What’s eCommerce fulfillment and what are the types of fulfillment available?
When it comes to product fulfillment, it actually involves far more than fulfillment companies grabbing products in a warehouse and sending them to your customers.
There are several types of eCommerce fulfillment, some of which don’t require any third-party company, while others don’t even need you to look at the products before sending them to customers.
eCommerce fulfillment is a seamless process that makes your online business more agile. Fulfillment could be outsourcing the storage, packaging, and shipping of your products, with an integration directly into your eCommerce platform.
It could also mean finding a warehouse and shipping center that is flexible for you to expand as your business scales.
In short, four steps/components are included in the fulfillment process:
- A software integration between your eCommerce store and the fulfillment center. This lets your fulfillment center know orders.
- Product acceptance and management, where you send the items to your fulfillment center for organization and placing it into inventory.
- Order fulfillment, which includes packaging, shipping, and potential branding.
- Processing returns when customers don’t want the products.
These fulfillment steps change depending on the type of eCommerce fulfillment you opt for. For instance, some fulfillment options don’t need software integrations or to send products to a different company for storage.
Below, we’re going to show you three main eCommerce fulfillment models in use today. Each section starts with a bird’s-eye-view of what’s going on with your eCommerce operation based on the type of eCommerce fulfillment that you opt for:
eCommerce fulfillment option #1: self-fulfillment
The name self-fulfillment says quite a bit about how the operation functions.
The business owner does all the work.
You may utilize some software or services to expedite the process or save money, but in general, you’re handling all of the following:
- Accepting products from the supplier
- Inventory management and storage
- Handling returns
Smaller businesses can run fulfillment processes in apartments, houses, or garages. Running to the post office or UPS is manageable with smaller order counts. However, you eventually may have to rent out a warehouse to store your items.
This warehouse then functions as your full distribution center, and many times you’ll have offices there.
- Your company has full control over the fulfillment process. Quality control is improved.
- This method is typically cheaper for smaller businesses, especially if you’re storing items in your own residence and sending out the items yourself.
- Branding is much easier.
This article was written by Joe Warnimont and originally published on CodeinWP.