ecommerce fulfillment

The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Fulfillment in 2021

You may have the best product on the market, a captivating website, and a world-class marketing team, but if your eCommerce business doesn’t focus on providing exceptional fulfillment, you could be losing quite a bit of revenue. When it comes to online retail, shipping rates and times are becoming more and more important to savvy consumers.
Just how important are your shipping costs to your overall success?

  • 83% of U.S. shoppers state that free shipping is the most important factor in ordering online.
  • 54% percent of consumers have abandoned their online shopping baskets because they were dissatisfied with delivery costs.
  • Approximately a quarter of shoppers have canceled orders because the estimated delivery time wasn’t fast enough.

Delivery and fulfillment can make a major difference for online retailers. It’s why successful eCommerce brands all have the same thing in common: a great fulfillment service.
Reliable fulfillment services can help organizations like yours save time and money, expand your business, and run the customer-facing side of your brand like a well-oiled machine.

What Does eCommerce Fulfillment Entail?


According to Forbes, “One of the most important decisions you can make in online business is picking a fulfillment center.” The article continues, “Fulfilling orders yourself isn’t always scalable; it quickly overwhelms individual entrepreneurs and small businesses as the business grows.”
Why is this? It goes beyond the knowledge base of most small businesses to build or buy a warehouse and set up a large-scale fulfillment operation; it’s just not attainable or cost-effective at all for brands to handle this themselves.
A great eCommerce fulfillment company handles multiple steps in the fulfillment process, including:

  • Inventory tracking
  • Order fulfillment
  • Shipping
  • Receiving and inventory management

eCommerce fulfillment can also include services like warehousing, picking and packing, returns management, and order management. A great fulfillment provider will also offer additional services like:

  • Data visualization
  • Customer journey insights
  • Predictive analytics
  • Customer support
  • Kitting services
  • Personalized packaging

The eCommerce Fulfillment Process


A third-party logistics (3PL) or eCommerce fulfillment provider functions seamlessly as an extension of your business, allowing you to scale your operations as your business needs and demand change while minimizing your expenses and risk.
Imagine a fulfillment center — you’re likely to picture a large warehouse, but order fulfillment also involves carefully curated software to make the process simpler and easier, integrating directly with your eCommerce store. When an order is placed, the item or items are located in the warehouse and packaged for shipping.
Fulfillment also involves:

  • Receiving and inventory management
  • eCommerce store fulfillment and integration
  • Order fulfillment
  • Returns processing

Fulfillment is so much more than just packing orders. It’s about getting orders where they need to be in a fast, cost-effective way, managing predictive analytics software to support the evolving needs of the retailer, and also about reverse logistics and returns processing.
Reverse logistics requires a great deal of skill. It involves ongoing customer support, the return and physical movement of goods, as well as warehousing or restocking, triage, and in some cases, repair.
A 3PL provider has procedures in place to make reverse logistics a cost-effective, fast process and also one in which the customer feels heard and cared for to develop a lasting relationship with the eCommerce brand. Of the importance of efficient returns management, Tom Enright, the supply chain research director at Gartner Research had this to say:
“Retailers are not very good at managing returns right now, and so unless they invest in their ability to manage returns, the volume of returns coming back will cause problems in their overall supply chain.”
A fulfillment service can streamline and simplify this process to keep your supply chain moving and your customers happy.

Fulfillment Services for Exceptional Customer Satisfaction


The way customers receive the goods they’ve purchased from online stores matters. So much so, that Retail Info Systems reported that an impressive 87% of eCommerce shoppers shared that they were highly likely or more likely to shop again with an online merchant if they had a positive delivery experience.
Also? 61% of online shoppers reported that they had purchased an item from one retailer over another because they were given multiple delivery options, and 48% of shoppers rated guaranteed delivery dates as being “important” when they check out online.
The way items are fulfilled can have a big impact on overall revenue, repeat customers, and more. If items ship quickly in quality packaging with accessible tracking, customers appreciate the attention to detail and fast service. But if the returns process is clunky or products take a week or longer to ship, that creates an entirely different situation.
When nearly 30% of goods purchased online are returned — and more like 40% for clothing — a well-run supply chain that can move easily in both directions is essential to customer satisfaction.
Why does this matter? Repeat customers! Web Retailer shares that repeat shoppers account for 40% of all online sales — and they’re important to driving revenue. Online retailers who have 40% repeat customers generate 50% more revenue than similar retailers that have a 10% repeat customer base.

The Challenges of In-House Order Fulfillment


Some smaller online retailers find that they have the means to handle all of their orders in-house without much trouble. The problem comes when things start to expand or get complicated. What sorts of issues do retailers run into when they attempt to handle order fulfillment on their own?

  • Trouble keeping up with a sharp increase in demand and order volume
  • Late shipments
  • Lack of knowledge of the industry and no connections to negotiate lower prices
  • Challenges with inventory receiving like mistakes or delays
  • Constant turnover and hiring and training of seasonal employees
  • Inefficient picking and packing practices
  • Expanding and contracting warehouse space

OceanX: How an Experienced Order Fulfillment Service Can Help


At OceanX, we already have the technologies, relationships, and processes in place to keep your direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand running smoothly. We can use our connections to negotiate the best shipping prices, get products to your customers faster, offer you valuable insights and share predictive analytics, help you scale, and more — all to ensure you can focus on your brands’ core competencies. We can even help with kitting, subscriptions, and personalization to offer unbeatable customer service that you just can’t find in other kinds of large, impersonal fulfillment providers.
For decades, we’ve been helping DTC eCommerce brands expand their reach, offer unbeatable service, and tackle even the most challenging of logistics issues. To learn more about what we can do for you, request a quote today!