No matter the size of your business, order fulfillment is an essential task that needs to run efficiently. As a business owner, your customers drive your success, and one of the top expectations of all customers is receiving their packages on time and in good condition.

With that said, what is order fulfillment, and how does the order fulfillment process work? This guide will provide an in-depth overview of eCommerce order fulfillment and how Pietra can help you streamline your fulfillment process and run a streamlined business.

What Does Order Fulfillment Mean?

Order fulfillment refers to the process of receiving, packing, and shipping orders to customers after they’ve purchased a product online. In eCommerce, having an order fulfillment process that runs smoothly is essential, as it ensures customers receive products from your shop on time and in quality condition.

Similarly, you might also wonder, what does order fulfilled mean? In online tracking systems, customers can often view the status of their products from the moment they purchase them, such as payment received, ready for shipping, and shipped. At the end of a package’s journey, the status will often update to order fulfilled or delivered, which means a customer received their product.

What Is the Order Fulfillment Process?

To have an order fulfillment process that runs smoothly, you need to know each step of this process first. Below, you’ll find the stages of the order fulfillment process and the details each entails:

Step 1. Receive and manage inventory

In the first step of eCommerce order fulfillment, a company will receive and manage its inventory. This step can look different from company to company, depending on how they want to manage their inventory.

For example, some businesses may have their own warehouse and inventory team receiving their products from their manufacturers and organizing their products to be ready for shipping. In other cases, businesses may turn to order fulfillment companies, where inventory management is taken care of.

At Pietra, our fulfillment services can do the heavy lifting for you by managing your inventory in our warehouses after your suppliers receive it.

Step 2. Customer places an order on your eCommerce site

The second step of the order fulfillment process is when a customer places an order on your eCommerce website. When creating an online shop, it’s important to integrate your eCommerce website with your inventory tracking system, so the third step of the process can take place.

Step 3. Order information is sent to your fulfillment provider

In the third step of the order fulfillment process, the customer’s order information is sent to your fulfillment provider. After a customer has filled their shopping cart, proceeded to checkout, and placed their order, that information will be sent to the order fulfillment center to prepare for shipping.

Step 4. Fulfillment team packs order

The team providing order fulfillment services will then pack the customer’s order. If you have an in-house team and warehouse, this will take place on-premise. However, this can require a lot of time, money, and management. Often, small businesses will work with order fulfillment companies to save time and reduce overhead costs.

Step 5. Customer order is shipped

In most cases, the final step is shipping the customer’s order. To increase customer satisfaction, working with an order fulfillment company that can provide fast shipping times is essential, as it can help you compete with large eCommerce giants like Amazon.

Step 6. Return process is handled

There will inevitably be situations where a customer decides to return their order. Reasons can vary from product damage to accidentally ordering the wrong size. Having a streamlined order fulfillment process that can handle returns is essential, as it ensures customers receive their refund promptly.

Why Is Order Fulfillment Important?

There are several reasons why order fulfillment is essential and why you should have an efficient process to ensure business success. Some of the top reasons why order fulfillment is important include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs
  • Customer loyalty
  • Scalability

What Are the Different Order Fulfillment Types?

There are different order fulfillment types that you should know about to find a process that works for your company. The most common include:

  • In-house order fulfillment: A company handles all inventory and shipping to process customer orders.
    Third-party order fulfillment:** A company outsources order fulfillment to an order fulfillment company, such as Pietra, who can manage, ship, and track inventory.
  • Drop shipping: An order fulfillment process where an eCommerce company doesn’t house inventory themselves. Instead, the eCommerce business makes a sale, and a drop ship supplier will process the order and ship it to customers.
  • Hybrid: When a company combines several order fulfillment types, such as keeping some inventory in-house while outsourcing order fulfillment to meet seasonal demands or sales periods.

What Are Challenges with Order Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment can be a complicated and stressful aspect of running a business, as it requires heavy planning and logistics. With that said, several challenges can arise, such as:

  • Managing inventory
  • Inefficient supply chain strategy
  • International shipping
  • Seasonal demands

With Pietra Fulfillment Services, we can help mitigate these challenges. As a Creator, you can give your order fulfillment service provider specific instructions on how you want your orders to be packaged. This could include custom inserts, labels, and other unique packaging options to make your brand stand out. This gives you control over how your customers receive their orders without having to pack each item yourself.

Additionally, Pietra offers global flat rate shipping, the ability to manage your inventory for you, and low-cost storage in our warehouses.

Fulfill Orders with Pietra

Are you ready to start selling and create a well-oiled business? At Pietra, we can help make that happen. We offer state-of-the-art order fulfillment services, and we can help Creators during every step of their business journey - from designing an eCommerce website to accessing educational resources to become a more robust business leader.

Learn more about how Pietra works and review Pietra pricing to find a plan that works for you.