What is a Fulfilment Centre?

05 June, 2019
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If you’re considering outsourcing your e-commerce order fulfilment, you’ll need to partner with a service provider who has a fulfilment centre in an optimal location for your business, one that has the capacity to house your inventory and ship it out accordingly. But what really is a fulfilment centre and what happens in one?

Definition:

A fulfilment centre is essentially a physical facility that warehouses and dispatches the products you sell online. The order fulfilment service provider should have the necessary technology to integrate with your e-commerce platform in order to take over your shipping responsibilities.

Your products will be picked, packaged, labelled and sent out by trained staff members whose responsibility it is to ensure that the order is sent out as per the postage specification of the purchaser and arrives at their desired delivery location in perfect condition. Some fulfilment centres will also handle returns, kitting, labelling and offer cross-docking services.

In exchange, your business will pay a premium depending on the combination of services you require.


Why is choosing the right one so important?

One of the main reasons your business would look to delegate order fulfilment to a third-party is because you recognise the importance of prioritising the quality of the experience your customers receive when they make a purchase from your website.

Often, small-to-medium organisations will try to take on too many tasks as their business grows in a bid to stay in control of their budget and ensure that their customers are served to the standards they have set. However, this is not always sustainable as the limitation of the size of your own facility, the lack of human resources, and the sheer cost of operating a full-scale dispatch centre that grows with your business will not yield the required return on investment to make it feasible.

If your business is looking to expand internationally, it’s critical to choose a fulfilment centre that has the experience, access to international shipment networks and up-to-date knowledge of restrictions and global shipping timing in order to package and ship to your desired markets. For example, Asendia’s e-commerce fulfilment centre in Bedford ships parcels globally to over 220 destinations. Our 63,000sq.ft facility offers solutions to businesses in e-commerce retailing, publishing, tourism, FMCG and charity sectors.


Defining features of the ideal order fulfilment centre:

  • Has the ability to scale your business in the future and handle new additions to your range of products with limited complications.
  • Offers a reliable and efficient returns service.
  • Can integrate with your existing e-commerce software.
  • Will train staff to pick, package and ship your products to the standard you require.
  • The warehouse solution they offer is suitable for the type of product you sell and the type of customer you serve. For example, B2B merchants are more likely to require the kind of warehousing that facilitates wholesale or large volumes of inventory. This means that the fulfilment centre your business needs has to have the necessary equipment and storage options for your particular product.
  • The fulfilment centre is in a location that you are easily able to stock with your inventory but is also capable of easily dispatching to the destinations you sell to.
  • The shipment model and the time specifications in which they are able to ship your products align with what your business advertises and promises to its customers.
  • Flexible enough to accommodate the peak and troughs in your sales.
  • Has strong relationships with a variety of shipping carriers in order to get your products directly to your customers.
  • Can manage your inventory and keep you up to date with trends, helping you to prepare your stock levels for seasonal shopping spikes.
  • Operates modern technology that will document the status of your inventory and keep customers up to date with the stage their order is at in the delivery process.
  • Is able to accommodate your needs for an agreed price that fits into your budget.
  • Has a proven track record with businesses in your field.
  • Is able to offer high-quality customer service support that minimises friction by taking a proactive approach to finding resolutions.
  • Offers transparency and visibility of their process so that you can rest assured your products are handled and sent out in a way that positively reflects on your business.

Taking on an e-commerce order fulfilment partner is a big step for any business. It’s an investment in your business’ growth and should be an experience that opens up your schedule, enabling you to focus on other key areas of your organisation. With Asendia, you have peace of mind that your inventory is in good hands at our modern and fully equipped fulfilment centre. We’re ready to take your business to the next level, nationally, and beyond, so give us a call to discuss how our services could change the way your business delivers high-quality order fulfilment.