What is eCommerce?


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Over the past couple of months, with most high street shops closed, many people in the UK have turned to eCommerce channels for all their shopping needs.  In this blog, we look at eCommerce and how best to fulfil online orders

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 have started flooding in, you will need to think about how you are going to successfully fulfil those orders. That could mean hiring staff to handle the fulfilment side for you or outsourcing to an eCommerce fulfilment specialist.

What is eCommerce Fulfilment?

eCommerce fulfilment is the picking, packing and despatching orders so that your customers receive their products on time and in the same condition as they left your premises. This may mean that you might be packing boxes in the evening in your garage or spare room, or re-purposing staff to pack orders in your office or storage area, or using a third-party fulfilment house.

How does an 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.

eCommerce Handling Returns

There are many reasons why a customer may wish to return an order. It might be because they ordered it by mistake, it’s the wrong size, or it’s faulty or damaged on receipt.  Whatever the reason, handing returns is a vital part of the eCommerce fulfilment process.

On receipt of the returned order, companies should handle this promptly by sending a replacement or refunding.

Outsourcing your eCommerce Fulfilment

There are two ways that online retailers can handle eCommerce fulfilment – in-house and outsourcing. 

Although you may be able to handle your current 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 eCommerce fulfilment.  These include:

  • Savings on staff costs – PAYE, NIC, pension payments, training etc.
  • Saving time and money sourcing and renting warehouse/storage facilities.
  • It leaves you free to spend time on growing your business, developing or sourcing new products, and marketing projects.

In addition, your customers will receive accurate, on time deliveries with every care taken to ensure the products arrive in excellent condition.

Why choose Adstral for your eCommerce fulfilment?

Adstral works with a number of eCommerce businesses, from large companies to small independent online retailers.  We have large warehouse facilities which can house many thousands of products, and can pick, pack and despatch orders quickly, efficiently and accurately.

All products are stored safely and securely.  On receipt, we issue each product with a unique SKU number so that we can keep track of every single item in our warehouse.  Our proprietary Adstral® 3PL Manager order management software will seamlessly integrate with most eCommerce platforms and online sales channels – enabling us to pick, pack and despatch orders as soon as they are received.  This system also allows our customers to view their entire order history and inventory through our 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 size of your business, however many orders you receive each day, 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

Not only do we provide a first-class, professional and accurate eCommerce fulfilment service, we like to help our customers with help and advice should they need it. We have produced some Hints & Tips documents, along with some FAQs, which provide answers to questions we are often asked.

To speak to one of our team about our eCommerce fulfilment service and how we can help your online retail business, please telephone us on 01793 725043, or complete your details on our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

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