How Does Order Fulfillment Work? Uncover Its 5 Crucial Steps




E-commerce fulfillment is the progression of delivering orders to customers who shop online. This includes tasks such as receiving inventory, storing and packaging products, shipping orders, and processing customer service and returns.

Competent and trustworthy order fulfillment helps establish customer trust and brand loyalty. The way you handle e-commerce shipping and other steps of the fulfillment process can be the key to your company’s success.

Let’s have an in-depth look at how order fulfillment works.


Step 1 – Receive the Well-Managed Inventory

The very first step in your fulfillment strategy will likely be to source the products you ought to sell and store them in an easily accessible location. Be mindful that this could be your place of business, a warehouse, or another storage destination.

If you work with a third party, they may be responsible for receiving the inventory. You should learn about their guidelines for professional packaging and labeling to expedite the process of receiving goods and prevent damaging products while in transit.

This crucial step of the fulfillment process may not be necessary if you leverage direct order fulfillment solutions, such as drop shipping. However, you may still need to coordinate with a manufacturer, retailer, or other company to source products.


Step 2 –Store the Inventory Efficiently

You will likely need to store inventory and monitor stock levels from the time you receive it to the time customers place their orders.

Using fulfillment status designations such as “awaiting fulfillment,” “pending fulfillment,” and “fulfilled” can assist you in managing inventory and keeping buyers well-informed as part of a smooth customer communication approach.

Make sure inventory is easily accessible so you can easily track stock levels and quickly access units to fulfill orders. Whether you use a garage, spare room, or one or more storage rooms, make sure the space can accommodate seasonal fluctuations in demand, such as holidays.


Step 3 – Process Orders

As soon as a customer has made a transaction, order fulfillment begins instantly. Pick-and-pack fulfillment is the most common order fulfillment system.

It involves opting for the right quantities of products and goods to fulfill an order and packing them with the appropriate materials for shipping purposes. The most significant part of order fulfillment is selecting the right packaging options, such as;

  • Boxes
  • Paper or bubble mailers
  • Packaging materials,which include bubble wrap or air fillers

It can also be beneficial to have a cutting-edge system for labels to ensure that products reach the right customers as quickly as they can.


Step 4 – Ship E-commerce Products

How will you deliver the products to valued customers? For small orders, delivery/shipment can be as simple as a quick trip to the mailbox. On the other hand, for larger orders, you may need to use palletized shipments and truckloads, such as less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL).


Step 5 – Returns Processing

Returns are a customary part of e-commerce, so don’t let them discourage you. Clothing supplies are the most frequently returned products in the world of online retail, accounting for 75% of returns.

So, it’s best to ensure that you have a process in place for the effective handling of returns, how to take them back, sort out defective products, and refund customers. This may also include helpful instructions on how to return products.

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