When many eCommerce businesses start out, they manage their storage, picking, packing and returns in-house. Whilst the business remains small, this is the most straight forward way to get packages into customers hands. However, as your business grows, the process of picking, packing and sending more and more orders a day can become overwhelming and take your focus away from business growth. You may find yourself needing to offload some of the work, so handing over eCommerce fulfilment to an expert partner is an effective way to save time and money. Even successful well-established businesses can find themselves outgrowing their operation and turning to third-party eCommerce fulfilment services.

But what is eCommerce fulfilment and how does it work? We’re here to answer all your questions!

parcels being delivered

What is eCommerce fulfilment?

eCommerce fulfilment is the process of getting the stock that you sell on your website into the hands of the customer who ordered it. That includes sorting and picking the correct stock, packing it up, and delivery. Some businesses handle this in house, but others may use a third party to take care of it in a fulfilment centre.

woman in a warehouse with high vis jacket and hard hat on

What is a fulfilment centre?

Every fulfilment centre is different, but essentially, it acts as a hub for storing, prepped and shipped. Many fulfilment centres also serve as an eCommerce warehouse to store your stock. Some fulfilment centres all work out of one hub, while others have multiple centres so they can ship to certain areas even quicker. For example, post-Brexit, many businesses in the UK are choosing to move stock to fulfilment centres in Europe. Doing so means they can easily ship to the EU, bypassing the complication of border checks and additional duties and taxes.

scanning products for product fulfilment

What is the eCommerce order fulfilment process?

When a customer orders from your website, or any number of platforms you sell from such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Etsy and more, the order goes straight to your eCommerce fulfilment partner. Your provider then picks the correct stock for the order, and then packages them up to be sent. The fulfilment centre will work with you to make sure they’re packaged exactly how you want to protect the product when in transit as well as your brand experience. Once the package is ready to go, its shipped directly to your customer.

Will fulfilment companies help with returns?

Just as they take care of your parcels on the way to their customer, fulfilment companies also process returns for you. This means that any re-saleable stock is quickly back on the fulfilment centre shelves ready to go. They can also process any damaged items, and even take care of the customer service aspect of returns too.

warehouse worker collecting parcels for fulfilment

The difference between drop shipping and fulfilment

Drop-shipping refers to the products you sell being shipped straight from your supplier and never owning the stock you are selling. With a fulfilment centre, you ship them to your fulfilment partner who stores them ready for when you need them. You own the goods at the fulfilment centre, it just gets stored and managed for you. Although drop shipping can come with less investment at first, working with an eCommerce fulfilment partner means you have more control over how your products are picked, packed and shipped – ultimately protecting the customer and brand experience.

How much do eCommerce fulfilment services cost?

As with many of these types of services, the cost of a fulfilment centre is based on the amount of products you wish to store, the size and weight of your products and how much you sell per day on average. For a customised quote for GFS Fulfilment, contact us today. We will be happy to discuss your requirement and how we can help!

woman opening a box happy

When is the right time to find a fulfilment company and how do I choose which one?

There are many reasons you might feel like it’s the right time to work with an eCommerce fulfilment service. You may be struggling to keep up with increased demand or need more space. Maybe delivery and returns costs are spiralling, or the customer experience is suffering. Or you might just want the hassle of fulfilment out of your hands, so you can focus on the more important things like growing your business!

Choosing the right fulfilment partner can be tricky and you need to weigh up their reliability, speed, costs and the types of services they offer.

To find out more about choosing the right partner, read our blog:

With GFS Fulfilment, you get the best level of service including:

  • Goods in: Double checked for accuracy and reporting of any quality issues

  • Storage: Regularly refurbished and tailored to suit specific product categories
  • Order management: Instant visibility of despatched orders and stock levels
  • Pick and pack: 99.97% picking accuracy and a range of packaging options, from custom bags and boxes to eco-friendly alternatives
  • Shipping: More than 1,000 delivery services from 50 carriers for more delivery options, with full track and trace facility
  • Returns: Full quality-checking on returns and only placed back in stock if re-saleable.

Interested in our eCommerce fulfilment services?