Web Fulfillment – What Is It and How It Works

By | April 21, 2010

Web fulfillment has become much more popular as ecommerce has continued to become a more popular option for consumers everywhere.  By utilizing a web fulfillment service, businesses can save both time and money that is often wasted on the shipping process.  In order to decide whether or not web fulfillment is an option that you should consider, it is important to understand exactly what it is and how it works.

Web Fulfillment – What is it?

Fundamentally, web fulfillment is a process where a customer places an order online and once it is processed, a fulfillment service will ship your product for you.  Web fulfillment services are especially popular for businesses that ship a variety of different products or simply do not want to carry the overhead that is involved with shipping every product themselves.  Additionally, fulfillment services can offer leverage their size and expertize to minimize the total shipping costs and ensure that best shipping option for each situation.  They can ship international too.

Once someone places an order on your website, fulfillment services can receive the order in two ways.  The first option is that a copy of each order is simply sent to the fulfillment center immediately after the purchase is made.  The second option, is for business owners that want a little more control.  They can compile a list of sales once or twice a day and send the orders to the fulfillment service.  This provides a little more control for the business owner because they can track their inventory easier.

Web Fulfillment – How does it work?

Now that you general understanding of what web fulfillment services do, it is time for a deeper look into the process.  While the fundamentals of the process is simple (order is placed, processed through fulfillment center, and shipped), the details are what can make the experience fantastic or a complete waste.

Inventory Tracking

While almost every fulfillment service will update you when your inventory gets low, that doesn’t mean that their inventory is accurate.  They will often only record what is shipped and not what was returned, lost, or broken.  It is imperative that you and the fulfillment service can both track the amount of inventory remaining.

Packaging

Most web fulfillment services will not specially package odd-shaped or fragile items, especially if their specialize in bulk shipping.  If your items need special attention, then many services may not fit your needs.

Shipping Time

Sometimes, web fulfillment services will prioritize the clients that they will ship for based upon the volume that needs shipped on a weekly basis.  If you are a company that has a low  daily shipping volume, then the web fulfillment company may wait a few days, or even a week, and then ship out all of your orders once.  This is especially important if you promise 24 or 72 hour shipping.

Web fulfillment services have simplified and streamlined the shipping operations for thousands of online retailers.  They are a great tool when utilized correctly, especially if you are a high volume shipper.  Now that you understand what it is and how it works, it will be much easier to decide if it is the right solution for you.

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