Order Fulfillment

Know How to Find an Order Fulfillment Center

Third-party order fulfillment centers can save money and improve order speed for any eCommerce operation. Know what to look for and how to compare.

Order fulfillment is critical for modern retail businesses that need to ship products on time to customers. Amazon expects customers to get what they buy on their doorstep within days of ordering. However, Amazon costs companies a lot to store, ship, and track products. Thus, third-party order fulfillment companies come to the rescue with excellent and reliable service.

In this article, we’ll discuss what order fulfillment is and how you can ensure that your service is the best for your business.

But what is order fulfillment?

Order fulfillment ensures products reach customers in the most timely and accurate way possible. Order fulfillment centers are the key to logistics. They are near large population centers to ensure fast shipping for the lowest cost within a broad area.

Financially, the value of using an order fulfillment center is a lower overhead for your sales operation. You’re not paying for the warehouse, staff, software, and hardware costs. Instead, you’re paying a smaller percentage of those costs, allowing you to spend more money on your core business. This is good business.

Order fulfillment services generally work by following a five-step process:

  1. Collecting orders
  2. Storing product
  3. Efficient Shipping
  4. Accurate and Fast Receiving
  5. Order Processing

First, Order Fulfillment is Order Collection

Order fulfillment starts with your shopping cart, whether it’s WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, or whatever. Services like PFK are built on high-end logistics software that merges with your shopping cart, so shipping starts once an order is made.

PFK’s software can integrate with shopping carts in several ways:

  • Our software receives orders as customers select and pay for products.
  • Our service updates inventory to ensure your store isn’t selling items it doesn’t have.
  • Services like ours also update your customers with order status so they know an item has been shipped and is being held as a backorder.

Product Storage

Storage is an important part of order fulfillment. It gives you a single place for product management. Items are stored in logical rows and bins that are easy for staff to find.

Critical in this is being able to conduct on-site audits of product counts. This is unique about PFK’s service, and something we feel is important to ensure transparency and trust. If you can’t be sure you have the product on site, then write-offs become a serious cost.

When looking for a fulfillment center, be sure to ask what type of products are stored in its warehouse. Some centers store hazardous materials on site, so you may not want to store material in the same center that stores this kind of material.

Efficient Shipping

UPS Shipping staff delivering packages from an order fulfillment center.
Fast Shipping is Critical for Any E-commerce Operation

Being able to ship quickly is partly due to location. You want to house your material in a warehouse in the same shipping zone. The United States Postal Service is generally focused on population centers. Zone 8, for instance, covers most of the western United States, from Seattle to West Texas. That’s the zone PFK covers, making storage with us beneficial for reaching over half of the United States within two days.

The other issue is to ensure your shipping center has alliances with shipping companies. For PFK, we are aligned with both the USPS and UPS. This ensures we can provide our customers with discounts unavailable to regular retail customers. It also ensures faster delivery times.

Accurate and Fast Receiving

For your eCommerce operation, your fulfillment company must quickly receive and stock incoming freight. And when we say quick, two days is quick and necessary. Receiving new stock for a holiday rush means sales depend on fast receiving times. Cataloging stock two weeks after shipment means you may have items you can’t sell. You’ll miss your prime selling period and your target customers.

Processing returns quickly and accurately is also important. A fast returns process protects your reputation. Customers want to be sure that if they return an item according to your terms, you’ll live up to those terms that you set. If your fulfillment center fails you, you can expect negative reviews and a difficult road to gaining new customers.

Order Processing or “Pick and Ship”

Finally, a good order fulfillment house will have an efficient “pick and ship” process. “Pick and ship” basically means that when the warehouse receives an order, there’s a process to receive the order and ensure:

  1. The item is located in the warehouse,
  2. Securely packed into a box, and an accurate shipping label is printed,
  3. Updated both in the warehouse and in your online store,
  4. Passed to the shipping company within your delivery guarantee,
  5. The customer is notified of the shipment and gets a tracking number.

Ensuring a process that consistently picks and processes orders is critical to your operation. Partnering with an order fulfillment company is critical to a modern, successful e-commerce business.

Contact the Order Fulfillment Experts at PFK

PFK can help you create a strategy for delivering your products to customers quickly and reliably. Whether you need an order fulfillment center that guarantees delivery or ensures speed (or both), we can help you design a system that ensures success. Reach out anytime using the link below. We’re here to help.