can provide the flexibility to scale up or down as needed.

You’re too busy

If order processing and shipping are taking up too much of your time, it may be time to consider outsourcing fulfillment and focusing on other aspects of your business.

Lack of infrastructure

If your ecommerce business lacks the infrastructure, resources, or expertise to handle fulfillment in-house, outsourcing can provide the necessary support.

Ecommerce fulfillment challenges

Who shouldn’t work with a third-party logistics company?

Businesses with limited cash flow

If your business struggles with cash flow, the additional cost of outsourcing fulfillment may not be feasible.

Highly specialized businesses

For businesses with highly specialized products or unique fulfillment requirements, it may be challenging to find a third-party logistics company that can meet your specific needs.

Businesses with limited daily order volume

If your business has low daily order volume, the cost of outsourcing fulfillment may not be justified, and self-fulfillment may be more cost-effective.

Moving forward with your ecommerce fulfillment partner

Once you’ve chosen an ecommerce fulfillment provider, it’s essential to establish clear communication and expectations to ensure a successful partnership. Regularly review performance metrics and make adjustments as needed to optimize your fulfillment operations.

Ecommerce fulfillment FAQ

What is an order fulfillment process?

The order fulfillment process involves receiving, processing, and shipping customer orders for ecommerce businesses.

What is the best fulfillment service?

The best fulfillment service for your ecommerce business depends on your specific needs, including order volume, product types, and shipping requirements. Consider factors such as pricing, technology, and customer support when choosing a fulfillment provider.

How do I fulfill an online order?

To fulfill an online order, you must receive the order, pick products from inventory, pack them, and ship them to the customer using a shipping carrier.

How much does ecommerce fulfillment cost?

The cost of ecommerce fulfillment varies based on factors such as order volume, storage space, and additional services required. Contact fulfillment providers for custom pricing proposals.

What is direct order fulfillment?

Direct order fulfillment involves shipping products directly from the manufacturer or supplier to the customer, bypassing the retailer’s own inventory.