Ordering products online is almost magical. After a few clicks, the product arrives at your doorstep. However, what many consumers don’t realize is that several things happen behind the scenes that make this magic happen. This process (from cart to doorstep) is known as fulfillment.
eCommerce fulfillment is a critical step in the eCommerce supply chain. People demand timely service and shipment when placing their orders online. Even if your product is the greatest on the market, you are less likely to succeed if you provide unprofessional and untimely delivery.
The eCommerce fulfillment provider you pick will have a significant impact on your customer experience. If your customers receive damaged goods or have to wait a month to receive a product that was promised in two days, your reputation is undoubtedly going to suffer.
Processing orders, managing stock in a storage facility, keeping track of customer data, and providing data and analytics, among other things, are services that smart outsourced eCommerce fulfillment companies provide.
If you are hoping to find reliable eCommerce fulfillment services, you may be wondering where to start when choosing a service provider that is right for you. Fortunately, we have devised a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best fulfillment services for eCommerce in 2022.
What Are eCommerce Fulfillment Services?
Suppose you are a new business owner. In that case, you may not be familiar with the term “fulfillment services” yet. However, the chances are that you are probably already practicing order fulfillment in your eCommerce business.
This is because order fulfillment is at the core of eCommerce business operations. It entails processing and dispatching orders on your behalf. Fulfillment services don’t just involve packaging and delivering goods to customers.
They also involve maintaining product inventories, storing products efficiently, replenishing stock levels, processing returns, and more.
This last stage of the supply chain takes place at an eCommerce fulfillment center, removing the need for business owners to pay for the use of warehouses and control inventory processing and deliveries on their own.
Fulfillment companies often have a network of eCommerce fulfillment centers that work together to ensure that your customers receive their orders in a timely manner.
Most eCommerce fulfillment companies use intuitive technology tools to make the fulfillment process easier and more efficient by providing real-time information about stock levels, customer data, analytics, and other important information.
Your Order Fulfillment Choices
As we have already seen, there are a number of ways that you can meet your business’s order fulfillment needs. You could choose to handle your fulfillments in-house, through dropshipping, or outsourced fulfillment services.
In the section below, we take a closer look at these three options to help you determine which one would be best for your eCommerce business.
• In-house Fulfillment
One of the most obvious ways to handle your shipping and fulfillment needs is by performing these processes on your own. This is referred to as in-house fulfillment.
While this method certainly has its advantages, especially for small businesses and those just starting out, it can certainly prove expensive, time-consuming, and impractical in the long run.
An excellent way to determine whether in-house fulfillment is the right way to go is to determine your daily, weekly, and monthly order rate.
Fulfillment companies (which we will discuss later) often have a minimum order rate, so this type of fulfillment may be best for you if you receive a small number of orders. However, as your business begins to grow, you may need to outsource your order fulfillment processes to a third party.
Dropshipping involves having your supplier or manufacturer deal with your order shipments. While this may certainly be a convenient way to handle order fulfillment, there are drawbacks to choosing this order fulfillment method.
These include less control over the process, the lack of analytics that can provide helpful insight into the performance of your products, and the fact that the customer is the one who will get to see the final product.
If there has been a manufacturing defect, your customer will be the one to pick up on it, which could lead to quality concerns, poor reviews, and reduced sales.
• Third-party Logistics Provider (3PL)
The most efficient way to process and ship orders is by using an outsourced eCommerce order fulfillment company like Fulfyld.
Third-party fulfillment services, often known as third-party logistics providers or 3PL, is a fulfillment alternative in which company owners outsource this portion of the distribution chain.
Partnering with a 3PL can save you both time and money. It also puts you in the driver’s seat by allowing you to have more control over your order processing.
This means that you can provide custom packaging to improve the customer experience and ensure that any product defects are identified before the customer sees the defective product, which can help to maintain a good reputation. It also ensures that you and your customers get consistency with each order.
