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Warehousing & Fulfillment

eCommerce Fulfillment Services: A Guide to Why You Need One

Warehousing & Fulfillment
February 2, 2024
18 min read
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Learn everything about eCommerce fulfillment services and why you should prioritize them, and cement your understanding through real-life case studies.

Imagine your online store boasts the best products and your sales and marketing team is unrivaled. But have you fully thought through your eCommerce fulfillment services?

What do you do if once the order goes through, your customers wait… and wait? Chances are, they won’t return.

The stats don’t lie — the US cart abandonment rate hovers around 70%, with slow delivery among the top 5 culprits. That’s why having an efficient eCommerce fulfillment service is a must.



Read our step-by-step guide on how to exceed customer expectations consistently.



Consumers demand speed, and you must grasp the intricacies of fulfillment to deliver. We can help. With real-life case studies, we’ll show you how to create a rock-solid fulfillment service that keeps customers returning. 

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What Is eCommerce Fulfillment & Why Does It Matter?

What Does the eCommerce Fulfillment Process Entail?

What Are the Different eCommerce Fulfillment Models?

What Are the Benefits of Third-Party Logistics?

Case Study: Going to Market With a Fulfillment Strategy in Place

Video Case Study: 100 Thieves + Ware2Go

Why Should You Prioritize Fulfillment in Your eCommerce Strategy?

Consumer Delivery Preferences for eCommerce Fulfillment in 2024

Video Case Study: EC4Kids + Ware2Go eCommerce Fulfillment Services

Your eCommerce Strategy + A Complete Fulfillment Service

FAQ section

What Is eCommerce Fulfillment, and Why Does It Matter?

A person at a computer

eCommerce order fulfillment is the final phase of your eCommerce supply chain. It involves storing products in an eCommerce fulfillment center, picking and packing orders, and shipping products to your end customer. These final steps in your supply chain are sometimes the most costly, so it’s important to have a well-thought-out eCommerce fulfillment strategy, including how to outsource fulfillment.

Global eCommerce growth shows no signs of slowing down. In 2024, it’s expected to increase by 9.4% to reach $6.3 billion. Customer expectations for fast shipping have consistently remained high.

Understanding how these expectations shape consumer preferences and drive customer lifetime value will help you see your fulfillment operations as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

A major benefit of eCommerce is the ability to scale quickly. If you can get your product in front of the right customers, sales have the potential to skyrocket overnight. However, if you can’t get your products into the hands of your customers quickly, you risk making a poor first impression on new customers.

According to Steve Denton, CEO of Ware2Go (a UPS Company), eCommerce fulfillment is the key to creating excellent customer experiences that lead to repeat purchases.

What Does the eCommerce Fulfillment Process Entail?

an infographic of the eCommerce fulfillment process

Let’s understand the different parts of the eCommerce fulfillment process step-by-step:

  • Inventory Arrival and Management: First up, the inventory (whether from your warehouse or a third-party supplier) needs to be counted, checked, and logged against an advance shipment notice (ASN) to make sure the quantity and quality are acceptable.
  • Storage Optimization/Warehousing: Once the goods are received, they’re immediately sent for delivery or stored in a fulfillment warehouse. In an eCommerce fulfillment center, products are in constant motion — either swiftly shipped out or strategically stored until they’re needed, based on real-time inventory changes.
  • Order Retrieval and Packaging: A warehouse management system (WMS) coordinates the picking and packing of each order, using packaging that minimizes dimensional weight to reduce shipping costs. (package length X width X height.)
  • Dispatch and Delivery: Your fulfillment partner’s robust logistics network ensures those parcels are expediently handed off to your chosen delivery carrier. Most 3PL companies work with carriers that let you choose the shipping method that helps you provide the best customer experience.
  • Returns Management: There’s a system in place to handle product returns. It includes quality control and sorting. The products are either restocked, returned to the vendor for a refund/credit, or sent to recycling.

Let’s explore the different eCommerce fulfillment models.

What Are the Different eCommerce Fulfillment Models?

Here are some eFulfillment services your business can choose from:

  • Self-fulfillment – suits smaller merchants, giving full and direct control over inventory, packaging, and shipping, using platforms like Shopify for support.
  • Third-party logistics (3PL) – helps growing businesses by outsourcing warehousing, packing, and delivery to experts for efficiency and cost reduction.
  • Dropshipping – eliminates the need for merchants to hold inventory, with the supplier/manufacturer/distributor shipping directly to customers, making it ideal for minimizing upfront costs.
  • Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) companies like Ware2Go – integrate a network of 3PL services for nationwide reach. This model offers scalable, on-demand warehousing close to customers for faster shipping.

Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Fulfillment Provider?

Your eCommerce fulfillment company would be responsible for one of the most important things to your business’s success. Yes, we’re talking about customer satisfaction.

When you meet or exceed your customers’ expectations with faster delivery times and a seamless experience, they’re more likely to make a subsequent purchase. 

So how do you decide which fulfillment solution is right for you?

Determine if your fulfillment strategy is facing an obstruction, if you’re outgrowing your storage facilities, or if customers are demanding faster shipping.

Seek a provider with industry knowledge and experience with eCommerce businesses, ensuring they can handle your unique needs and offer strategic guidance.

While shipping rates and delivery speeds are important, focus on finding a partner that aligns with your business values and goals. Quality fulfillment leads to happier customers, outweighing mere cost savings.

