How well do you fulfill your online orders?
You probably have room for improvement. All types of sellers face the challenge of perfecting this process.
It isn’t easy to turn your current fulfillment practices into an efficient and cost-effective process that still provides the best value to your customers. That’s why many sellers turn to eFulfillment services for help.
If you’ve been thinking about changing how you do fulfillment, here’s 5 things everyone should know about eFulfillment services.
1. What is eFulfillment?
In broad terms, eFulfillment is the all the people, processes and technology it takes to deliver an online order to a customer. The key is to make all of these come together to create a positive customer experience before, during, and after a sale.
For you, eFulfillment includes everything from the online checkout process, payment provider, and order management system, to the the steps taken to pick, pack, and ship the order. Instead of doing all these yourself, you can use an eFulfillment service to do them for you.
eFulfillment services can also be referred to as 3rd party logistics (3PLs) or pick and pack fulfillment services.
At the end of 2014, U.S e-trail sales surpassed $300 billion for the first time. This number is expected to keep growing as online shopping continues to increase.
If you want to handle the increase in online orders, then you’ll need to use an eFulfillment service that works for you.
2. eFulfillment services can save you time and money.
Whether you’re new to selling online or not, eFulfillment can save you time and money, when done properly. eFulfillment services automatically fulfill your orders for you. This saves you from:
- Stopping your business when you’re on the road or vacation
- Hiring employees just to fulfill orders
- Renting warehouse space to store inventory, instead you can store it with the eFulfillment provider’s warehouse
- Investing in technology to efficiently pick, pack, ship, and track orders
- Handling logistics for returns
- Spending too much fulfilling orders, taking away time spend on marketing and customer experience
While these benefits are easy to distinguish for yourself, there are also many benefits for your customers, too.
3. eFulfillment is crucial to your customer experience.
One major difference between buying in-store versus online is that when you buy online, you have to wait for the product. When you buy in-store, you usually get to walk away with it right there.
What happens during the time a customer waits for their online order is crucial to the overall customer experience.
When customers enter in their credit card information online, before they even have the product, they expect you to deliver. When you don’t, you’re going to lose customers.
The challenging part of fulfillment is that a lot can go wrong between the time an order is placed and when it’s shipped to their doorstep.
Sellers can miss the order, not have inventory to ship, enter the wrong shipping address, and take too long to ship. Not to mention that the package may never get there or the item can be damaged when it does arrive. The list can go on and on.
When you’re handling fulfillment for your own online orders, these mistakes are easier to make. This is especially true when you become overwhelmed with an influx of orders.
Some of these mistakes can be eliminated when using a service that specializes in eFulfillment. Your orders will be automatically fulfilled. You can trust your provider to deliver.
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eFulfillment services then help you provide a better customer experience. You can offer faster shipping times, guarantee well-packed items, consistent on-time delivery, and an easy return process.
More shoppers are turning to Amazon to make purchases because of Amazon’s reputation for shipping. Customers know that they’ll get their package shipped for an affordable price, fast, and on-time. They’re reliable. It’s an overall better customer experience.
Think about it. How many times have you gone to buy an item off of Amazon instead of using a retailer’s site? I know I have for these exact reasons.
4. eFulfillment is a competitive advantage.
Just as Amazon uses their fulfillment as a competitive advantage, so can you.
Sellers with a reliable and consistent fulfillment process gain a competitive advantage in the market.
Would you buy online from someone who can offer 2-day shipping for free or 5-7 day shipping for $15? That’s a quick decision for your customers.
If your competition is Amazon or other online sellers, customers will compare shipping times, delivery, and costs.
eFulfillment services can help you offer 2-day shipping for free because of automatic order fulfillment and cost savings. You’ll win over more potential customers.
5. Choosing the right eFulfillment provider is hard.
Deciding you need an eFulfillment service is easy. Choosing the best provider, however, is hard.
There’s a lot choices available. Choosing the right one for your business needs is going to take a little bit of research.
To help you, we’ve put together guidelines for choosing a pick and pack service that’s right for you. Check out the guidelines in our article, How to Choose a Pick and Pack Service That Actually Saves You Money.
Now that you know our top 5 things about eFulfillment, you can start your research for an eFulfillment service.
With your guidelines in tow, here are some popular eFulfillment services to take a look at:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), read Is FBA Worth the Cost?
- Rakuten Super Logistics, formerly Webgistix
- Red Stag Fulfillment
- eFulfillment Service
If you’re considering FBA, click the image below to check out our FBA Amazon Guide.
My company has been using eFulfillment Service for about 5 years now, with volume of about 3,500 parcels per year. We’ve had our ups and downs with EFS over the years. Early on EFS had very slow ship times, with regular ground shipments usually taking 2 to 3 days to ship after they received an order. Fortunately in 2016 they greatly reduced that to same day shipping on ground orders that came in by early morning.
Important for anyone linking their shopping cart to EFS (almost everyone), EFS does not offer two-way XML data exchange with carts, so your cart can send them orders, but they cannot send stock data back to your cart to keep stock levels current in your shopping cart. However, you can hire a coder to write a custom XML app to do so if you have the money.
Historically, we had very little loss from stock missing or theft, but that increased significantly in 2016, with losses apparently from theft or loss of stock, not accounting errors. EFS does pack shipments well so we had very few losses from damaged shipments. Stock accounting errors have become more frequent, with significant losses that we had to haggle over being reimbursed for, and having to provide documentation to prove quantities shipped to them. While ship times improved greatly and satisfactorily in 2016, stock check-in times became ridiculously slow, with a week to 10 days to check in our stock being the norm since August of 2016. We were initially told these very long check-in times were due to the pre-holiday season approaching, but those excruciatingly slow check-in times have continued into March 2017. EFS is apparently undergoing some sort of staffing crisis, because they have given up on even responding to our requests to get our shipments to them checked into stock. I’m looking for a new fulfillment service since we can’t afford to plan on 10-day dock to stock times. I suspect EFS is too small to compete effectively with the big boys. I also suspect many of the glowing 5-star reviews elsewhere were planted by EFS, and small businesses who don’t have much experience with fulfillment services.