eCommerce Fulfillment Services

When you run an ecommerce business online, stocking products consumers want is only part of the equation. In fact, that may be the easy part. The real key to achieving ecommerce success lies in the ecommerce fulfillment process: getting your merchandise from you to your customers quickly and safely.

Ecommerce has exploded in popularity in recent years. Competition is fierce and buyer expectations have never been higher. Customers want–or even expect– reliable, lightning-fast fulfillment at little to no cost. Delivering on these expectations can be the difference between success and failure for your ecommerce business.

Yes, managing supply chain operations is an integral part of any thriving online business, but you don’t need to do it on your own. Unless you are a very small operation with just a few SKUs, you will probably look to outsourced eCommerce fulfillment services for order handling and shipping. Outsourced fulfillment allows you to concentrate on your core business operations while the logistics of delivery and customer satisfaction are handled efficiently by your 3PL provider.

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ECommerce Fulfillment Services

So, what exactly are “eCommerce fulfillment services”? This phrase  is used for a collection of services, activities, and workflows that businesses rely on to store their inventory, package products, and ship orders to customers. It’s a critical aspect of the eCommerce business model. Third-party warehousing and fulfillment are typically managed by logistics companies.

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The Old Way vs The New Way

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The Importance of eCommerce Fulfillment Services

With a growing number of consumers preferring to shop online, the world of eCommerce is continuously expanding. This makes an efficient and robust fulfillment process more important than ever. ECommerce fulfillment services not only ensure speedy delivery of orders, but can also help businesses scale their operations and enhance the overall customer experience.

At WSI, we understand the critical importance of finding a fulfillment service providert that you trust. Thanks to our nationwide distribution network, and decades of experience at every step of the distribution and fulfillment cycle, we have earned the trust of many enterprise-level online retailers including Wayfair, Best Buy, Overstock, Lowe’s, Target, and more. These nationwide brands rely on our premium eCommerce fulfillment services and you can, too.  We will ensure your products reach your customers efficiently, reliably, and on time, allowing you to focus on other essential aspects of your business.

Understanding eCommerce Fulfillment Services

While “eCommerce” refers to the buying and selling of goods or services online, fulfillment is simply the process that ensures these goods or services are delivered to the customer. Without robust fulfillment operations, an online business cannot thrive.

ECommerce fulfillment services involve several steps – from receiving and storing products at the warehouse, to packing and shipping an order once it’s placed. They also handle returns and exchanges, making the process hassle-free for both the business and its customers.

In the supply chain, eCommerce fulfillment services act as the bridge between the online store and the customer, ensuring the right products are picked from inventory, packaged securely, and shipped promptly.

Benefits of Outsourced eCommerce Fulfillment Services

The choice between outsourcing your fulfillment operations or keeping them in-house is a crucial juncture for any online business. Thus, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of third-party fulfillment against the goals of your business and its available resources. 

There are many benefits to outsourcing eCommerce fulfillment services, including: scalability, cost-efficiency, operational efficiency, and speed. Improved order packaging and enhanced shipping reliability and accuracy helps enhance customer satisfaction. The result? Greater consumer trust, repeat purchases, and loyal customers. Outsourcing may also reduce operational costs, improving your business’s profitability.

Scalability of labor during peak seasons and access to advanced technology and expertise are other significant advantages to partnering with an outsourced fulfillment service provider. These allow even the smallest eCommerce operations to leverage the massive scale of their partners and punch well above their weight. 

At WSI, we integrate these benefits seamlessly into our services. Across a large family of companies, our extensive network and experienced team offer a broad range of solutions for eCommerce businesses of any size. We take pride in leveraging all of that to offer you a scalable third-party warehousing and fulfillment solution that grows with your business.

Overview of eCommerce Fulfillment Services

ECommerce fulfillment services offer several features that cater to different aspects of the supply chain, along with various benefits and potential drawbacks. 

