Fulfillment centers let online merchants outsource warehousing, packing, and shipping orders, rather than having to self-fulfill all orders (which can be time-consuming and inefficient). For companies without their own warehouses, this can be an invaluable service. It frees up the need to store products on site. Products can be sent to the fulfillment center (or centers) by the merchant or the factory. Then, staff at the fulfillment center will pack and ship out orders as they come in.
- Inventory management. With ShipBob, you can track your inventory, keep tabs on your stock, and receive notifications if you if you start running low on a product.
- Order management. ShipBob offers a central software dashboard that shows real-time information about order statuses. Answering customer questions is a breeze, since it includes a live tracking feature.
- Distributed inventory. You can distribute your stock across the country at any of ShipBob’s storage facilities. This ensures faster ship times and reduced cost for your customers.
Fulfillment centers streamline inventory management, which can prevent overselling or stock-outs (and consequently, angry customers) before they happen. Fulfillment centers also reduce the number of mishaps and mispicks. Employees who work at fulfillment centers do not also need to juggle customer service; they get to focus on packing and shipping orders without any other conflicting priorities.
Whenever items are being fulfilled from only one location and then shipped across the country to the end customer, delivery times can creep up to a week or more. Alternatively, it can cost a significant amount of money for expedited two to three-day shipping via air.
A more modern and practical variation of utilizing fulfillment centers is distributed inventory, where the retailer chooses to distribute their physical goods across different fulfillment centers throughout geographically dispersed areas to achieve a lower transit time and cheaper shipping costs. This way, inventory is shipped from the fulfillment center that’s closest to the customer. Furthermore, if there’s a temporary spike in demand in a particular region, other centers can step in by either sharing inventory or fulfilling orders themselves.
Outsourcing fulfillment can save money and time for any growing business. Choosing to leverage a company that’s an expert in the space can achieve many efficiencies. A major factor in choosing the appropriate fulfillment center(s) is to understand where the consumers (or buyers) exist and predict their demand. The closer the inventory is to the consumers, the faster the product can get to them. In addition, costs are significantly lower, as items can be shipped via ground rather than air.
Ultimately, fulfillment empowers online merchants to offer a smooth online buying experience.
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