An ecommerce fulfilment strategy refers to the process of making deliveries to customers after an order is placed in an online store. There are several ways to go about it. Fulfilment involves steps such as receiving, processing, packing, and shipping the orders to the customers. A successful fulfilment strategy ensures that customers receive their orders in a timely and efficient manner, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and repeat orders. Some common ecommerce fulfilment services include using a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, managing in-house fulfilment, or using drop-shipping. The choice of fulfilment strategy depends on various factors such as the size of the business, the type of products sold, the volume of orders, and the shipping options available.
Why ecommerce fulfilment is critical for small businesses
For small businesses, ecommerce fulfilment is important to the operations because of many reasons. The most important is that it establishes trust between the seller and the buyer. The relationship of trust allows for an organic growth of a fledgling industry or a startup. A customer who is satisfied with order fulfilment will most likely return to the seller. This creates a positive sales cycle. The other factors such as competitive pricing, quality products and fast and reliable shipments become compelling arguments for the ecommerce retailer as a result of that bond of trust.
What are different strategies for ecommerce fulfilment
3PL: One of the most cost-effective and reliable strategies for small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses is to partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. A 3PL provider such as Ecom Express can help with ecommerce fulfilment services, including inventory management, order processing, shipping and last-mile delivery with state-of-the-art WMS and OMS. This allows businesses to focus on other areas of their operations, such as marketing and customer service, while the 3PL provider takes care of fulfilment.
Drop Shipping: Drop shipping fulfilment model allows an online store to sell stock items instead of products. When such a retailer sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and ships it directly to the customer. The merchant never handles the product. Drop shipping is a popular ecommerce fulfilment option for small and medium-sized businesses because it eliminates the need to hold inventory, which brings down overhead costs.
Self-Fulfilment: When an online store maintains its inventory and fulfils its orders it is called self-fulfilment. Here, the seller is responsible for storing inventory, picking, packing, and shipping products. This approach gives businesses more control over ecommerce fulfilment services. This system however requires more infrastructure and resources.
eCommerce Platform: An eCommerce platform or a marketplace such as Amazon allows businesses to list their products for sale. The platform is responsible for an order fulfilment service where it handles storage, picking, packing, shipping, and customer service for products sold on their platform. This approach is beneficial for businesses that lack infrastructure. This strategy is a combination of 3PL and drop shipping.
Things to keep in mind for fulfilment services
Delivery speed: Small and medium-sized businesses can achieve traction in business by partnering with reliable shipping carriers and offering same-day or next-day delivery options. It is always better to have a streamlined order processing and fulfilment system that helps fulfil orders quickly and meet customer expectations.
Low-cost and reliable shipping: To keep shipping costs low, small and medium-sized businesses can negotiate discounted rates with shipping carriers, use flat-rate shipping options, or offer free shipping for orders which allows the business of scale. Free shipping for ecommerce fulfilment can also be offered to repeat customers on pre-paid purchases to incentivize return orders.
Warehouse management: Smart inventory management is critical for ecommerce fulfilment. Small and medium-sized businesses should invest in a robust inventory management system that allows them to track inventory levels in real time and optimise stock levels based on customer demand. Using automated systems for order picking can greatly improve efficiency and reduce errors.
Optimise drop size: For ecommerce fulfilment, businesses should optimise their packaging and drop size to avoid surcharges. When it comes to the goal of a small business, ecommerce fulfilment depends largely on minimising shipping costs.
Every online retailer has to invest in ecommerce fulfilment practices since this is one area where investing today gets you long-term benefits. When it comes to small ecommerce, warehouse requirements are not a priority area for operating expenses. This is where an ecommerce fulfilment strategy comes in. The best way a small business can go about ecommerce fulfilment is to opt for a 3PL partner such as Ecom Express for end-to-end fulfilment and accountability. Drop shipping and listing your products on a merchant site is another way inventory costs can be reduced.
As a small or medium-sized business owner, order fulfilment and lack of resources must be limiting your reach. With Ecom Express, you get an all-in-one fulfilment package that allows you control over your product movement, shipping and delivery.
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