What is Order Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment is the process of handling, preparing and delivering sales orders to customers.

Larger and more established companies are usually well-equipped to handle this themselves, whereas a smaller business may need to outsource order fulfillment through dropshipping or third party services.

Order fulfillment process

There are more steps involved in ecommerce order fulfillment and shipping to customers than often meets the eye. You’ll need to:

  1. Store products and inventory in a warehouse and put a solid system in place to pick the necessary items for each order.
  2. Pack all products in an order together in the best fitting envelope or box.
  3. Weigh the packed shipment and choose an appropriate shipping provider.
  4. Print out all relevant invoices, packing slips and shipping labels before sealing the package.
  5. Drop each package off at the required place or have them all ready for courier collection by a certain time.
  6. Mark each order as shipped on the relevant marketplace or sales channel and notify the customer via email.
  7. Manage returns should an order arrive damaged or a customer decide they no longer want their purchase.

Order fulfillment models

Taking care of this process is usually done through one of three main order fulfillment models. These are:

  1. Dropshipping. Where a retailer doesn’t see or handle goods themselves, but instead purchases from a third party to pack and ship to customers as new orders come in.
  2. Third party logistics (3PL). Where a retailer owns and controls their own inventory, but sends it to a specialist third party fulfillment service to store and ship to customers.
  3. Self-fulfillment. Where a retailer has their own independent storage and order fulfillment operation in place.

Shipping software

Retailers choosing the self-fulfillment option will likely benefit from implementing dedicated shipping software into their business. This should help automate as much of the ecommerce order fulfillment process as possible and provide a system in which to manage all the steps in one place.

Free downloads

A Retailer's Guide to Mastering Free Shipping

A Retailer's Guide to Mastering Free Shipping

How to build a revenue-driving program that doesn’t eat away at your profits.

Download Free PDF
How to Set Up Inventory in a Warehouse

How to Set Up Inventory in a Warehouse

The only guide you'll ever need to pick, pack and ship ecommerce orders.

Download Free PDF

More Like This

What is Order Fulfillment?

Read now

What is Dropshipping?

Read now

What is Third Party Logistics? (3PL)

Read now

What is Self-Fulfillment?

Read now

What is Order Packing?

Read now

Choosing a Shipping Box

Read now

Choosing Packing Material

Read now

Best USB Warehouse Scales

Read now

Choosing a Shipping Company

Read now

Royal Mail Services

Read now

USPS Shipping Services

Read now

UPS Shipping Services

Read now

DHL Shipping Services

Read now

FedEx Shipping Services

Read now

Printing Labels & Invoices

Read now

Managing Ecommerce Returns

Read now

From the blog

Choosing The Best Company to Fulfill Your Orders With

Choosing the Best Company to Fulfill Your Orders With

Read full article
How to Use Environmentally Friendly Packaging to Create a Killer Brand Image

How to Use Environmentally Friendly Packaging to Create a Killer Brand Image

Read full article