Additionally, What is the Fulfilment Process?
By Definition: Fulfilment is the process of receiving, packaging and shipping order for goods (Entrepreneur.com)
Fulfilment services are business processes often outsourced to fulfilment companies also known as fulfilment houses. These businesses are third party services that take care of fulfilling client orders on the business owner's behalf.
What's involved in the fulfilment process?
- Data Processing & Order Processing
- Storage & Warehousing
- Inventory Management
- Pick and Pack
- Customer Services
- and more...
The fulfilment process begins by receiving the products from the clients supplier, storing the clients inventory, receiving the orders from the clients sales pipeline, picking and packaging the orders as they come through and sending them off via post. Fulfilment can additionally include payment processing, customer service handling and returns handling.
Note: Fulfilment services can be used outside of ecommerce in other areas such as response handling, promotional fulfilment and even market research.
Who can use Fulfilment Solutions?
- Market Research
- Promotional Marketing
- Direct Mail
- and more...
1st Option: In-House Fulfilment
It's quite common for businesses to handle their own fulfilment, but as time progresses and the sales grow, in-house fulfilment can eat away valuable time that could be spent on growth related activities as well as cost you financially. Keep in mind as your business and sales volumes grow so will your need for additional storage space and staff.
Growth Related Activities: These activities could be anything from product research and development, marketing and or promotional campaigns.
2nd Option: Outsource to Fulfilment House
A fulfilment house can free up your time by allowing them to take on your daily business processes. Businesses who switch to using a fulfilment house enjoy the seasonal flexibility, lower shipping costs and convert fixed costs to variable costs.
When the holiday seasonal rush is right around the corner businesses no longer need to stress and worry about taking on temporary staff to support the influx of demand. This also means that those businesses do not need to worry about training new staff and or purchase new equipment to keep up with the rush and when the rush dies down their are no excess employees or idle equipment.
Lower Shipping Costs:
Since shipping is a key service that most all fulfilment houses dabble in, their mail volumes grant them the ability to get lower mailing rates that your business might not be able to negotiate.
Convert Fixed Costs to Variable Costs:
Storage facilities regardless if they are purchased or leased come attached with fixed costs. Some fixed costs could be rent, heating / air conditioning, plumbing and security services to name a few.
Basic Fulfilment Solutions include
WarehousingThe fulfilment house should be able to store your goods safely and secure in their storage facilities.
When you store your products with a fulfilment house they will generally monitor your stock levels and communicate when the need arises for stock replenishment.
Order ProcessingHow your orders get passed onto your fulfilment provider. This can be done either by API integration, Direct Download and or CSV just to name a few possibilities. Once the order has been received by the fulfilment house, the fulfilment team will process the order by first selecting the ordered products from your stored stock and package the products then sending them out to the identified customer on the order.
Returns & ExchangesIn the event an order is processed and the customer is not satisfied its common that most fulfilment houses to handle customer returns. The fulfilment house can process returns, examine returned items and determine if they can be resold and of course replace the faulty and or damaged product or refund the order.
By Erik Miller
The Invisible Link- Between your business and its customers