You employ a third party to store your products, prepare and package your orders, and manage the order deliveries for you, so you have more time to focus on important aspects of your business, such as marketing and increasing sales.
What Is the Difference Between Dropshipping and eCommerce Fulfillment Services?
Dropshipping and third-party fulfillment services are essentially the same things. Your goods are stored, handled, and delivered by the firm that is doing the fulfillment or dropshipping on your behalf. Most of them even return items without you needing to do anything.
The truth is that dropshipping usually eliminates one of the first steps in the process. When a company decides to dropship, they will get in touch with the manufacturer who is involved in producing the goods they want to sell.
All the business owner needs to then do is create a product webpage and notify the dropshipper whenever a product sells.
This implies that a firm that creates unique or one-of-a-kind products will be unable to dropship. All the components and products must be made by a different company or in-house.
As a result, fulfillment differs from dropshipping in that your goods must be transported to the order fulfillment company where they are stored. In contrast, drop shippers usually have the goods already on hand since the drop-shipper is also the manufacturer.
What Does a Fulfillment Center Do?
An eCommerce fulfillment company will be responsible for processing and delivering your orders.
Receiving goods, storing and preserving inventory, processing customer orders, picking and packing, attaching packing slips, and delivering the order to the customer are all part of this procedure. This occurs at a fulfillment center.
• The Difference Between a Fulfillment Center and a Warehouse
Many people believe that fulfillment centers and warehouses are the same. However, this is not true.
Warehouses simply store products, while fulfillment centers are specially designed to house products in a way that maximizes the use of the space, storing products in a way that allows them to be found quickly and easily when the need arises.
• These Fulfillment Centers Are Where the Magic Happens
Although each fulfillment center is unique, they all serve the same purpose: to serve as an operations center for all your order preparation and shipment needs.
These fulfillment centers also serve as storage facilities for storing your inventory, which allows you to have stock on hand.
• Multiple Fulfillment Center Locations
Some order fulfillment companies have multiple fulfillment centers, which allows them to reach numerous geographical locations faster than if they only had one.
This enables eCommerce businesses to provide rapid and economical shipping to a wide range of customers.
Why You Should Choose a Third-party Fulfillment Company
You probably won’t need outsourced order fulfillment services if you run a small business from your basement.
However, when your business grows, the fulfillment process can become complex and time-consuming, so a fulfillment company can be extremely valuable in these cases.
As you may have already noticed, there are a plethora of advantages to choosing to outsource your fulfillment processes to a company like Fulfyld. In the section below, we take a look at some of the benefits of outsourced fulfillment services.
1. It Can Save You Time
Fulfillment companies are experienced in logistics and order processing and can take care of everything from storing your goods to shipment of your clients’ orders.
These service providers also include automation features that reduce the risk of human error and save you time and money long-term.
Automation also provides analytical data, which can help you determine which products are selling fast and which ones are slow selling. This means that you can find the information you need in real-time to help you make smart business decisions.
2. Fulfillment Companies Provide Services to a Broader Area
It may be hard to process orders for another state or county if you fulfill orders in-house. Because shipping orders to other areas is so difficult, most small eCommerce business owners choose to lose customers and restrict their business activities to one location.
You can get greater coverage by choosing an eCommerce fulfillment center because they have warehouses in multiple locations, ensuring that you reach customers in different places quickly and efficiently.
Business owners can easily arrange with manufacturers and ask them to ship things to the nearest fulfillment center.
3. Save Money on Shipping Costs
Fulfillment service providers benefit from economies of scale that allow them to relay savings to eCommerce business owners. You can then offer these savings to your customers in the form of free or reduced shipping to
Purchasing dunnage and packaging material on a large scale is less expensive than purchasing a smaller quantity to handle the orders for a single store’s sales. These fulfillment companies can also negotiate lower shipping prices because they process orders in bulk.
At Fulfyld, we offer discounts on our shipping services, so as your order volume increases, your shipping costs decrease.
