Increasingly, consumers in the UK and worldwide are turning to convenient online channels for all their shopping needs. In this article, we explain what eCommerce fulfilment is and how this can be outsourced.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce, simply put, is the buying and selling of products or services over the internet.
In the space of 25 years, eCommerce has become a daily part of our lives for both business and domestic markets alike. Whatever product or service being sold – from big brand names to small independent retailers – almost everyone has an online presence.
A successful online retailer will need to have a robust eCommerce platform which is able to grow with the company as online orders increase. Large companies can afford to have bespoke platforms created, however small independent retailers or start-up businesses do not always have the luxury of being able to afford this option. This is where eCommerce platforms such as WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify are worth their weight in gold.
These eCommerce platforms give retailers the tools to build their own online store which can be easily customised to suit their particular requirements. The software enables customers to grow and manage their business and sell their products in multiple online platforms which includes websites, social media, and well-known online marketplaces. In addition, it enables the management of inventory and payments and provides essential marketing tools and search engine optimisation.
Once you have set up your online retail presence and the orders start flooding in, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to successfully fulfil those orders. That could mean acquiring warehouse space and hiring operational staff or outsourcing to an eCommerce fulfilment specialist.
So what is eCommerce Fulfilment?
Basically, this is the order fulfilment process. This involves the picking, packing and despatching orders, so that your customers receive their products on time. Depending on your order volumes, this may mean packing boxes in your spare room, or re-purposing staff to pack orders in your office or warehouse, or using a third-party fulfilment house.
How does eCommerce fulfilment work?
When a customer places an order through one of your sales channels, your eCommerce software will produce a despatch note which will enable you to pick the correct products from your inventory. Once picked, the products are carefully packed and despatched to the customer via your chosen courier. It is vital that online retailers get the fulfilment right if they wish to retain customers and provide them with an excellent service.
Most online sellers offer a returns option as part of their sales proposition. This may be because the order was placed by mistake, the product is the wrong size or it’s faulty or damaged. Whatever the reason, processing returns is a necessary part of the online sales process.
Upon receipt of a returned item, sellers should handle this promptly, by sending a replacement or by refunding. This will help to maintain buyer confidence and encourage your customers to buy from you again.
Outsourcing your eCommerce Fulfilment
There are two primary ways that online retailers can handle their order fulfilment – in-house and outsourcing.
Although you may be able to handle your initial volume of orders, as your business grows and orders increase, you may start to struggle without hiring extra staff or outsourcing.
There are many benefits to outsourcing your fulfilment. These include:
- Speed and efficiency – you can be assured your orders will be dispatch accurately and on time.
- Saving time and money sourcing and renting warehouse/storage facilities.
- More time on growing your business, developing or sourcing new products and marketing projects.
- Savings on staff and costs – PAYE, NIC, pension payments, training etc.
In addition, your inventory will be securely stored in a purpose-built fulfilment warehouse, with professionally managed goods-in and dispatch services.
Why choose Adstral for your eCommerce fulfilment?
With a 5pm cut-off time for orders, we always pick, pack and dispatch orders quickly, efficiently and accurately. Our prices are always extremely competitive and we don’t charge fixed set-up or management fees.
Adstral works with many eCommerce businesses, from large companies to small independent online retailers. We have large warehouse facilities which can store many thousands of products.
All of our clients’ products are stored safely and securely in our fulfilment warehouses. Upon receipt, we log each product in our systems with their unique SKU reference This enables us to track the movements of every item.
Our order management software seamlessly integrates with most eCommerce platforms and online sales channels – enabling us to pick, pack and dispatch orders as soon as they are received. Our clients can view their entire order history and stock inventory through our secure client portal.
If your customer needs to return goods for any reason, we will handle the entire returns process, from updating your inventory to sending out replacements.
Whatever the size of your business, we can provide you with a bespoke eCommerce fulfilment service that can adapt as your business grows.
Hints and Tips for improving your eCommerce experience
We have produced some Hints & Tips documents, along with some FAQs, which provide answers to the questions we are most often asked.
- Tips to drive more sales to your online store
- Magento website optimisation tips
- WooCommerce website optimisation tips
To speak to one of our team about our fulfilment services and how we can help your online retail business, please call us on 01793 725043, or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.