There are many important aspects of business that must be tended to. Chief among them, perhaps, is the supply chain. A successful business won’t last too long by promising its customers quality products but not delivering them. Though this is a pretty obvious statement, it belies the complexities that are in play when dealing with eCommerce, marketing channels and inventory needs. ECommerce fulfillment can be an extraordinarily helpful tool when keeping tabs on the logistics of the supply chain.
What Is Ecommerce Fulfillment?
ECommerce fulfillment is effectively the part of your business plan that ensures that products are shipped to customers. It encompasses getting the product into the fulfillment center, picking, packing and shipping those products. There are third-party eCommerce fulfillment providers who handle all aspects of this part of a business, for a fee.
What Does a Third-party Fulfillment Provider Do?
Efficient third-party fulfillment providers take the stress from the supply and demand aspect of the business model. They take on the burden of taking care of the inventory, from its arrival at their centers to the final shipping order. Because this element of the business is the only thing that they focus on, all their energies go towards helping other businesses to run smoothly. The four major components of the eCommerce Fulfillment process are product integration, receiving and inventory management, order fulfillment and returns.
When a company is in business with a third-party provider, the product that they manufactured as their brand is shipped to a fulfillment warehouse. Because of technology such as SKU and M2M, (machine to machine), the process of informing inventory queries has become automated.
SKUs are the codes that each product a company sells is identified by. Rather than count how many Twix bars have been sold in a given week, the automated process that kicks in when the SKU is scanned, and sold, and the inventory count is instantly rectified. M2M is the technology that allows machines to communicate with one another and send data to the network. This means that every product ordered, from any marketing channel, will be accounted for in the network. In other words, the warehouse manager will instantly know, at a given moment, how much product is in the warehouse, on the shelves, or is pending.
Consider the supply chain, operating with multiple sales channels, such as email and content marketing, social media and affiliate networks. If orders were pouring in from all of these channels without an automated process, it would be up to people to manually keep track of the inventory. At best, this is a much slower process and at worst, mistakes are made that could cost the business. Contrarily, automated functioning not only tracks inventory, it can also process statistical information and inform any number of details about a product, such as how it is trending.
What Should You Look For in an Ecommerce Provider?
As a business whose success relies upon excellent service from your provider, you want to be able to access your supply chain information whenever you want. On the other hand, no news can be good news. If distribution is running smoothly, your business manager merely has to log onto the network software shared with the provider to examine the numbers. If there is a potential for issues to arise, the smart technology described above can provide early detection, the better to fix it. For instance, when a product is running low and there is an upcoming event that has been previously shown to boost sales, extra product can be secured so that there are no shortages.
Business is only as good as the elements that comprise it. Every aspect of your business could be humming, but if you’ve got problems with the supply chain, you’ve got trouble. Maintaining eCommerce fulfillment is tantamount to keeping your customers happy and your brand’s reputation intact. Providers earn their keep by keeping you and your customers happy, and when functioning properly, eCommerce fulfillment can be a breeze.