Popular Features of ECommerce Fulfillment Services

  1. Inventory Management: Most eCommerce fulfillment services provide advanced inventory management features. This includes real-time tracking of stock levels, demand forecasting, and low-stock alerts to prevent stockouts. For instance, our warehouse inventory management service keeps track of every SKU at all times, allowing our clients to manage inventory with pinpoint accuracy.
  2. Multi-Channel Fulfillment: Some fulfillment services offer multi-channel fulfillment, allowing businesses to manage orders from different sales channels (such as Amazon, eBay, or a business’s own website) in one place. This consolidation enables far greater efficiency when it comes to eCommerce fulfillment.

Advanced Technology: Most large fulfillment service providers use advanced technologies for order tracking, warehouse management, and data analytics. Shopify Fulfillment Network, for example, uses machine learning to predict demand and manage inventory. (Of course, this does have its limitations).

Drawbacks of Commerce Fulfillment Services

    1. Lack of Control: When you outsource fulfillment, you do lose some control over the process. This can result in potential issues with product handling or customer service. For example, in 2020, several sellers on Amazon reported problems with inventory misplacement within Amazon’s fulfillment centers resulting in incorrect orders.
    1. Costs: While these services can save costs in the long run, smaller businesses may find the initial fees associated with fulfillment services to be preventatively high. Transferring inventory and setting up the appropriate shopping cart integrations may require some upfront costs in addition to storage, and order processing.

    Integration Issues: Some eCommerce platforms may not integrate smoothly with certain fulfillment services, leading to potential issues with order tracking and inventory management.

Hire a 3PL Provider for Order Fulfillment

There’s a lot that goes into building a successful eCommerce company. A great product, a strong marketing campaign and getting products to customers as quickly as possible.

But as your company continues to grow, you’ll have a harder time keeping your fulfillment in-house. At some point, you’ll need to expand your logistical operations––either to keep up with increasing demand, because you want to expand your customer base, or both.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by outsourcing your supply chain to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. This will help save time and money while allowing you to free up internal resources that can be used for other important operations (like sales, marketing, and product development).

Benefits of ECommerce Fulfillment Services

  1. Efficiency: Ecommerce fulfillment services can handle large volumes of orders quickly and accurately. Case in point, WSI’s sophisticated fulfillment system and massive scale (14 million square feet of operation facilities nationwide) allow us to process thousands of orders daily, delivering products to customers swiftly and efficiently.
  2. Scalability: During peak seasons like holidays and special promotional events, businesses often experience a surge in orders. Fulfillment services help to scale operations seamlessly during these periods, allowing an eCommerce business to smoothly navigate an otherwise-disruptive time. For instance, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, our WSI fulfillment centers can process tens of thousands of orders without compromising on delivery times through careful labor planning.
  3. Cost Savings: Outsourcing fulfillment allows businesses to save on the costs of maintaining a warehouse, hiring staff, and investing in logistics technology. A great example is Dollar Shave Club, which managed to reduce its overall logistics cost significantly after outsourcing its fulfillment to a third-party provider.

How to Choose the Right eCommerce Fulfillment Service

Choosing the right eCommerce fulfillment service is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your business’s success. Here are some factors you should consider when making this decision:

  1. Delivery Speed: Consider the location of their warehouse and the average time it takes for the fulfillment service to deliver orders to customers. Fast, reliable delivery times can enhance customer satisfaction, boost repeat purchases and build lasting brand loyalty.
  2. Cost: Evaluate the cost structure of the service. Does it provide clear pricing? Do you pay per transaction or is there a cost plus option? Is storage separate from handling, or do you pay a flat fee? Don’t forget to consider the hidden cost of staying with an existing fulfillment set up that doesn’t meet your needs.
  3. Technology: Does the fulfillment service have the technology required to manage inventory, track orders, and gather/interpret data? These tools provide useful insights that help further optimize your fulfillment.
  4. Customer Service: It’s vital to choose a service that provides reliable customer support, ready to address your concerns or problems promptly and effectively.