4. Improve Customer Experience with Custom Packaging
If you’ve been operating an online store for a time, you’ve probably realized that each item has its own unique packing requirements. You will have limited control over the kind of packaging material used and the overall customer experience if you choose to use dropshipping.
When you work with a third-party logistics provider like Fulfyld, you have more control over the last stage of the process, which includes choosing custom packaging.
5. Regulated or Perishable Items Will Need Special Packaging
Some items require more packaging than others, while others may be shipped safely in an envelope or a box. Regulated or perishable goods must also be packed to precise specifications to avoid contamination or damage during transit.
A fulfillment company will select the appropriate dunnage and packaging materials, taking your specifications into account, ensuring that products do not move around unnecessarily while being shipped.
Create a Memorable Unboxing Experience
Custom packaging is also available from fulfillment service providers like Fulfyld to provide a memorable unboxing experience, increasing the possibility of a consumer returning to your online store.
Organizations that take an environmentally sustainable approach can also opt for eco-conscious packaging materials.
6. You Get to Focus on Your Sales Channels
Instead of scurrying around trying to dispatch orders, you can concentrate on really developing your business model after all the tiresome fulfillment responsibilities are off your plate.
You can spend more time selling your products, conducting product and market research to extend your product line, conducting consumer satisfaction surveys, and using that data to enhance the user experience on your eCommerce site.
Business owners can also dedicate more time to focusing on building a good website, conversion funnels, generating leads, and offering additional services to their customers.
7. Inventory Management Advantages
Inventory management entails constant monitoring of stock levels, acquiring and replenishing inventory, as well as collecting customer information to help estimate the amount of stock required.
Built-in features in Fulfyld’s innovative software lets you view real-time stock levels at the fulfillment center.
It also helps you plan in advance for restocking, which prevents running out of stock, and obtain insight into how your products performed, such as which ones sold quickly, and which didn’t.
If you choose to fulfill orders in-house or through dropshipping, you will need to purchase additional software to receive the same kind of analytical data.
8. Faster Shipments
As explained previously, timely delivery is essential for a business’s survival in the competitive world of eCommerce.
The most significant aspect of the online purchasing experience, according to 41 percent of customers, is the turnaround time.
3PL providers have networks of fulfillment centers, which means that they have facilities in several areas that can fulfill an order dependent on the specified location, ensuring that your customers’ demands for speedy deliveries are met.
9. You Have Access to Fulfillment Experts
The truth is that you don’t just get access to a storage facility when you employ a third party to handle the fulfillment process, but you also gain access to experts who manage the fulfillment center.
If you practice in-house fulfillment, you’ll almost certainly need to employ workers as your business grows. It takes time to manage a team. When your company isn’t stable, as many small online stores are, you may be hesitant to offer somebody a job.
Instead, you should outsource the work to logistics and fulfillment like Fulfyld and delegate the task of locating and employing qualified personnel to them.
Each third-party provider has a dedicated team of logistics specialists and support personnel on hand to assist you. They take care of all the work for acquiring, managing, processing, and delivering orders, providing you with a whole new level of convenience.
Choosing an eCommerce Fulfillment Service Provider
A simple Google search will be enough to prove that there are hundreds of options when it comes to order fulfillment services and choosing a 3PL that is a good fit for your eCommerce business can be challenging, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
The truth is that no two-order fulfillment service provider is the same. Each has its own strengths and limitations and finding a fulfillment services company that provides what you need is essential for the success of your business.
In the section below, we provide you with a few tips to help you find a fulfillment company for your online store.
• Determine What the Minimum Order Threshold Is
Smaller retailers may not be able to use large 3PL providers because these companies often demand that their clients reach a high minimum order level.
While these fulfillment companies would work great for larger eCommerce businesses, they aren’t suitable for smaller companies that may struggle to meet the minimum order thresholds.
• Find Out More About the Length of the Contract
Another point to consider is the duration of the contract. You should avoid signing a long-term contract if at all possible. A month-to-month contract is preferable for online stores and allows you to simply change to a new option if conditions should change.
