eCommerce Fulfillment Services: Everything You Need to Know
As your business grows, you may find that handling and managing order fulfillment for your online store is becoming an increasingly large part of your day-to-day workload and resources.
Whereas everyone knows how much time and energy goes into creating or sourcing products and driving sales, it’s easy to underestimate what it takes to manage your warehouse, package your products up and ship them off.
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There are several options for order fulfillment:
Store, package, and ship the products yourself or with the help of your team
Rely on dropshipping, where you can facilitate orders with third-party sellers who then handle the packaging and shipping
Take advantage of a third-party fulfillment service that will assist you with controlling your inventory, storing your products and fulfilling orders
For businesses who have scaled to the point where they could benefit from having someone else house and ship their products, fulfillment services are something to look into.
In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about eCommerce fulfillment services:
What is a fulfillment service?
A fulfillment service is a third-party warehouse that will store, prepare, and ship your eCommerce orders for you. They ideally have locations placed relatively near customers so that they’re able to make deliveries quickly.
The whole point is to get products to the customers fast, efficiently, and without an added hassle to you (for more on eCommerce logistics, check out our guide). You don’t need to worry about paying workers overtime to manage rush shipments, or to find enough space at your base of operations to store or organize your inventory.
If you’ve ever wondered how Amazon offers fast and sometimes even same-day deliveries, this is how: they have multiple fulfillment centers all over the country. This service is called FBA, which stands for Fulfillment By Amazon.
Even if you’re using a standard shipping service through USPS (and not private delivery drivers like Amazon), products will still get to customers rapidly when they’re shipped from a zipcode away as opposed to being a country-wide distance apart.
How do fulfillment services work?
Deliver your inventory to the product warehouse. They can be delivered by you or your team directly if you’d like, or they can come straight from the manufacturer.
Provide the fulfillment center with branded packaging. This may include boxes or envelopes that the products will ship in, branded tape, and brochures or packing materials that they’ll include in the boxes. Some companies, for example, will have a branded envelope, a brochure or postcard offering a discount for the next order, and branded tissue paper to wrap the product in.
Once they have the products, the fulfillment center will store and manage them for a set fee. It’s best to only provide the fulfillment center with the number of products that you can realistically sell within a month or so. Otherwise, you may end up with higher costs due to extended storage. If you have additional products, you may want to store them elsewhere until needed.
The fulfillment center will let you know what realistic ship dates they can offer. They often have relationships with multiple carriers, which may include (but is not limited to) USPS, FedEx, UPS, and potentially private local delivery services. They can let you know what ship dates that you can list for different zip codes, and information like “all orders placed by 1 pm will be shipped out the same day.” You can then offer your customers detailed information regarding pricing shipping times based on the rates and timeframes the fulfillment center gives you. Take advantage of the discounts available from the fulfillment centers to offer your customers competitive shipping rates while reducing your costs.
When an order goes through your system, it patches through straight to the fulfillment center. They’ll pack and ship your item for you by the agreed-upon times and send you and/or your customers a tracking number.
What are the benefits of working with a shipment fulfillment service?
You can significantly increase your revenue. On average, Wix eCommerce businesses who use fulfillment service centers increase sales’ revenue by 25%.
Your items will be shipped faster. On average, fulfillment time is reduced by 16% for Wix businesses who integrate a fulfillment service. Faster fulfillment rates can positively impact your repeat sales rates and customer retention rates, because everyone loves getting things quickly.
You don’t need to store all of your products yourself. Renting storage space, hiring a warehouse staff and managing your inventory can be an enormous hassle. If you’re able to offload that burden, it can make a significant impact on storage costs and day-to-day tasks.
You can lock in lower-cost shipping rates. Your customers may not be thrilled to pay $20 shipping costs, but if that’s the best you can get, then that’s what someone has to pay. Since fulfillment centers have often-unbeatable deals on shipping fees, this is a major advantage to consider.
It can facilitate inventory management. Do you order too much, or too little? Many advanced fulfillment services have in-depth analytics to help you determine how much you should order of each product. This saves you money and avoids disasters of having orders placed that you can’t fulfill.
You’ll be able to focus more time on other parts of managing your business. Do you want to spend time hunting down products, packaging up boxes, and shipping things out on time? Most small business owners would rather be focused on tasks like coordinating with marketing teams, securing financing, or brainstorming new products. Handing over a consistently time-consuming and never-ending task can give you more time to focus on tasks that actually need your attention.
How to know when to outsource to a fulfillment service company
Completing orders is taking up too much time. Your team ends up not completing other tasks on time because they’re running around trying to fulfill orders. If you ever find yourself falling behind due to order fulfillment, it’s time to look at making a change.
The orders are going out wrong. When your team gets overwhelmed, mistakes happen. There’s no way around that. And if orders continually go out incorrectly, it can be expensive to rectify and you may even lose customers in the process.
Returns are becoming an issue. Do you have too many returns to keep up with? Fulfillment centers can help you manage that, too.
Read more about when to outsource to a third-party logistics provider to see if it’s a good fit.
3 fulfillment service companies that can improve your business
There are plenty of different fulfillment services to choose from depending on your location and your business’s specific needs. We recommend checking out these eCommerce fulfillment service companies that all have great reputations for being reliable, fast, and having far-reaching range.
To add a fulfillment service to your Wix eCommerce website, on your dashboard, go to Settings > Store Shipping, and then click Add Fulfillment Service.
ShipBob is an easy top choice when it comes to fulfillment companies that eCommerce sites should consider working with.
They have more than ten fulfillment centers across Canada, the United States, and Europe to ensure fast delivery times no matter where your customers are located. ShipBob’s pricing is transparent, factoring in shipping speed, the weight of the package, and distance traveled to give you a fair and accurate price.
If you created your eCommerce site with Wix, you can easily connect your catalog to ShipBob and send them inventory based on expected demand right from your dashboard. On your product listings, choose to have the product fullfilled by Shipbob in the dropdown pictured below.
Printful is primarily a print-on-demand company, but it recently began offering fulfillment services as well. Make use of their warehouses located throughout the world to store and manage your inventory and fulfill your orders.
Just remember that this service is completely separate from their print-on-demand services, so don’t expect them to start printing designs onto your products.
If you created your store with Wix, you can easily integrate Printful by visiting the Wix app market.
Red Stag Fulfillment’s mission is to act as an extension of your business, taking the stress off of you. They take great care to track your products as soon as they receive them, and you’ll keep you updated with live reporting so you always know what’s happening with your products and your orders.
They currently have two fulfillment centers distributed across the US, and two more are currently in development.
Fulfillment services can work well for businesses trying to outsource some parts of their business or those who have a large number of orders at scale. Finding services that take some time-consuming tasks off your plate while also passing along shipping discounts to you or your customers is a huge advantage.
Ready to start your eCommerce journey? Create your online store today.
Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce
Brielle is a Colorado native with a passion for innovation and helping to mobilize entrepreneurs. Brielle is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce, which powers over 700k online stores worldwide.