The definition of e-fulfillment
Modern e-commerce is inconceivable without e-fulfilment. The term comes from English and means “fulfilment” or “execution” in German.
E-commerce fulfilment generally describes all processes that occur after an order has been placed, such as packaging goods and products, franking shipments and shipping to the end customer. In other words, the retailer commissions an external service provider with various logistics tasks, very much in the spirit of business process outsourcing.
Thanks to e-fulfilment, orders can be processed quickly and smoothly without using internal labour resources. So if you want to have more satisfied customers when trading online, e-fulfilment is a practical solution.
Another advantage is that by hiring a fulfilment service provider to handle the necessary logistical tasks, you can spend more time developing your online shop.
Outsourcing order fulfilment is a typical process in e-commerce fulfilment. Here, an external fulfilment provider takes over either all the logistics of an online shop or only a part of it.
The fulfilment service in e-commerce thus includes all logistics services: Storage of goods, acceptance of orders, picking, packaging, shipping, etc. A fulfilment service provider can also provide additional services, such as complaints handling, returns management, advertising, depending on which activities are desired within the framework of business process outsourcing.
E-commerce fulfillment: services and benefits
The scope of e-commerce fulfilment services depends, among other things, on the provider. The fulfilment service can include both direct logistical activities and other related activities:
- Delivery of goods from suppliers to the warehouse
- Receiving goods, checking for defects
- Storage of goods
- Picking and packing
- Delivery of orders to customers
- Acceptance of payments
- Customer service (management of returns, negative feedback from customers)
- Photo and video recording of product descriptions
- Monitoring of orders
- Call centre operation
- Informing customers about delivery via SMS, email and social networks
- Web promotion
- Creation of promotional materials: banners, branding, graphics
It is not necessary to hand over the entire logistics cycle to a fulfilment provider. Alternatively, one can commission individual services and pay for them separately.
A fulfilment service provider enables a fast logistics process, from storage to handover to the customer. Fulfillment service through outsourcing offers several advantages for those who are just starting their online business as well as for experienced merchants.
For start-ups in particular, e-fulfilment is an opportunity to avoid mistakes and financial losses in the start-up phase of the business, and to avoid negative feedback due to low-quality packaging or late deliveries.
For experienced retailers, e-commerce fulfilment is an effective way to sell at competitive prices. This is because the logistics effort affects the total cost of goods. If the logistics process is not regulated, these can be very high. Thanks to the services of a professional fulfilment provider, you can keep a better eye on them.
Key benefits of e-commerce fulfilment include:
- Boosting online commerce: Outsourcing logistics tasks to a fulfilment provider leaves more time for other tasks, such as marketing efforts or new product launches.
- Reduced financial costs: Having a fulfilment provider take care of the storage, packaging or delivery of orders eliminates the need for the retailer to rent their own warehouse, hire additional staff, buy equipment or packaging that meets the requirements of the trading venue.
- Improved quality of service: Established fulfilment operators offer quality packaging, prompt delivery and timely handling of customer objections. Thus, the fulfilment service contributes to higher customer satisfaction. Depending on the season, the number of orders can fluctuate greatly. Proven fulfilment service providers ensure high quality even at peak times.
The bottom line: With the help of e-commerce fulfilment, online retailers can scale their business, optimise their logistics processes and expand distribution geographically to a neighbouring region or country.
Choosing a fulfillment service provider
Each fulfilment provider develops its individual service offering in the area of e-commerce. Regardless of the individual portfolio, these service providers are also called fulfilment centres.
Some providers only deal with basic operations; others cover the entire logistics cycle, including payment acceptance, product photography, website content, call centres and other additional fulfilment services.
However, there is one commonality: professional fulfilment service providers feature established algorithms for product preparation and cooperation with carriers. This ensures that your customers receive each order as quickly as possible.
As a rule, the fulfilment costs for services from external providers are lower than maintaining your own warehouse with permanent full-time staff.
For an efficient logistics chain, you need to choose a professional and reliable fulfilment partner.
The e-commerce market is oversaturated with offers. So how do you find the right fulfilment centre? Before you decide on an external operator, you need to calculate all possible costs and possible risks.
These factors should be considered when choosing a fulfilment provider:
- Location, size and layout of warehouses: Find out whether the technical and spatial conditions allow for the desired storage of goods, especially if you need special conditions, e.g. with regard to temperature regulations. Preferably, the available space should be large and the fulfilment warehouse should be in a convenient location. It is also important to know how secure the storage space is or how well your goods are protected from break-in or damage.
- Services offered: Ask what services the preferred operator offers beyond basic fulfilment services: these can be beneficial for your e-commerce as well. The key question is: what rates and packages does the fulfilment provider offer?
- Transparency in billing and charging: analyse how much you will pay and for what. Compare your current logistics spend with the fulfilment costs of the operator you want to hire.
- Technical options: Find out how automated the processes are for providing the fulfilment services you want. Is it possible to link the IT system to your website? Is there video surveillance in the warehouse to control the execution of collection, packing of orders, etc.?
- Delivery problems: Find out in advance the average delivery time for your orders. Clarify which courier services and transport companies the fulfilment provider works with.
Before signing the contract, you should explain your needs and specifics of the business processes in the online shop to the potential fulfilment partner. This way you can choose fulfilment services in the scope that best suits your needs. The more services the fulfilment partner offers, the better it is, because in this case you can flexibly adjust the services according to your needs.
When choosing e-commerce fulfilment through outsourcing, you should additionally check how long the company has been in the market, what references it has, what its reputation is and what kind of staff it employs. The number of employees, for example, can have an impact on the speed with which orders are processed and delivered.
It is important that the contract with the fulfilment service provider specifies the following:
- Format and deadline for submission of order fulfilment requests
- Deadline for completing the tasks specified by the fulfilment provider
- A pricing schedule or specific formula for calculating fulfilment costs for individual services
- Technical details of integration with your website or system implementation
Our service: Comprehensive comparison of fulfillment providers on MyFracht.com
If you have decided to take advantage of e-commerce fulfilment for your online trade and manage your logistics through outsourcing, the first step is to select a reliable fulfilment service provider. There are many criteria to consider.
Are you looking for a suitable fulfilment partner, but comparing the services of different providers seems too time-consuming? We have the solution: simply use our free comparison service!
We check the services of various fulfilment providers according to your criteria so that you quickly have a detailed overview and can make a decision.
This is how easy it is to compare fulfilment providers on MyFracht.com:
1. you complete the enquiry form for the calculation of the fulfilment costs, specifying:
- desired localisation of your fulfilment service (this can be one country, multiple countries or a region);
- space requirements for your warehouse;
- number of shipments per month.
2. taking these parameters into account, we analyse fulfilment services and fulfilment costs from different providers.
3. you receive a price comparison of fulfilment operators according to your requirements.
Save a lot of time and money with our detailed and free comparison service! On MyFracht.com you get a quick and high-quality comparison of fulfilment services according to criteria entered.
We help you find your optimal fulfilment partner – Europe-wide!
By the way: With our pallet calculator you can calculate the number of parcels in seconds!