eCommerce businesses were responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales in 2017, and that number is expected to reach a whopping $4.5 trillion by 2021. There are millions of growing online businesses out there contributing to these high numbers. But, while it’s clear there is a lot of competition in this industry, the most successful eCommerce sellers all have one thing in common. Drum roll please...
Great eCommerce fulfillment! Yup, it’s true. While fulfillment often may be overlooked, it’s a crucial element of any successful eCommerce business.
What is eCommerce Fulfillment?
Fulfillment is the process of delivering the products your customers order online.
While any company selling products directly to consumers through the mail must deal with fulfillment, this term is most often associated with eCommerce businesses.
However, eCommerce fulfillment (when done correctly) involves a lot more than just shipping products. There are four basic components of the e-fulfillment process:
- eCommerce store and fulfillment center integration
- Receiving and inventory management
- Order fulfillment
- Returns processing
Who Handles eCommerce Order Fulfillment?
eCommerce businesses can either outsource fulfillment or handle it in-house. Outsourcing your fulfillment makes your business more agile, minimizes risk, and is often the more cost-effective option. Since eCommerce sellers don’t have a brick-and-mortar store to house their inventory, having a fulfillment provider who can hold your products in their warehouse is incredibly beneficial. It saves you from having to pay for real estate costs and storage space yourself!
So how does the process work? It’s simple—you’ll send your merchandise to your fulfillment company’s warehouse. Then, when an order is placed online, they’ll pull that product off the shelves, package it up, and send it off to the customer!
Why Do eCommerce Businesses Need Effective Fulfillment Services?
You could have the best product, website, and eCommerce platform in the world—but a poor fulfilment experience could ruin your customer experience and the potential for future revenue from repeat buyers.
How? Let’s look at four major reasons you need effective fulfillment services!
4 Key Reasons You Need Effective Fulfillment Services
1. To Align with Consumer Preferences
Thanks to modern technology, consumer preferences have shifted over the last couple of years. Now that Amazon Prime-speed shipping is the new norm, consumers have higher expectations than ever on delivery timelines.
When someone buys something online, they don’t want to have to wait a week to get their package—they’re expecting it within a few days tops.
In fact, 47% of respondents in a recent study said they would be willing to pay extra for same- or next-day delivery, and a whopping 74% of consumers who received same-day delivery said they’d be more likely to purchase from that company again.
Your eCommerce business moves fast, so you need a fulfillment provider who can move at the same speed. Getting your products out the door and on the way to their final destination as quickly and efficiently as possible is essential for success. If your shipping speeds are slow, your customers simply won’t buy from you again. Instead, they’ll turn to the competition who can deliver—literally—on the shipping timelines they’re expecting.
2. To Improve Accountability
Today’s consumers are also demanding more transparency and accountability from the brands they buy from. For example, let’s say your website boasts that you have guaranteed two-day shipping. If your fulfillment company isn’t actually able to deliver on that timeline, your customers won’t be very happy when they’re sitting around waiting for a package they expected to arrive days ago. If they decide to call you up to inquire about where their package is, but you aren’t able to tell them because your fulfillment provider doesn’t give you visibility into their shipping processes, they’ll be even less thrilled.
This negative customer experience can prevent your customers from ever buying from you again. Furthermore, they could leave a negative review online about your slow shipping speeds, lack of transparency, and unkept promises that could prevent new customers from giving your eCommerce business a chance. So, the key here is to not make promises you can’t fulfill. Working with a fulfillment provider who can guarantee predictable, accurate, and timely fulfillment will full visibility equals a better customer experience—resulting in happier customers and more positive reviews.
3. To Stand out from the Competition with a Better Customer Experience
With millions of eCommerce businesses out there, you need a way to differentiate. By aligning your fulfillment services to meet modern consumer preferences (like the fast shipping speeds and increased transparency we just discussed), you can deliver the customer experience your buyers are actually looking for. This can give you a huge competitive advantage over other eCommerce businesses who are simply ignoring changing consumer preferences, or simply don’t have the resources to meet them.
Providing a smooth, seamless customer experience is so valuable because it can turn one-time buyers into repeat, loyal customers who are advocates for your brand. After all, if a customer has an amazing experience buying from your brand, next time they need something you offer, why would they even bother looking at the competition? This can help you drive additional revenue through repeat business, making it possible to meet your business growth goals sooner!
4. To Improve Efficiency While Decreasing Costs
Robust eCommerce fulfillment processes will help your business become more efficient while saving you time and money. Plus, a positive fulfillment experience that translates into a great customer experience will help you attract new customers and better satisfy your existing ones. Between the cost savings of outsourcing effective fulfillment services and the additional revenue from repeat customers, you can put that extra income back into your business.
For example, you could invest in developing a new product, increase your marketing budget, hire additional employees, or allocate more resources towards your customer service initiatives. At the end of the day, eCommerce order fulfillment isn’t just about shipping products. If done correctly, it can be a powerful way to realize higher profit margins that makes it possible to expand your business faster and with ease!
Take Advantage of the Best eCommerce Fulfillment Experience
Effective eCommerce fulfillment can help you align with shifting consumer preferences, deliver a better customer experience, generate more revenue, and reduce costs. The end result? Happier customers and more money to expand your growing online business even faster!
However, it's important to keep in mind that you won’t experience the benefits of effective fulfillment services if you go with just any eCommerce fulfillment provider out there. It’s essential to choose one that truly understands your business, its goals, and your customers. The right eCommerce fulfillment partner should feel like an extension of your own business!
The Fulfillment Lab is here to be that end-to-end eCommerce fulfillment partner. Our cutting-edge, proprietary fulfillment software was designed to change the way fulfillment is handled and meet the needs of modern, growing online businesses just like yours. There’s simply nothing like our system and approach on the planet. Ready to experience it for yourself?
Contact us to learn more or go ahead and try our Global Fulfillment System™ for yourself today! It’s simple, fast, and intuitive to use. In fact, you can get set up with our fulfillment services and start shipping all on your own in just a few clicks. Now that’s moving at the speed of eCommerce!