Guide to eCommerce Order Fulfillment

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ecommerce order fulfillment
Ecommerce order fulfillment

What Is Order Fulfilment in eCommerce?

Order fulfillment is receiving and processing an order, packaging the item requested, shipping the item, and delivering it to the location specified by the customer who ordered the item. All of this is done by a certain delivery date, which is usually specified upon ordering.

eCommerce order fulfillment means that the order is made online, and the customer could be in an entirely different location from where you are or where your main store is.

ecommerce fulfillment

If you have a warehouse close to their location that stores that product, you (or a shipping partner) can send the customer the item from the warehouse closest to them.

The order packing process can be done by the company's employees, or it can be done by a third-party company.

You can also work with an eCommerce fulfillment company to store your products in their warehouse if you don’t have your own. This allows you to expand the places you can deliver to faster. And faster, cheaper delivery is something customers value.

Ecommerce fulfillment mechanisms

How Does eCommerce Order Fulfillment Work?

eCommerce order fulfillment companies can perform in one or more distribution centers. This process includes reviewing stocks, checking supply chains, processing incoming orders, checking quality, and providing support to customers who report a problem or want to return or replace a product.

Receipt of Inventory

Goods or products can come from different sources and in different forms. Nevertheless, that products that arrive at a warehouse must be counted, checked, and listed to make sure that the right quantity and items have arrived. Receipt and storage processes can be facilitated by SKUs or bar codes stamped on products.

Inventory Storage

Once the goods have been received, they are listed and then paid immediately or sent for storage, which can be short-term or long-term. The products are stored as long as necessary to be useful for arranging the distribution of goods for current sale.

Executing Orders

The management system deals with the processing of orders, control of pick-up activities, and packaging of incoming orders.


People or automated machines (robots) who make up the picking team select the products from storage that are specified by the customer’s order. Important specifications of that item are imprinted on the packaging of the item.


Members of the packing team select the packaging materials, check the dimensions, and perform some computational operations necessary for the inspection. They also add necessary materials or labels, such as if the customer wants to return the product and request a refund.

Shipping Fee

This is last step in eCommerce order fulfillment. The company sends products to the transport hub, and shippers and carriers process transportation costs depending on the weight or dimensions of your package.

Refund Processing

The product return or replacement process begins with the inclusion of labels or materials marked for return with the customer's actual order. Usually, buyers can only return a product that is unused. The product returns to the distributor who refunds the buyer.

ecommerce order fulfillment
Order fulfillment in eCommerce

Types of eCommerce Order Fulfillment

We distinguish four types of order fulfillment. Each model has different specifications, so you can choose what suits you best.


Every procedure and task in eCommerce order fulfillment is performed internally, or by your own company.

Third Party Distributor

You work with other businesses for steps in the order fulfillment process. You might store your products in another company’s warehouse or utilize shipping services offered by an affiliate company.

It is necessary that all activities of filling the distributor's order are optimized for better and more accurate further fulfillment.


There is no intermediary between the buyer and distributor, which saves the buyer money. It can also save your company money since you aren’t using another company’s services to distribute your product.

The disadvantage of this model is that if your distribution center isn’t near your customer’s address, it can take a long time for the customer to receive their order. If you’re shipping something to someone in another country, that can also incur the costs of customs and duties.


This model is a combination of several models, where your company can choose when and in what way to make the delivery specifically for each order.

There may be more heavy processing for this type of fulfillment model, but you’ll be better able to optimize the distribution method for each situation.

how to retain customers with ecommerce fulfillment
eCommerce fulfillment customer satisfaction

How to Gain and Retain Customers with eCommerce Fulfillment Methods

It’s important to know what is needed to make sure your products are delivered in a way that keeps your customers happy.

Understand Your Customers’ Wants

First, you want to understand who your ideal customers are. What is your targeted customer niche? Or in other words, what are the main age groups and regions your customers are in? What are their interests and how does that align with your products and distribution methods?

For example, if your customer age group is 20-30 and most live in the US, and they are buying kitchen supplies from your site, are they likely to be willing to wait longer to receive their products for a cheaper price, or are they more likely to want products sooner and be willing to pay shipping fees?

Knowing the answers to these types of questions could mean the difference between an optimized eCommerce order fulfillment process and a resource-sucking one.

Optimize Delivery for Order Type

The type of order matters too. Is this a one-time order or a subscription? If it’s a one-time order that has a subscription option, it may be possible to turn that one-time customer into a subscriber if they have a good experience with your product the first time.

So, it may be worth it to work with a distributor to store products closer to those who order them.

If it’s a subscription item already, then it’s important that the item gets to the customer by the expected delivery date. So if their subscription is once a month, you may be able to send them the product from further away since you know long beforehand when the customer expects the order.

Design Your Boxes

You might not say so, but the look of the box in which you pack your products is very important.

Of course, the budget is important to everyone and we’d all like to get ideal packaging for little money. But even with a modest budget, you can build your brand and style.

The look of the box, its flexibility as well as the dimensions are all important features when designing your boxes.

Choose Ideal Box Sizes

The functionality of your box is extremely important. It would be nice to have a box of universal dimensions in which to pack all your orders. However, as shipping costs are determined by the size and weight of your package, you do not want to pay for the delivery of empty space.

Consider the dimensions of the items you are selling; it is good to have boxes of different sizes so that you can pack all the goods.

Protect Your Products

The box in which you pack the items should protect them and thus be appropriately strong for the item inside. Some products, such as clothing or materials, can be put into sealed packaging bags.

Products such as silverware, glass, and most electronics should be in a sturdy box with any empty space filled with bubble wrap, paper, or other soft packing materials.

Security tape helps prevent tampering. If you are sending fragile items, it is advisable not to mark on the box what you are sending and to fill the inside well so that the item remains stable during transport. There is also a five-point testing process that involves throwing the box in five different ways.

Promote Your Brand

You can also use your boxes to promote your brand, especially if you distribute them yourself. For example, all Amazon boxes and tape have their logo on it. You can design something simple like this too.

Depending on your budget, you can have a custom box design made for your company, or you can use boxes that are already designed. Stickers with your logo, stamps, or simple tape are good alternatives if you use already designed boxes.

get customers with order fulfillment methods
More tips about ecommerce order fulfillment

How to Further Attract Customers

Offer your customers discounts or coupons: when someone has already ordered your products more than once before, this indicates they are satisfied with the quality and service. To keep that customer and increase their satisfaction even more, you can offer them a discount, coupons, or something similar.

Sample Testing

Free samples are good marketing when you want to attract new customers or offer something new to existing customers. You will also check how satisfied people are with your new item.

Small Gifts

We all love small tokens and rewards, so surprise your customers with a small gift, like 25% off their next order or free shipping. Customers will also be incentivized to buy more to take advantage of this opportunity to get a discount.


eCommerce Order Fulfillment Capabilities

If you need order fulfillment capabilities built into your eCommerce platform, or you’re looking for a platform that has that already, Clarity can help. We specialize in eCommerce integrations and development, and our eCommerce platform has the fulfillment capabilities you need to grow a successful business.

ecommerce order fulfillment developers
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Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures who stays up to date on the latest trends in eCommerce, software development, and related topics to provide readers with the latest and greatest. She strives to help people like you realize the full potential for their eCommerce business.