If you are working in or are a startup business owner, chances are you will need a fulfillment service to work with. Whether you’re a new CEO with a small group or experienced with a growing e-commerce business, someone needs to take care of your orders, inventory, and shipping.
But shipping costs and materials can only be managed by a few people for so long. Once you get an online store going, looking for the correct fulfillment service and company is a beneficial option.
We’ll answer your questions, including what is a fulfillment service and why is it so important? What type of work will the fulfillment service do for my startup? How do I find the right fit for my business?
Learn why e-commerce businesses need fulfillment services.
What Is a Fulfillment Company?
Simply put, a fulfillment company handles inventory, order processing, and shipping, all for other companies. This type of work allows you to continue doing the work you need to do with improving your business, increasing traffic for your website, and so on.
But the term “fulfillment” includes a lot of details that are important to know about.
1. When you work with a fulfillment service, you will need to have your inventory reach them.
There are many options, but in general, you can route your inventory from the supplier to the fulfillment company without having to handle the merchandise yourself. Just be sure to forward shipment details to the fulfillment company to receive the shipment quickly.
However, if you have your own inventory location, you can send the goods to your fulfillment partner via shippers such as FedEx, UPS, and others. Alert the company of your shipment details and delivery.
2. When your shipment arrives, the stock will be sorted by the fulfillment company. Like most places where shipments are received, the fulfillment company will check what is in stock, inspect the quantity of your inventory and any items that may have been damaged on the way to their facility. If anything is damaged, you should be informed by the fulfillment company so that you can sort it out with the supplier.
3. Once all of your stock has been assigned an SKU number, the fulfillment center will store your goods. As fulfillment centers are different from long-term warehouses, they will be more interested in a quick turnover for your sales. That being said, you will need to be aware of the storage fee to the stock ratio that is best for your merchandise.
Many experts on fulfillment services recommend that your goods not be stored in your fulfillment partner’s facility for more than a month. Your fulfillment partner can help you ensure that you’re stuck and always meet your customers’ needs. They will provide you with data that can help you maintain that critical balance between the fees and turnover.
Good business is mutual, so the more your company grows, the better it is for the fulfillment partner.
4. The next step in the process is routing customer orders. Your customers’ orders will need to be processed, and fulfillment companies will ensure every order is satisfactory. Your fulfillment partner will be the one to provide an order receiving system if your company does not have one set up. You can work together with a fulfillment partner on processing orders, and some will even do this themselves with no extra headache for you.
5. Finally, the fulfillment company will process and ship orders. This is pretty simple as the company processes them for shipment to your customers.
If a customer wishes to return their order in the case of returns, the fulfillment company helps make the process much easier. Their address is usually listed as the place customers can return their orders.
That way, customers can simply ship the order they would like to return straight to the fulfillment facility. Your own company will decide the return terms, and the fulfillment center staff deals with the return.
How Processing Orders Should Work Between Your Business and Theirs
There are different options for processing customer orders. The first of which is called complete integration. You may also hear a lot about your POS, or point-of-sale system, during this process. Or you may also use your e-commerce platform or different software for management.
These different platforms can be used as the best way to send the information regarding orders to your fulfillment company partner.
This router orders directly into their fulfillment company’s system; when the customer places an order, the specifics of the product customer, and shipping info, we’ll all be sent to the fulfillment center automatically. Complete integration is the most used option between fulfillment companies and e-commerce websites.
The second option is CSV file order submission. CSV file orders are put in use if your fulfillment company is not completely integrated with your system. The CSV or separated value spreadsheet is data that is universally recognized by most systems.
You may have to use a client portal to upload the files or someone on your team who can take care of CSV entry. However, if you have a high volume of orders, you may need to export several of these spreadsheets per day, making it a less convenient option than the one mentioned above.
Finally, there is the manual order entry option. This type of entry is exactly what it sounds like. If you are using your fulfillment partner’s client portal, you can manually put in your customers’ orders yourself.
This option is not the most efficient because everything has to be put in manually. This could eat up a lot of time compared to the other methods. There is also A greater chance of human error, which could lead to a problem with your customers later.
How to Choose a Fulfillment Company
Naturally, your research in this area will all depend on your company’s needs. Remember, finding the right fit is most important when searching for a fulfillment company. Here are some of the basics.
Punctual shipping times make for loyal customers, while late shipments after promises of fulfilling an order within a short time frame create customers who may not shop with you again. If their orders take a much longer time to receive than the fulfillment company’s estimate provides, this is not transparent.
It is also necessary to look into global shipping if you have customers from all around the world. Be sure to find out if international shipping is available from the fulfillment company before working with them. Even if you intend to expand your business later, you may still want the option in your current customer situation.
You don’t want to be unable to ship to your customers in large numbers, or your business could be in danger.
Another thing to consider is the general speed of shipment. Of course, location matters, as mentioned, but it also matters what you tell your customers.
With several delivery services making speedy shipments such as next day or two-day delivery a possibility, you need to keep up with this expectation.
Again, make sure the fulfillment company can keep their promises about quick deliveries. Many online shoppers may see a long shipment time is needed and not complete their order or give up on it entirely.
The company should show that they can provide quick deliveries for your stock on their website to ensure working with them will help your business.
Last but certainly not least is the cost. As you’ve read in this article, short-term storage is what you will need a fulfillment facility for, as your products should always be moving. Because it is short-term, there may be many costs upfront, which can seem overwhelming at first.
The good news is that this will save you plenty of money in the long run. Labor, packing supplies, and more will not cost as much after you provide the money upfront. And make sure that because of this, they will not be charging you for long-term storage (again, transparency is vital).
Encore Business Group as Your Fulfillment Company
A transparent company that offers good fulfillment services is Encore Business Group, LLC.
Operating with an ISO9001 certified quality management system, Encore Business Group provides high-quality service for partners and customers. This means they can proudly and openly share that they have passed several audits over the years.
You can read our mission statement, which details how our customer needs come first and exceeding expectations is a priority. EGB also has a 100% on-time delivery rate, increasing the efficiency of their clients and shipping of their products.
They have done this through excellent quality assurance, all shown through their data. Your company can be aware of every detail of what happens in the facility, such as separating good and damaged products through careful inspection.
EBG will pack, fulfill, and ship your products with ease, directly to customers. Check out our range of services designed to help you and your business while satisfying customer needs.
Encore Business Group’s is an excellent choice for your startup.