Ecommerce Fulfillment Services
Why it Makes Sense To Outsource
Virtually every type of retail business with an Internet presence will reach the stage, sooner or later, when it requires ecommerce fulfillment services. This applies whether it is a one person enterprise operated from the garage at home, or a multimillion dollar big name retailer. It also includes physical stores which have expanded into online sales, and have quickly discovered that filling customer online orders is very different from handing goods over the counter.
Integrated Fulfillment Process
The concept of order fulfillment warehouses has of course been around for a while, especially in the case of big retail or mail order companies. However, over the last decade, as more and more retailers have gone online, this type of service has evolved from simply receiving orders and sending them out, into a fully integrated process, where the whole passage from placement of orders to receipt of goods by the customer is automated. More and more companies, from the smallest to the largest, are realizing the extent to which ecommerce fulfillment services can now enhance their efficiency and improve their customer service.
Is Outsourcing Fulfillment A Good Fit?
There are many reasons why retailers of any size are finding these services indispensable. In the case of a small startup, the retailer’s priority has to be to promote the brand, and build up the customer base. Trying to process, pack and ship orders will soon prove to be so exhausting and time consuming that everything else will be crowded out. In fact, it may well prove to be impossible for one person to keep up with the orders, let alone deal with incoming orders and queries, which would result in customer dissatisfaction and loss of business. Ecommerce fulfillment services can take all this on, leaving business owners to focus on what they can do best.
For the medium sized or larger business, with an online store offering a large and varied product range, the fulfillment process is even more complex, and it makes even more sense to outsource this to the specialist. Although there may be more employed staff, they will not be expert in these processes, so that not only will the processes take up an excessive amount of time, but there is more likelihood of errors creeping in. The more errors and delays that take place, the more damaging it is for the business. Using ecommerce fulfillment services can ensure that these problems are avoided, and that staff are deployed in the most cost-effective way.
If you have decided to look at ecommerce fulfillment services, you need to be clear about how to choose the right one for your business. First and foremost, you need to ensure that the company you choose can handle your product category. If you have a range of products, it is important that the company has the facilities to accommodate your specialized requirements in each category – whether it is, for example, apparel, food and drink, or fragile items such as artwork. You also need a company which has a strong network of relationships across the logistics and fulfillment industries, so that they are able to negotiate competitive rates with providers such as transport companies. In addition, you need to ensure that the company is scalable, so that it can grow as you grow, and handle your requirements both now and in the future.
Choosing a Ecommerce Fulfillment Company
Probably the most essential factor of all in choosing among ecommerce fulfillment services is to look for the ability to provide a seamless and efficient flow from the moment the order is received at the checkout, so that it is automatically received at the warehouse, and the packing, shipping and delivery are all automated. There should be digital tracking with bar codes, and a web based application enabling customers to log on at any time to check the exact status of their orders. The best services will make the flow even more seamless, and ensure that your ordering process is fully integrated with your whole ecommerce operation, by providing a whole range of ecommerce applications including web development and SEO services, thus guaranteeing the maximum efficiency. This would mean that your shopping cart, payment processing and accounting systems were all taken care of by a single provider, who might also handle your marketing and promotion and customer contact centers in addition.
Industry reports consistently indicate that online retail is growing at a rapid rate, and competition within sectors is intensifying all the time. Ecommerce fulfillment services are one of the most important ways of improving your efficiency, and thus sharpening your competitive edge. By ensuring your customers are delighted not only with the product, but with the service they receive, you can virtually guarantee a growing brand reputation, and steadily increasing profitability.