What does fulfillment mean?
For the most part, fulfillment in the ecommerce playfield means a process where the merchant takes steps to deliver an order to the buyer. That is to say, the seller goes an extra mile to streamline their logistics bit of the online business via a smooth order fulfillment process.
Admittedly, nobody wants to see their business hit rock bottom. In order to avoid bad customer reviews and annoying chargebacks, it's prudent to play along with reputable order fulfillment companies.
So why do you need a third-party service?
As you may know, order fulfillment comes with so many procedures which are all essential in a bid to make the order reach a customer's doorstep. Practically speaking, a merchant has to deal with the entire order processing activity which is quite tedious and needs a number of resources. And this is where an order fulfillment platform steps in.
It's unquestionably the right way to go for any merchant. In essence, a fulfillment company offers a couple of services which revolve around making your products ready for shipment. To start with, a merchant needs a warehouse to store their inventory.
Unlike drop shipping, where you actually don't need any inventory, a retailer who deals in physical products which have a global demand, needs a storage location close to where most orders come from. Having said that, you must apprehend that drop shipping, just like any other business needs to bring order fulfillment on board.
As a matter of fact, it's in the best practice to incorporate a third-party service which is tried and tested. If you're into the ecommerce field, you can relate to cart abandonment issues. If we go by numbers, reliable sources indicate that the percentage of cart abandonment lies anywhere between 50% to 80%. Well, the figures might look scary at the first instance.
But here's the truth of the matter.
Most customers shy away from making a purchase if they're skeptical about all delivery options available. Moreover, if a buyer experiences an inconsiderate amount of delay in the order delivery, chances are, they'll not place any other order from the same merchant.
Order Fulfillment Vs Dropshipping
So let's clear the air.
To sharply define the two terms in a clear-cut manner, you ought to bear in mind, the basic fact that both are models used by merchants to reach the products to the end customers. More often than not, retailers might be puzzled by which method, in particular, to incorporate in their businesses.
In actual sense, both order fulfillment and dropshipping, are more or less the same. While fulfilling an order, a merchant can opt to use a third-party service. From this end, it means that they need to store their inventory in another company's warehouse. Alternatively, a merchant can choose to go with dropshipping.
Technically, this is a business model which is quite predominant since it needs a lower startup capital. Here, the products are made and stored by the manufacturer. The process begins once an order is made from the drop shipper's online store. The merchant will later forward the orders to the manufacturer.
The drop shipper purchases all items at a wholesale price and keeps the profit margin. The manufacturer is now left with the task of fulfilling all orders to the customers. From the look of things, it seems like drop shipping is a type of third-party fulfillment. Simply put, it all depends on the retailer's needs. The best part about third-party fulfillment is the fact that you can leverage off their well-established infrastructure.
Here's an illustration
Fulfillment by Amazon(FBA), for instance, has the capacity to help you reach customers globally. In precise terms, Amazon provides fulfillment centers where they pick your products, do custom packaging, and ship the items on your behalf. Keep in mind, customers are always on the hunt for a deal which includes the fastest shipping method.
Do I really need a fulfillment service?
To a greater extent, a 3rd party fulfillment service comes in handy whenever a retailer wants to scale their business. Think of it as an elite strategy to meet the ever-growing customer demand. Most importantly, you ought to take into account all the inventory management operations. You can never go wrong with inventory if you leave it to the experts.
It may be argued that automated fulfillment software helps one optimize your transactions by a significant margin. Let's suppose you depend on 3rd party sales channels such as Shopify, Volusion, 3dcart, or even WooCommerce, it's insightful to use a service which offers flexible integrations.
In point of fact, profound fulfillment services offer quick shopping cart and carrier integrations to nearly all notable companies such as DHL, China Post, UPS, FedEx, just to name a few.
To advance your fulfillment score, you must be sharp-witted when you deal with SKUs(Stock Keeping Units) and minimize all discrepancies as much as possible. No other way around it. More reason why you need a fulfillment service in place.
Besides that, the retailer needs to professionally handle the order processing part of the business. Literary speaking, you need to go back to the drawing board. If things don't add up, that's a red flag which means you must depend on the fulfillment gurus.
Wait. But why?
With the prevalence of cutting-edge technology, you must realize how automation plays center stage in ecommerce. What's more promising, is the fact that shipment tracking gets easier when you hinge on 3rd party fulfillment services. Not forgetting the inventory updates which are done in real time.
Which are some of the top-notch fulfillment companies?
To be candid, ShipStation has really come a long way.
This software lets a user give a run on all its features via a 30-day free trial account. Besides its integration capacity with powerful ecommerce platforms, it connects to popular marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. It has a self-service tracking portal which is open to both the retailer and customers. It's unquestionably a perfect way to build a purchaser's confidence and maintain repeat customers.
