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How to Improve Your E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Process

BeProfit logo - a white letter "b" on a purple background
By BeProfit Staff
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published July 29, 2022.

Woman in yellow vest and white helmet holding a box package standing next to a stack of other box packages and open laptop

E-commerce order fulfillment is the process by which a customer's order is filled and delivered. This can include ordering and shipping merchandise, as well as handling returns and refunds. To ensure that orders are fulfilled quickly and efficiently, e-commerce businesses often use automated systems and warehouses.

Improving your e-commerce order fulfillment process is essential to having a great business. Read on to learn how to achieve this.

Steps in the E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Process

The e-commerce order fulfillment process can seem complicated and daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are the steps you need to take to ensure a smooth and successful transaction:

  1. Receive the order from the customer
  2. Check that the order is complete and correct
  3. Process the payment
  4. Ship the order to the customer's address
  5. Confirm that the order has been delivered successfully

Improving Your Fulfillment Process

For sure. In fact, there are many steps in the e-commerce order fulfillment process that can be improved:

  • Package protection Often, e-commerce companies will just throw products into a box without any thought of protecting them. This can lead to products being damaged in transit, which can cause customer service issues.
  • Update couriers Many e-commerce companies still rely on outdated shipping methods, such as FedEx and UPS. These companies often charge high rates and do not offer tracking information for packages., potentially leading to lost or delayed packages, which can cause customer service issues.
  • Allow customers to track packages Many e-commerce companies do not provide customers with enough information about their orders. This can lead to customer service issues once clients have to contact you in order to access information that should be readily available.

Another factor that you could improve about your e-commerce store is monitoring your ROAS. Learn what a good ROAS for e-commerce is here.

Importance of Order Fulfillment for E-Commerce

When it comes to e-commerce, order fulfillment is one of the most important aspects of a successful business. In order for customers to be satisfied with their purchase, they, of course, wish to receive their order timeously and in good condition.

There are a few key things that you can do to ensure that your order fulfillment process is as smooth as possible. First, make sure that you have a good tracking system in place to ensure that you know exactly where each order is in the process so that you can resolve any issues that arrive as fast as possible.

You should also have a solid plan for shipping orders. You need to make sure that you have enough stock on hand to meet the demand, and that you are shipping orders out as quickly as possible. If you can't ship an order within a 24-48 hours time period, it’s best practice to let the customer know when they make their order.

Struggling to figure out what to charge for shipping? Read our post on calculating shipping costs for e-commerce and our guide to flat-rate shipping.

Types of E-Commerce Order Fulfillment

There are three types of e-commerce order fulfillment:

  1. In-house fulfillment This is when a company completes the order from its place of business, which may increase your profit margin as you don't have to pay for external warehousing or branding.
  2. Dropshipping This is when an e-commerce company sends customer orders to a supplier who then ships the product to the customer from the dropshipping company’s own warehouse. If this is your chosen business model, be sure to take a look at the best dropshipping apps.
  3. 3PL Third-party logistics, or 3PL, is when a company uses a third party to complete an order.

So, Which Fulfillment Technique Is Best?

Well, each type of order fulfillment has its own benefits and drawbacks that may or may not suit an e-commerce business depending on factors like budget, location, or staff availability.

To give you a rough idea, in-house fulfillment is best for companies that want control over the entire process, from ordering to shipping. Dropshipping is good for companies that want to outsource shipping and do not have the time or resources to handle it in-house. 3PL is best for companies that require help to fulfill large orders or need access to specialized shipping and handling equipment.

How to Determine Your E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Strategy

By taking the time to evaluate your options and make a decision that best suits your business, you can ensure that your customers receive the best possible experience.

If possible, consider using a fulfillment center to help manage your shipping and order processing. They can take care of everything for you, from packing and shipping to customer service and returns. If you're just starting your Shopify store, then you should know that there are many dropshipping fulfillment centers available directly from the Shopify app store that can free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Want to learn more about e-commerce? Start with either this guide on the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce or check out this post on the different types of e-commerce business models.