Launching your e-commerce business is an exciting, and often expensive time. It's tempting to take everything on yourself. You feel compelled to understand all the processes that operate within your business so that you can monitor and control your budget. You may also feel reluctant to entrust a third party affiliate with an essential part of your service; after all, they may not have the same vested interest in your brand. These concerns aren't unfounded, but as your business grows, there will come a time when you either have to invest in more internal resources to cope with the demand, or you will need to lean on a reputable partner to help you scale.
Since reliable order fulfilment is one of the defining features of a successful online retailer, this is a key area to address right from the start. Dispatching orders yourself may lead to huge problems down the line, especially once your staff and warehouse reach capacity. What's more, there are hidden costs which may force you to increase shipment prices for customers and, ultimately, lose their favour.
What is e-commerce fulfilment?
Order fulfilment for your e-commerce business is the process of storing your goods, picking and packing the items when an order has been placed online, and shipping them to the customer.
How do I fulfil an e-commerce order?
Your order fulfilment process will depend on the technology you use to connect your website to your warehouse or third-party order fulfilment partner.
Once the buyer has completed their purchase online, information about the order is sent to the warehouse where dispatchers will check the inventory levels to ensure that the item is in stock. The goods are then picked from their allocated storage locations, packaged appropriately and labelled with the correct address and courier instructions.
Warehousing staff will also ensure that any promotional inserts or extra information to enhance the customer's experience are included. When all of these steps have been completed, the order is ready to ship. If you're doing this yourself, it means that you will have to visit your local post office or courier. Alternatively, you may create a standing arrangement where your orders are collected from your premises.
The factors that make it more expensive
For online retailers that are just starting out, there's a high level of uncertainty around key areas such as how much inventory you will commit to housing and whether you have space to not only store your stock but also organise it in a way that makes it easy and cost-effective to manage. It's not uncommon for inventory to get lost or misplaced when there isn't adequate space to organise everything effectively, causing disappointment for customers and further expense as you scramble to order more from your supplier. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the chance that you may overspeculate on demand and invest in a commercial property that doesn't yet match your incoming revenue, causing you more expense.
A third-party e-commerce fulfilment partner provides you with the opportunity to scale up or down according to the demands of your market. This means that during peak periods, you're secure in the knowledge that you have adequate inventory and enough staff to manage order fulfilment within the turnaround times you've promised your customers.
Hiccups in your dispatch process will affect the customer experience. An order fulfilment partner will be obligated to dispatch your orders within the agreed time frames, meaning that if your customers expect next day delivery, a set shipping price, and real-time communication about their delivery, you can rest assured that your third-party partner will be taking care of this.
When you find the right order fulfilment partner for your business, you can limit damage to goods during handling or mistakes which may cost you time and money. This is because third-party order fulfilment partners will have a tried and tested protocol, as well as all the necessary equipment to ensure that your goods are handled and shipped with care.
Whether your customers are national or international, an e-commerce fulfilment partner is likely to have multiple locations from which they will ship your goods. This means you can always fulfil your shipment promises according to the delivery dates stated on your website. If you accept international returns, your third-party partner will also be able to facilitate this and make it easier and more cost-effective for both you and the customer.
What is the fulfilment process with Asendia?
As an established international order fulfilment courier, we've developed our infrastructure and processes to handle a wide variety of inventory types as well as print media publications. We're trusted by some of the world's leading brands to pick, pack, and ship their goods to customers all around the world. We provide industry-leading inventory management solutions and can handle as much or as little of your service as you require, including customer care and returns processing.
If you're a growing business looking to kick off your e-commerce journey by providing your customers with a high-quality order fulfilment experience, speak to Asendia today.