E-commerce fulfillment refers to the entire process involved in delivering products to buyers after they order them online – whether the purchase takes place on your own website or an online marketplace. From receiving and storing inventory to processing orders, picking products, and packing boxes, to delivering items to the buyer’s addresses, e-commerce fulfillment spans the entire logistics function.

The ecommerce fulfillment process has six basic components, including:

Receiving and inventory management are critical steps in the e-commerce fulfillment process. Receiving involves counting all incoming product and verifying whether it matches your inbound purchase order (PO), and ensuring that inventory is safe, secure, and properly accounted for until fulfilled and shipped. If counts are incorrect at this stage in the game, inventory counts will be inaccurate and can lead to unexpected stock outs.

Inventory is safeguarded by have strict controls over receiving and fulfillment, as well as periodically performing cycle and/or yearly counts to ensure accuracy. Most e-commerce fulfillment companies will also have an inventory management system in places that allows you to always check your inventory levels.

As orders are placed on your e-commerce channels, warehouse staff must then pick the orders, pack them, and ship them. Modern warehouses utilize technology to pick the orders without error, including bar code scanning and other technologies. E-commerce orders are usually smaller in nature, usually consisting of only one item or a few items total.

The process isn’t complete, however, once your customer receives his or her order. E-commerce fulfillment strategies must also account for returns processing, as well as servicing customers’ questions, requests, and complaints.

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