Don’t Rule Out Long-term Contracts
On the other hand, long-term agreements should not be ruled out by default because they can still be changeable if there are few consequences for terminating the agreement.
• What Kind of Customer Support Can You Expect?
One of the best ways to determine whether a service provider is right for you is to take a closer look at its customer support.
You can do this by talking to current or past clients, by looking up reviews online, or by inquiring about the customer support measures that the company has in place.
Unparalleled Customer Support
One of the advantages of choosing Fulfyld is that you get unmatched customer support from a dedicated account manager who is always up to date on your business goals and activities.
This means that you never have to spend a significant amount of time explaining your complaint to a new representative every time you call the customer support department.
The account manager will guide you through the entire process, guiding you through the pricing structure, minimum order requirements, features, analytics, and more.
• Learn How the Company Deals with Damaged or Lost Items
As an eCommerce merchant, your business relies on the sales of goods and products, and it isn’t uncommon for parcels to be damaged or lost. This is why it is essential that you determine what policies and procedures are in place to deal with these events when they do occur.
You’ll want them to take on most of the responsibility. Some contracts include provisions for breakages and damages but be sure to inquire about these clauses before making your decision.
This works similarly to an insurance deductible in that the business owner is liable for the losses up to a particular amount, after which the fulfillment firm pays the balance.
Damages and Lost Products During Shipment
Mistakes are bound to occur. Orders can be misplaced or sent to the incorrect address. Fragile items can get broken throughout the process, among other things.
You must understand what a fulfillment firm does to prevent and address these issues. Inquire about how they adhere to SLAs, the speed with which purchases are fulfilled, and the accessibility of order tracking information.
More importantly, inquire about what occurs if they fail to follow your orders. Determine what the company policy is so that you can safeguard your business and clients in the event that something does go horribly wrong.
• The Services and Features on Offer
Compare the services and features that could be beneficial to your enterprise to the services offered by the 3PL provider.
Do you wish to label your shipments with a unique, branded logo or other advertising elements? A few fulfillment companies like Fulfyld offers these services.
You might also be interested in a process known in the industry as “kitting,” which is merging numerous stock-keeping units, or SKUs, into a single container or package. Such services are not available from every fulfillment firm.
• Experience with Similar Clients
Another great way to tell whether a service provider is a good fit is to determine whether it has previous experience with clients in your niche. If you sell perishable goods, for example, a 3PL provider with prior experience in storing and transporting perishable goods is a must.
This is because there are special rules and regulations governing these products and how they should be stored and transported. They may also require storage facilities with climate control to prevent them from spoiling or becoming damaged.
• The Technological Tools on Offer
Many fulfillment companies offer a wide range of digital tools for managing inventory, keeping track of stock levels, analyzing sales rates, and more. If this is something that is important to you, be sure to ask what software the company uses and what features you can expect.
Fulfillment companies like Fulfyld are at the forefront of shipment and fulfillment technologies and real-time data collection, allowing us to enhance customer satisfaction while reducing distribution and logistical risks.
Choose a fulfillment service company that provides more than just order delivery. Find out more about how the company you are interested in is investing in technology, expanding its integrations, and aiding eCommerce entrepreneurs in solving difficulties with top-notch analytical features.
• Inquire About the Number of Fulfillment Centers in the Company’s Network
The number of fulfillment centers a company has might reflect the size of the organization and its scale, indicating whether it is suitable for larger businesses. An operation’s size can also influence the delivery time, and a company with an extensive network may just be a necessity for large eCommerce businesses.
However, the size of the network of fulfillment centers may not make a difference in delivery time depending on the fulfillment provider’s efficiency, work ethic, organizational skills, and technological implementations.
• Supported Sales Channels and Integrations
Another crucial factor to take into consideration is the supported sales channels and integrations that the 3PL provider has to offer.
The provider you choose should support your preferred integration to guarantee seamless operations.
Even though most 3PLs offer popular integrations such as eBay, Shopify, and WooCommerce, this does not guarantee that their solutions will be suited for your company.
