With businesses increasingly moving their operations online, it seems the impending end of what we consider the traditional High Street may well be inevitable. E-commerce and online shopping are exploding – particularly in light of the recent Coronavirus.
The savings that can be achieved by running a business online are already well documented. Something a little less apparent is the potential financial savings that can be achieved by engaging with a product fulfillment company.
What is product fulfillment, and how does it work?
In essence, product fulfillment can be loosely defined as everything that happens from the moment an order is placed online to the point where a product arrives with the consumer. In the majority of cases, there are four key stages involved in setting up a product fulfillment company.
Storage and warehousing
The first step is the most crucial – yet will probably feel the most alien too. Rather than keeping stock on-site, the vendor ships their product to a third-party warehousing service. This concept will seem a little strange at first, but it’s central to the idea of another company dealing with your delivery processes – after all, they need to have your product close to hand to ship quickly to consumers.
Responsibilities on your side to make this happen are limited; however, you will need to send a properly formatted inventory to allow for effective tracking on both sides. From there, though, you don’t need to worry much about your product anymore – all processes from this point onward become the responsibility of your fulfillment company.
Finding and picking
When an order is received on your website, it is transferred directly to the fulfillment company. All the details you captured online on your site – i.e., product, color, type, size, quantity, delivery name, and address, etc. – are transferred to the fulfillment company. A member of their staff will then go and select the correct product from their warehouse facility.
Wrapping and packing
Once the order items been selected, they need to be packed. A member of the fulfillment team will get all the items together and securely packaged them up. As you would expect, an order receipt is bundled at the time of packing. Depending on the fulfillment company, you may have the option to use your own branded boxes or tape to further personalize your deliveries. It’s worth noting, fulfillment companies are all different, and you should check if they include the packing component as part of the service (some companies charge on a per-package basis).
Shipping and delivery
With the products packed and boxed, the final step in the process is delivery. Again, companies differ from one another, and you will find some have preferred courier partners while others will check around for the best price, on an ad-hoc basis. It’s worth checking this in advance, so you are aware of how their processes work and the fees involved. Lastly, you should also check whether or not order tracking is included as part of the service. The delivery date is essential to consumers, and most expect regular progress updates.
Reducing responsibility and streamlining processes
In a traditional e-commerce model, these processes would have been largely handled in-house by you and your staff at your company premises. Outsourcing to a product fulfillment company removes these responsibilities and hands them to a third party, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best – selling.
Partnering with a product fulfillment company has the potential to transform your e-commerce operations and improve the way you supply products to your consumers. Search online and find your partner company today.