The underlining factor that all eCommerce businesses have in common is that their eCommerce fulfilment is impeccable.
One of the most fundamental part of your eCommerce business would be your fulfilment, even though it may not be the topic gets you animated it is crucial to any online business’ success. Without a seamless process of fulfilment your business could plummet rather dramatically.
Many world renown businesses outsource their fulfilment to third party logistics companies. Even with a combination of an in-demand product and flawless website, poor eCommerce fulfilment will leave your business devastated.
A recent study shows that online businesses offering free shipping was the most effective factor to push sales. More than 80% of online buyers were persuaded to purchase with free shipping. On the flip side research shows that eCommerce businesses who charge for shipping had more baskets abandoned than the counter parts who offer free shipping. Further findings indicated that more than half of the abandoned carts were due to high cost of fulfilment and around a quarter abandoned carts due to the speed of the fulfilment.
Customers are more inclined to purchase when the e-commerce business demonstrates accurate and affordable fulfilment. Vigorous eCommerce fulfilment and precise processes will always result in a saving of both money and time. Of course, e-commerce fulfilment providers with vast services such as same day fulfilment would help expand your business and grow your sales considerably.
Prosperous eCommerce fulfilment providers run like the clogs at the back of a watch, each clog fundamental to the process. Fulfilment processes require a wide range of vendors and exquisite planning which build the pathway to fruitful eCommerce fulfilment success.
What is eCommerce fulfilment?
Ecommerce fulfilment in ley mans terms is putting the product in the hands of your customer on the back of a sale. As simple as it may sound, when an eCommerce business has hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of orders to fulfil things can get complex. From the point of online sale, your fulfilment warehouse would be required to pick and pack the orders from the shelves, label and despatch the goods and finally deliver to your customer.
Therefor it is safe to assume that the warehousing services you chose to employ must demonstrate excellent e-commerce fulfilment capabilities. Warehouse storage is the most common sought solution however it clearly isn’t the only requirement for a successful business supply chain.
The process of an eCommerce fulfilment warehouse
Picking and packing orders is only part of the e-commerce fulfilment requirement. Modern warehousing solutions offer more than just pick and pack services, the extent to which the warehousing solutions you are offered are indicative to the success of your eCommerce fulfilment.
Your warehousing storage and fulfilment service provider is usually considered to be an extension of your business. Subcontracting your fulfilment to a third-party logistics solution gives your business the agility to develop by benefiting from cost saving and risk reduction.
The starting point of any eCommerce fulfilment starts from the integration of the eCommerce platform with the fulfilment centre. Processing orders received on the fulfilments centre require warehousing operatives to pick and pack the item and update inventories, usually in the form of using barcode scanners, this eliminates any room for human error as all goods inbound and outbound are scanned at the warehousing facility.
Once the goods are picked and packed ready to be despatched, depending on the service level requested warehousing services who offer shipping solutions would then hand over the goods to the necessary handling company to make final delivery. Prestige Logistics Group have a vast fleet of courier vehicles integrated into the warehouse eCommerce fulfilment solution and have incorporated a fulfilment service offering same day deliveries.
Finally, as part of the eCommerce fulfilment solution, processing returns are essential to inventory management and making stock available to resale.
eCommerce fulfilment- an in-depth analysis
Omnichannel fulfilment integration
A fulfilment warehouse is more than just a warehouse with racks for storage. A modern warehouse providing fulfilment services would invest in ensuring the technology is parallel to the services at offer. Your eCommerce store would integrate with the fulfilment warehouse management system. Your orders would instantaneously be received at the fulfilment warehouse where the warehouse operatives would get an in depth ‘instruction’ of picking the items and the requirements for fulfilment.
Furthermore, the fulfilment warehouse would integrate carriers and shipping companies. The software would then generate shipping labels better known as despatch notes which would be affixed to the package and handed over to the carrier for final delivery. Whilst scanning the item out the inventory would consistently update.
Therefor, it is of upmost importance the warehouse facility or the eCommerce fulfilment provider you opt to go with has the capability to integrate the warehouse management system into all your selling platforms. Having a robust IT department is as fundamental as having a robust pick and pack team ensure there is minimal down time, if any.
Inbound goods and Inventory integrity
Your goods would primarily be shipped to the managing warehouse and received in the docking bay where all items would be scanned into your inventory and placed on the allocated shelves ready for fulfilment.
The docking bay can be translated to a temporary holding area, this is where it is important to agree SLA’s with your managing warehousing to ensure there is an agreed time for items to be scanned in and available in your inventory. Failure to agree reasonable processing times would only mean the stock would not be available on your inventory until processed, of course this can only mean goods wouldn’t be made available for sale. So, it is rational to say that the initial receipt and processing of goods is as significant as the fulfilment.
Your warehousing and ecommerce fulfilment centre face another significant challenge which is shrinkage, otherwise known as loss, theft or damaged goods. The managing warehouse would have agreed with you a shrinkage percentage, this is an allowance of a sort which usually ranges between 2-8 percent based on your stock levels.
Principally you should agree to the following-
- A 24 to 48-hour period for goods to be received, scanned and racked, this is an industry standard for fulfilment warehouses.
- Having live access to your inventory, this real time data is crucial for inventory updates across your selling platforms to maximise your sales.
- Agreeing to the lowest possible shrinkage percentage to ensure liability of stock is ascertained, in turn your capital loss is reduced through ecommerce fulfilment.
- Agreeing to pick & pack turnaround times to ensure your warehouse fulfilment is operating at optimum levels.
Order Fulfilment- Pick And Pack
Your fulfilment warehouse is responsible to pick and pack the correct items into the box when orders are received. A warehouse operative would pick and pack the items in the most appropriate box. It is essential that the most appropriate carton is used to ensure that the volumetric weight of the shipment is kept at a minimal. A fulfilment warehouse with good practice of pick and pack would save your business a noticeable amount by reducing your shipping costs. So yes, size matters.
The location of your fulfilment warehouse can also play an important role in quick fulfilments. You should always look out for the following when selecting your fulfilment warehouse:
- Central to a capital or city, this would usually mean that your ecommerce fulfilments would have good accessibility several solutions for receipt, despatch and delivery.
- Request performance reviews of your managing warehouse, this would indicate how swift and seamless the warehouse is operating.
- Do not entertain any conversation which goes beyond same day or next day. Processing times for a warehouse facility is imperative to your business performance and growth therefor it is essential your fulfilments are rapid
- Low error rate in pick and pack is another factor which should help you determine whether the fulfilment warehouse is good for your business.
- Shipping to your customers should take your managing warehouse at most two days, preferably next day and same day would be a bonus.
Processing returns is a key responsibility of your ecommerce fulfilment warehouse. Enabling your customers to have a seamless return procedure and obtaining a refund is essential to keeping your customers happy, therefor processing a return for your warehouse is key to not only customer happiness but also to drive your sales. Let’s explore why this is.
The quicker your managing warehouse process returns the quicker your customer can receive their refund. This also means that the returning item can be restocked and inventoried for resale again.
Warehouse facilities are usually provided instructions in the form of images, text and video or sample goods to which they can evaluate your returns. Passing or failing returns based on company standards is also a service that fulfilment warehouses provide.
To summarise, employing a warehouse who manages your fulfilments, returns and inventory will prove to be very beneficial for your business, having returning goods not being processed in a timely manner could mean your consumer would lose their confidence in your product and service. Once your managing warehouse are processing the returns in the agrees service levels, fulfilling your order in time on time, you can concentrate in increasing your sales and expanding your business.