Check whether the software the 3PL company you are interested in employs works with your framework.
Suppose you choose Fulfyld for your shipping and fulfillment needs. In that case, the chances are that you will never have to worry about compatibility as Fulfyld offers integrations with Shopify, Shopify Plus, eBay, Amazon, Magento2, BigCommerce, 3D Cart, Walmart Marketplace, ShipStation, TradeGecko, and ChannelAdvisor.
10 of the Best Fulfillment Services for eCommerce
If you are still wondering where to start, we have devised a list of the industry’s top 10 fulfillment and logistics service providers. They are:
A company that provides a comprehensive, personalized fulfillment experience, with a focus on eCommerce
Offering next-day and two-day shipping, ShipBob offers good customer satisfaction and a range of cost and location options
3. RED STAG FULFILLMENT
A shipping and fulfillment company specializing in large and heavy items
4. AMAZON MCF
This is a service provider for companies that operate outside the Amazon marketplace
5. FULFILLMENT DOT COM
A company that claims to have a success rate of 99.8 percent
With over 70 years in the industry, this service provider has accumulated more than 500 customers
7. EFULFILLMENT SERVICE
Great for beginners with low minimum orders
8. FEDEX FULFILLMENT
A company that offers international shipping
9. AMAZON FBA
One of the best options for Amazon sellers
10. RUDBY HAS FULFILLMENT
The ideal service provider for medium or large businesses
Why Choose Fulfyld for Your Fulfillment Needs?
With so many great 3PL companies on the market, you may be wondering why Fulfyld is the best option for your business. Here are a few reasons why Fulfyld is the leading fulfillment provider.
1. An Impressive Number of Service Offerings and Features
One thing that sets us apart from other 3PL companies is that we offer our customers a host of services and features. Here are just a few of the features you can expect when working with Fulfyld.
• Integrations with Major eCommerce Platforms
At Fulfyld, we offer a number of integrations with major eCommerce platforms, including Shopify, Shopify Plus, eBay, Amazon, Magento2, BigCommerce, 3D Cart, Walmart Marketplace, ShipStation, TradeGecko, and ChannelAdvisor.
• Specialized Support for eCommerce Businesses
Fulfyld is a company that focuses on eCommerce businesses, passing our extensive experience and knowledge on to aspiring and established entrepreneurs.
• Custom Packaging and Fulfillment
With Fulfyld, you are in control of the process from start to finish. You can design your own personalized logos and choose custom packaging to improve the customer experience.
We also offer several fulfillment services, including:
- Omnichannel eCommerce fulfillment
- Crowdfunding campaigns
- B2B distribution
- Subscription boxes
2. Efficient and Timeous Delivery
With Fulfyld, you get guaranteed two-day shipping, which means that as an entrepreneur, you can build lasting relationships with your customers as they come to expect consistent and reliable services from your online store. Orders that are received by 1 P.M. will qualify for same-day shipping!
3. A Personal Touch
While most logistics companies choose to automate every process, including as little human contact as possible, Fulfyld believes that nothing beats the personalized experience you get from human contact.
This is why we assign you an account manager who will walk through the entire eCommerce fulfillment process and help you if you are experiencing any difficulties.
4. Upfront Fee Structure
We believe in building trusting relationships with our clients, which is why you’ll notice that our fee structure is upfront. You won’t find any hidden fees and expenses when you choose Fulfyld for your shipping and fulfillment needs.
5. Cloud-based Management Software
Thanks to our cloud-based applications, you can track your inventory levels, delivery status, and more from any device at any time of the day or night.
Get in Touch with Us Today for a Free, No-obligation Quote!
The truth is that the fulfillment and shipping process can make or break your business. Get it wrong, and you’ll have angry customers who post negative reviews online about your online store. However, if you get it right, you can build a good relationship and secure lifelong customers.
Contact us today to get a free quote and find out more about all we have to offer you and your eCommerce business!