E-Commerce Fulfilment: What Is It And Why Is It So Important?
Fulfilment is the process of accepting orders in your e-commerce shopping cart and shipping the correct products to your customers on time. It has four distinct parts:
- A customer visits your online shop, adds items to the shopping cart, and clicks the buy button.
- That online order is transmitted to a fulfilment center.
- The fulfilment center picks, packs, and ships the order.
- The courier then delivers the order to the customer.
If you’re a small seller or just starting out, that fulfilment center might be your garage, and you might be the person who picks and packs the orders. Or, you might use Amazon’s fulfilment services and have your products shipped from an Amazon warehouse.
If your company is a bit bigger, you might use a fulfilment warehouse to store your merchandise and ship your orders.
Ensuring you have fulfilled your online orders is part of a sequence that determines how well you will sell online. But what do you do if you have on-going issues in having online order fulfilled? You consider drop-shipping. When you use a drop-shipping business model, you don’t purchase the inventory until your customer places the order.
For example, you might want to add a couple of new jewelry pieces to your online offerings. You don’t want to tie up all your cash in inventory, especially because you’re not sure how well the new pieces will sell. Your supplier agrees to create the pieces and keep a small amount on hand at its facility. When a customer places an order for one of the new pieces on your e-commerce site, your supplier ships the items directly to your customer.
Integrating E-Commerce Fulfilment Into Your Online Sales Platform
The vast majority of shopping cart platforms on the market today offer open application program interfaces (APIs). Through a simple link with an existing API, information is passed seamlessly between the shopping cart and fulfilment provider.
In real-time, inventory levels, returns, and tracking numbers are updated on both ends of the system. This flexibility makes it simple for both e-commerce businesses and fulfilment providers to keep track of the bi-directional product flow.
Some options of cart platforms with simple API integration include:
If all else fails, revert to CSV Files. Inventory, tracking, and returns information can be uploaded manually or sent at batch intervals. Fulfilment data dumps typically three times per day; this data is best passed using Excel files saved in CSV format (according to specific guidelines) to ensure data integrity.
No matter what size e-commerce business you operate (even if you’re just getting started), fulfilment should not be a secondary decision. With just a little research and planning, ensuring seamless integration between your fulfilment software and online storefront should be a breeze.
After all, the fast, accurate, and well-presented orders translate into happy customers and repeat sales!