Order fulfilment services cover the entire process of a transaction. From when your customer purchases a product online, right through to its delivery to the customer. In order to make order fulfilment successful, outsourcing order fulfilment with third party fulfilment companies is often required to complete certain order steps for your eCommerce store: from receiving, processing, picking, packing, and shipping the online order to the customer.
It is vital for eCommerce businesses to stay competitive, as this builds customer loyalty and generates success. If any customer orders receive a bad experience, either from having a package become lost, arrive late, or arrive damaged, they may never shop with you again. In order to prevent any nasty situations like these from arising, and to live up to customer expectations, your own order processing and fulfilment strategy needs to be airtight.
When it comes to strategising your order fulfilment and order processing, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Below, we detail some of the most important factors to consider when you decide to scale fulfilment for your eCommerce business.
To determine the answer to this question, you need to ask yourself some other questions first.
The number of products you sell and your monthly order volume plays a large part in finding fulfilment processes that work best for you and your business. If you’re new to the world of eCommerce, the fulfilment strategy that works best for you is going to look very different compared to that of Amazon or Asos for example.
A low order volume may make it more cost-efficient for you to complete your own fulfilment rather than outsourcing order fulfilment. If you only sell a small number of products and are shipping just a few orders per week, it’s less likely that you need a full inventory or warehouse management system to keep track of your inventory and operations.
However, if you find that your business is growing quickly, with your average order value increasing at a steady and predictable rate, you may be due to outgrow your current fulfilment strategy. Making sure your eCommerce fulfilment strategy scales with you is key.
It is a good idea to figure out where you’re at with your business in terms of sales. Begin by asking yourself questions like:
When it comes to UK fulfilment strategies, you should tailor yours to support online sales channels. With the use of order fulfilment software, you can integrate your eCommerce platform and online marketplace in order to make the entire fulfilment process more efficient.
Choosing a fulfilment service with good inventory management software is also essential – as you’ll always have full visibility into your inventory, as well as being able to prevent stockouts.
When completing order fulfilment, you should ask yourself some location-based questions, such as:
The destinations you ship to and from are two of the most important aspects when becoming informed on your fulfilment strategy. Quick delivery and a lower price tag are what customers primarily want – and this can be achieved by limiting the number of shipping zones for your package to travel, allowing reduced shipping costs and times.
If you’re currently shipping from more rural areas, you could also be incurring unnecessarily high shipping costs compared to shipping from urban areas.
All eCommerce businesses have different needs to fill, so the best order fulfilment strategy may not be the same as that of your competitors.
Dropshipping, merchant fulfilment, and third-party fulfilment companies are the most common outsourcing methods for eCommerce businesses. Below, we detail each method so you can make an informed decision on the route you wish to choose.
Dropshipping is a more hands-off approach when it comes to manufacturing and order fulfilment services. These shipping methods see your inventory being produced, stored, and shipped by the manufacturer.
When a customer places an order with your store, the details of that order are forwarded to the manufacturer, and the product is shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer. Dropshipping is quite accessible, with low barriers to entry and minimal overhead, this makes dropshipping an ideal option for new eCommerce businesses. In contrast, many manufacturers are often found overseas – this can increase shipping times and can be more expensive than fulfiling domestic orders.
This method is also known by the terms ‘in-house fulfilment’ and ‘self-fulfilment’. Merchant fulfilment refers to a seller completing the entire order fulfilment process without utilising the services of a third-party logistics service. Many brands choose this method when just starting out – however, this often means storing your inventory and packing orders at home or in your base of operations.
This method gives the seller more control over their retail supply chain, but it can be costly and hard to scale as the business grows. When this happens, it is then a good idea to expand merchant fulfilment options by investing in order fulfilment infrastructures, such as warehouses and staff etc, or outsourcing to a third party logistics service.
Third-party fulfilment allows the outsourcing of fulfilment logistics to an external partner. Processes that can be outsourced include inventory management, generating optimised picking lists, picking and packing boxes, shipping orders, and returns and customer services management. Services that are usually too expensive, unproductive, or complex to manage in-house are typically outsourced to a third-party logistics partner.
Third-party logistics services also help automating time-consuming tasks for those who lack the bandwidth or space to continue fulfiling orders themselves.
Here at The Delivery Group, we offer multiple order fulfilment services in the UK that could benefit your eCommerce business. Below are the specific fulfilment types that we offer for the benefit of your business and clientele.
There are multiple steps to the fulfilment process that can make the whole process more complicated if you aren’t sure what they are. Below are links to articles we have written on specific steps in the fulfilment process to help expand your understanding.