What it Means to Hire an Outsourced Fulfillment Service
There are tons of companies throughout the United States that are successful simply because they outsource fulfillment services to a third-party company that can handle all of their fulfillment needs. Some of the smaller companies that have customers from all over the world depend on a fulfillment service provider to get the things that their customers order online to the customer in a timely manner.
Since a lot of these companies are home-based and they do a majority of their business through their living rooms or garages they do not have a warehouse big enough or all of the equipment that they need in order to keep things rolling as fast as business goes. With the help of an outside company, they have everything they need to keep up with the demands of all of their customers.
What is Fulfillment?
Fulfillment, in simple terms, means to fulfill an order. The way that an order is fulfilled, however, can be in a number of different ways. For example, if a person goes to an online store and orders a pretty bouquet of flowers for their lover and expects them to be delivered on a certain day at a certain time. As soon as those flowers have been delivered to the person that they were intended for, the order will be considered fulfilled.
Here’s the catch about that: The company that sells the flowers may not have one flower anywhere within a hundred miles from them. Especially when the flowers are ordered online. If a person in Winslow Arizona needs flowers and finds a website that offers to deliver flowers anywhere in the United States you can be sure that the flower-selling company is working with a third party in one aspect or another.
In any event, florists do not usually use a fulfillment company to deliver their flowers. However, companies that sell prescription drugs, clothes, parts, jewelry, and other items from an online store will most likely use a fulfillment service to help them get orders out and delivered.
The way that it all works is that an online store that has a high demand for sales will have locations all over the country that house items that they sell. Depending on the types of items and the size of the items they can have varying needs and costs.
To make things simple we can use an example of a local business that works out of its garage and has an outsourced service to help with fulfillment. A person will come across the website and make an order for whatever the site is selling. It could be vitamins, it could be crystals, and gemstones.
Whatever the case may be when the order is made the person that will be in charge of fulfillment will receive the order via some sort of electronic messaging platform. As soon as the order comes in, and the payment has been verified, the person will locate the item, or items, that have been ordered.
Keep in mind that the company itself is one guy that works out of his garage and that the merchandise that he sells is housed in a warehouse that is managed by a third-party fulfillment center.
When the person that receives the order has verified that it is an actual order they will locate the item within the warehouse by searching for the inventory information listed in the order. Most places will have a system in place where there are three numbers or letters involved. The part number for the order, the number for the rack that the order is stored on and the number for the shelf, and the area of the place where the item is stored.
If the item is stored on rack D on the 4th shelf in the third slot it will be labeled so in the order. When the person finds it and removes it from the shelf to be shipped out it is known as “picking” the order, or item.
Packing and Shipping
When it comes to packing and shipping items for fulfillment there can be a plethora of ways to conduct this service. Some warehouses may have their own built-in delivery service complete with vehicles and delivery staff. Other operations may use delivery services such as UPS or FexEx.
In any event, the next step in the process after picking is for the picker to pack the item securely and ship it out to the customer.
As you can imagine, the way things are packed and shipped can vary greatly from one business to the next. One company may sell shoes or clothing while another may sell glassware or even pets. If you can imagine it being sold online, it can be sold online. There are countless variations of products and items that are sold online every day. Anything between canned foods and adult toys.
A high-quality fulfillment service will conduct business in the same way they would if they were working their own business. Whatever the company sells or does, the third party will act as if they are actually part of the company and make decisions based on what would be most beneficial for the health of the company.
For this example, we will say that the order was for a set of ceramic dishes. Since ceramic is fragile and prone to breakage the person that packs it up will be extra careful to use all of the tools available to them in order to protect the items and keep them from breaking during their trip to wherever.
Once the package is packed the right way and ready to be labeled the worker will affix a printed-out sticker to the package with all of the details for the package to be delivered. The name, the address, and so on.
The next step, obviously, will be to send the item out for delivery. As we mentioned earlier, different businesses will have different ways of shipping out. For the sake of example, we will get it over with and say that this particular business uses a third-party delivery company as well. Once the item is packaged and ready to go it will be put into the outbound shipping box and shipped off at the next opportunity.
Warehousing and Equipment
In the event that the online company sells enough merchandise that an entire warehouse is necessary to be able to fulfill all of the orders the only way they will be able to keep up is if they have their own warehouse equipped with staff and equipment, or they have a full-service fulfillment solution that has everything that is needed for the success of the company.
A top-notch fulfillment service provider will have its own warehouse space to offer all of its customers, within reason. If the online store is a place that sells boats, cars, airplanes, tanks, or other large items there may be a problem…however, since fulfillment comes in so many shapes sizes, and forms there are dynamic services available that will be able to accomplice some of the most complicated endeavors.
What A Fulfillment Service Does
A high-quality fulfillment service will be able to move dynamically in a way that helps the customer achieve the way they do business. In most cases, the service will house the merchandise and process the items as they come in while dealing with customers and issues as if they were their own.