ShipStation is prevalent for its low shipping fees. It lets you compare rates from all major carriers including their delivery time. It's apparent that dealing with huge orders is can be overwhelming. As a remedy, ShipStation arms you with a mobile App where you can view all transactions almost immediately.
By the same token, here's a brief snippet of all actions you can do via the App;
- You can check all pending orders
- It gives access to all shipping rates and custom quotes
- A user can view all reports and analytics in real-time
- Handle all orders via Amazon FBA
- Monitor each shipment and receive tracking emails
Its dashboard is beautifully designed to give the user a seamless experience. The software sorts all the data in a proficient way and tracks down all orders instantaneously. Shipstation isn't limited to high-end retailers. It has 6 pricing plans are flexible enough to cover all business sizes.
ShipStation is suitable for any online retailer who deals in large volumes of orders and wants a fulfillment service which does decent packaging, inventory management, and quick integration at a low cost.
Check out our detailed ShipStation review.
What's not to like about ShipBob?
At the forefront of this elite fulfillment service, is the focus to ship orders to your customers just in 2 days. Talking of integration, it's compatible with the high ranking Shopify Plus, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, SquareSpace, and Magento
To put it in context, ShipBob seems like a winning strategy for most ecommerce retailers. Handling inventory has never been easier. Many thanks to the company's ample warehouses which makes it convenient to ship products to customers. Just like Shipmonk, it's absolutely free to handle all orders and manage your inventory on ShipBob.
It does all logistics via its automated system which sorts the inventory in real-time. Principally, ShipBob which boasts of a lion's share in the US market is ideal for any retailer who wants to do custom branding and craving for a fast shipment service.
Since it's inventory management software is cloud-based, this gives you an upper hand when you want to get real-time updates. The reports, revenue forecasts, and analytics are up to the task and bring on board a leeway to make well-thought business decisions. In the long run, what matters most is the capacity to make the most out of insights in an attempt to manage your stock levels.
ShopBob gives a far-reaching experience to an online retailer who's in dire need of trusted carrier companies and a sturdy order fulfillment software. What makes it stand out, is it's order status which shows the retailer if an order is being processed, completed, or canceled. We can't overlook its return processing technique. If the goods sent to the customer are defective or don't match the product description, ShipBob handles the returns in a crafty manner.
Ultimately, ShipBob doesn't disappoint.
Check out our ShipBob review.
In the general run of things, ShipMonk strives to suit your business needs in an intuitive manner. Notably, it comes with proficient API integrations which the retailer can utilize in a number of ways. First, it easily syncs with your online shopping cart and imports all orders which need to be fulfilled.
Secondly, the software is designed to help your e-retail business manage orders in a speedy manner, yet at reasonably priced rates. All charges are accurately captured by its calculator to avoid working with inexact numbers. It doesn't matter what the size of your business is. Shipmonk has a can handle over 10,000 orders per day.
Interesting enough, there is no minimum number of orders. You can comfortably ship one item to your customer. On top of that, this fulfillment service lets you ship your inventory directly from your supplier to their various warehouses.
Shipmonk doesn't charge for a dime for integrations. That's not to say they're not experts at it. Fact is, the software connects to over 100 shopping carts. It pretty much works well with major channels such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and 3dcart. Its order processing is quite distinctive. The software picks out the most appropriate shipping method and identifies whether an item is in stock.
But here's more.
It verifies the address where an ordered item is to be shipped. This mitigates the risk of misplacing a customer's order. In addition, the software automatically sends a tracking number to the customer via email.
If you're on the lookout for a fulfillment service which is designed to help you market your brand, then you should look no further. Shipmonk works it out for you. In furtherance of that, you're able to set guidelines which the company strictly follows while handling the custom packaging.
We all know that returns are so inevitable. On the other hand, they're less painful than chargebacks. Favorably, Shipmonk makes returns part and parcel of the entire fulfillment process.
Aside from ecommerce fulfillment, the software gives access to the following services;
- Subscription Box Fulfillment
- Crowdfunding Fulfillment
- Retail Fulfillment
- Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)
Over and above that, it has a 24/7 customer support which tends to be useful in the event of any hitches you might experience.
Check out our detailed ShipMonk review.
What is Fulfillment? Wrapping Up
All things considered, the retailer needs to make a conscious decision with regards to fulfillment. If you're a newbie in any ecommerce niche, you need to figure out how to smoothly run the shipping process. Businesswise, positive results are seen across the board when both the merchant and customers are happy.
Arguably, it may seem right and sensible to work with a team of experts. In fact, it's of paramount importance to leave everything at the able hands of third-party fulfillment services such as those mentioned above. I would advise any merchant to look for a company which has built its reputation by handling all orders successfully over the years.
And not only that.
Be keen to choose one which comes with a cloud-based software which lets you integrate with your ecommerce channel, probably has a mobile app, and creates real-time reports. Don't feel shy to do a background check to understand how the entire logistics operations are done.