With the internet becoming the preferred shopping method of many consumers today, new eCommerce merchants are launching each day. Choosing a niche, setting up a website, marketing it, and seeing the orders begin to roll in is only the first half of the process, as there is a lot more that must happen before an order finally reaches the customer’s doorstep.
Fulfillment refers to the part of the sales process where retailers must fulfill each order, and ship it in the most efficient way possible. This ensures that the customer receives their order in a timely manner, and that it is correct and undamaged. With enough already on their plates, many busy entrepreneurs choose to focus on running their business and marketing campaigns, and they leave their order fulfillment to the 3PL experts.
What Are Fulfillment Services?
Leading fulfillment services providers offer end-to-end 3PL solutions for a variety of businesses, many of which are eCommerce retailers. Each time an order is placed, the products are picked from the shelves of the warehouse or fulfillment center, packaged, and shipped out to the customer.
Additionally, a fulfillment services provider can also manage the following, which we’ll explain in more detail below:
- Continuity orders
- Credit card processing
- Reverse logistics
- Warehouse storage
How else can a fulfillment services provider add value?
In addition to the basics of order fulfillment, here are some of the other ways that fulfillment services can assist eCommerce merchants:
- Payment processing- Fulfillment providers have the capability to fully integrate with payment processors like Authorize.net, FirstData, Google Checkout, PayPal, and more.
- Continuity orders– Also referred to as “subscription boxes,” continuity orders keep eCommerce merchants providers busy these days. The subscription eCommerce market is currently worth over $2.6 billion, with consumers subscribing to receive monthly packages of everything from pet supplies, to cosmetics, to groceries (and just about everything in between). A fulfillment services provider can ensure that these orders reach their destinations on time each week or month.
- Reverse logistics- A streamlined returns process is just as important as having an efficient order fulfillment plan in place, which is why many retailers that outsource fulfillment services also choose to outsource their returns management. With about a third of orders being returned, leaving reverse logistics to the experts result in happier customers and merchants.
- Warehouse storage- No space to store your merchandise at your office or home? No problem! When you outsource fulfillment services and warehousing, you can rest assured that your products will be stored in a secure, temperature-controlled warehouse. If it’s food, beverages, or cosmetics your eCommerce company sells, partnering with an FDA-registered warehouse will ensure that your products stay fresh and safe for consumption.
- Kitting- If you’re selling a product that is often paired with another product, outsourcing to a 3PL services provider that offers kitting and assembly services is the way to go. Having a fulfillment services provider pre-package these products together into kits saves merchants lots of time, money and headache in the long run.