The right eCommerce fulfillment service should also offer seamless integration with their clients, multi-channel fulfillment, and access to multiple fulfillment warehouses. Seamless integrations ensure that the service can connect smoothly to your eCommerce platform, while multi-channel fulfillment allows you to manage orders from different sales channels in one place. Multiple fulfillment warehouses mean your products are stored closer to your customers, leading to quicker, more reliable delivery.

At WSI, we understand that choosing the right eCommerce fulfillment service can be challenging. Our expert team is here to help guide you through this process, ensuring that you select a service that aligns perfectly with your business needs and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do eCommerce fulfillment services work?

Ecommerce fulfillment services streamline the process of getting your products from the warehouse to the customer. They handle inventory management, order processing, packing, shipping, and customer returns. Once an order is placed on your online store, it’s forwarded to the fulfillment service, which picks, packs, and ships the order directly to the customer.

What are the benefits of using an eCommerce fulfillment service?

Benefits include improved efficiency and speed of order delivery, enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced operational costs, greater focus on core business operations, scalability during peak seasons, and access to advanced technology and expertise.

How much do eCommerce fulfillment services cost?

Costs vary depending on the service provider, the volume of your orders, storage needs, and the complexity of your shipping needs. Common charges include receiving fees, storage fees, and order fulfillment fees (pick and pack, shipping). Some providers may also charge for additional services like kitting or custom packaging.

What should I look for when choosing an ecommerce fulfillment service?

Key factors to consider include the provider’s shipping speed, range of services, pricing structure, reliability, scalability, technology and integration capabilities, and the geographical coverage of their warehouse network.

Can I use an ecommerce fulfillment service for international shipping?

Yes, many ecommerce fulfillment services handle international shipping, managing customs and import taxes on behalf of your business. However, ensure this is part of their service offering before choosing a provider.

How can ecommerce fulfillment services enhance customer experience?

Fulfillment services can improve the customer experience by ensuring fast, reliable delivery, professional packaging, accurate tracking, and hassle-free returns and exchanges. These factors significantly contribute to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What are the best ecommerce fulfillment services available in the market?

Several reputable fulfillment services include Amazon FBA, Shopify Fulfillment Network, or The best service for your business will depend on your specific needs and objectives.

How does inventory management work with an ecommerce fulfillment service?

Fulfillment services typically use advanced systems to track and manage your inventory in real-time. They receive and store your products in their warehouses, updating stock levels as orders are processed. Some services also provide demand forecasting and low-stock alerts.

How does an ecommerce fulfillment service handle returns and exchanges?

Fulfillment services manage returns by receiving the returned items, inspecting them for damage, and restocking them. They can also process exchanges by shipping out replacement items to customers. This process is typically governed by your business’s return policy.

How do eCommerce fulfillment services affect delivery speed?

A good eCommerce fulfillment service can significantly improve delivery speed. They have efficient picking, packing, and shipping processes, and their network of warehouses often allows for quicker delivery to customers in various locations.

How does a small business benefit from an eCommerce fulfillment service?

Small businesses can benefit by saving time and resources, as the fulfillment service handles storage, packing, shipping, and returns. It also allows small businesses to scale rapidly without large investments in warehousing and logistics.

How can eCommerce fulfillment services help in scaling my business?

ECommerce fulfillment services can handle increased order volumes during peak seasons or business growth. They can easily adjust to fluctuations in order volume, freeing you from having to manage extra staff, equipment, and warehouse space.

Ready to Outsource eCommerce Fulfillment?

In today’s dynamic eCommerce landscape, reliable and efficient fulfillment services are indispensable. By improving efficiency, reducing operational costs, and providing scalability, these vital services contribute significantly to the growth and success of any online business.

As a world-class eCommerce fulfillment services provider, WSI takes pride in leveraging our scale and experience to support eCommerce businesses of all sizes. To learn more, simply reach out to one of our expert team members today.

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