Order fulfillment is the process from the moment a customer purchases an item online to that item arriving at the customer’s doorstep. Generally, order fulfillment describes the way you get your products to your customers.
There are three general methods for order fulfillment:
- Merchant fulfillment
- Third-party fulfillment
- Drop shipping
Merchant fulfillment is when you ship orders in-house. Third-party fulfillment is typically through a fulfillment center, like ShipBob. Drop shipping is a subset of third-party fulfillment where a product is stored and shipped by the manufacturer for products you sell wholesale.
Order fulfillment through a third-party means a fulfillment center is packing and shipping orders as they come in on behalf of the customer. This is a popular method because of its many advantages.
Fulfillment centers store, pick, pack, and ship products as the orders roll in. Fulfillment centers often have more resources than merchants who pack and ship their own orders. These resources ensure a smooth, quick order fulfillment process to stockouts, oversales, mis-ships, and mis-picks.
ShipBob offers order fulfillment with a wide range of services.
- Quick onboarding process (that’s free). You can get setup to ship packages using ShipBob in less than 15 minutes.
- Distributed inventory. Fulfillment centers like ShipBob offer distributed inventory where your products are stored in warehouses across the country to reduce the price and time associated with shipping inventory to your customers. ShipBob has warehouses in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Francisco – with more being added. This allows for two-day shipping and is often thought to be an option only for large enterprises, but has become accessible for small to mid-sized companies as well.
- Inventory management. ShipBob offers an easy, central dashboard to manage inventory, review orders, and communicate with customers. ShipBob will send low inventory reminders to ensure you never run out of product.
- Free returns management. ShipBob will also process returns and integrate the products back into the supply chain quickly – with no extra fees for you.
- Your packaging. ShipBob will pack orders in your packaging or in plain brown boxes. Either way, your brand is front and center – not ShipBob’s. Your customers never even have to know that you used a fulfillment center.
- Bulk discounts. Even if you’re only shipping one package a month, you can take advantage of the cheapest rates ShipBob has negotiated with all of the major U.S. carriers including FedEx, DHL, UPS, and USPS. They always pass those savings onto you.
- World-class support. All of ShipBob’s warehouses are staffed with their own employees. No outsourcing. It’s good to have a partner that’s got your back. ShipBob is here for you when you need it.
Fulfillment centers are experts in their field. Most companies do not go into business to pack boxes, but fulfillment centers do. Rather than dedicating your own staff to ensuring that each box is packed quickly and efficiently, fulfillment centers can automate these time-consuming tasks. This allows you and your employees to focus on what only you can do best and eliminate the other tasks.
Additionally, fulfillment centers not only reduce the strain on your staff, but on your infrastructure. Fulfillment centers make it possible for businesses to seamlessly scale. For merchants that fulfil their own orders, space can become an issue. Fulfillment centers can store more inventory than most online merchants, so you don’t have to worry about running into any growing pains as your business expands.
ShipBob automatically manages and fulfills orders from your online store. ShipBob can integrate with your online store software, including Shopify, Amazon, WooCommerce, and more. It’s a simple setup, with onboarding taking less than 15 minutes.
Even if you’re a startup or small business, with ShipBob, you can offer turnaround and shipping times on par with national retailers. This means offering your customers two-day shipping anywhere in the continental U.S. without breaking the bank.
Try ShipBob today for free and see how much time you save.