What Are the Benefits of Third-Party Logistics?

Using a third-party logistics (3PL) partner for your eCommerce business does more than just save transit times and shipping costs. It’s like having a dedicated team of experts who adjust to your business’s ups and downs, giving you the correct warehouse space and support when needed.

This flexibility means you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, like packing boxes and storage space, and can spend more time on big-picture goals. Plus, these partners can get better deals on shipping because they’re aggregating shipping volume across all of their clients.

But here’s where it gets even better with a fourth-party logistics (4PL) provider like Ware2Go. Unlike traditional third-party logistics (3PL) providers that offer limited regional coverage and support, 4PLs operate on a larger scale. 

4PLs like Ware2Go manage a network of 3PLs across the country, providing businesses with a nationwide warehouse network.

Advanced, cloud-based warehouse management systems integrate seamlessly with major eCommerce platforms and ERPs to support this setup. This means you get real-time inventory tracking and other insights into orders across all locations, making your fulfillment process smoother and more efficient.

Plus, by pooling resources from various merchants, 4PLs can secure better rates and service levels, making your expansion into new markets easier and more cost-effective.

Ware2Go, a UPS company, simplifies how products get to your customers by making fast, 1- to 2-day delivery accessible to all kinds of businesses. This means you can scale up without the headaches, offering your customers speedy deliveries.

Ware2Go your network map

Case Study: Going to Market with a Fulfillment Strategy in Place

YBell Fitness (now called TRX training), a high-growth fitness brand, knew it had to prioritize eCommerce fulfillment before launching its online store. Their original go-to-market strategy in the U.S. was centered on large volume sales to gyms and fitness centers, but mandatory gym shutdowns sent them looking for a direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales channel to reach the growing number of consumers looking for home workout equipment.

Today, with the rise of user-friendly eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify, setting up an online store is simpler than ever. However, Mark Livingston, VP of Worldwide Sales at YBell Fitness, knew its new storefront would only be viable with a reliable eCommerce fulfillment service before launch.

 

Mark’s experience in the fitness industry taught him that driving traffic to a site that was unable to meet customer shipping expectations and last-mile carrier tracking would only damage its brand.

eCommerce fulfillment strategy case study

While many merchants may have a laser focus on driving sales, a sales channel that isn’t supported by a fully optimized fulfillment strategy will ultimately lead to poor reviews, a decline in customer trust, and costly returns. 

Ahead, we’ll examine how a holistic, end-to-end approach to your eCommerce strategy — beginning with eCommerce order fulfillment — will contribute to your company’s profitability and longevity.

Video Case Study: 100 Thieves + Ware2Go

The rise of social commerce (the process of selling products directly through social media platforms) has created viral opportunities for many fast-growing brands like 100 Thieves, a lifestyle brand for gaming enthusiasts and professionals. 

They said that before they launched their new energy drink, Juvee, on Twitch, they had to have an eCommerce fulfillment solution in place to meet the demands of their large and enthusiastic online fanbase.

The brand’s launch strategy included partnering with Ware2Go that enabled them to handle high volumes of orders quickly. This setup allowed 100 Thieves to deliver their product within 1 to 2 days to 95% of their customers.

Ware2Go’s flexible services helped 100 Thieves to quickly adapt to consumer preferences through real-time inventory visibility and rapid repackaging and distribution.

This shows how a successful product launch combines strategic surprise, brand-centric product development, and efficient logistics management to create a strong market entry and maintain high customer engagement.

Why Should You Prioritize Fulfillment in Your eCommerce Strategy?

The goal of any eCommerce strategy is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. The more friction points there are between discovery and purchase, the more likely a potential customer is to abandon a purchase.

Many emerging brands pay close attention to these friction points on the front end of their strategy. However, there are many more opportunities for friction during the back end and post-purchase segments of the customer journey.

Inforgraphic showing why one should priortize fulfillment in eCommerce strategy?

Among other touchpoints, the backend and post-purchase are where an eCommerce fulfillment service can make an immediate impact.

How eCommerce Fulfillment Affects Front-End Strategy

Fulfillment and delivery promises can affect conversion rates as early as the product discovery phase. In fact, our 2021 survey revealed that 69% of consumers are more likely to click on an ad that mentions fast, free shipping. 

With the changes to online privacy policies, impression share is going down while the price of those impressions is increasing. That means merchants must find every way they can to make the most of their marketing dollars. Prioritizing fulfillment early in your eCommerce strategy lets you geo-target shoppers with ads highlighting high-converting delivery promises.

Fulfillment Strategy at Checkout

Your cart conversion rate is an important metric for measuring the effectiveness of your website design and overall eCommerce strategy. A high cart abandonment rate indicates that something is happening in the final checkout phase to deter customers from actually making a purchase. 

The culprit is usually one or more of the following:

  • Shipping speed
  • Shipping cost
  • Unexpected charges
  • Insufficient payment options
  • Clumsy or time-consuming user experience

Two of these contributing factors are related to fulfillment. In fact, more than 68% of customers look for shorter shipping speed as the determining factor while placing online orders. Also, Statista found that 41% of buyers expected their products to arrive in 24 hours. 

This shows how offering customers a speedy shipping option isn’t just a nice-to-have but a necessity.

The Post Checkout Experience and eCommerce Fulfillment

Offering 1- to 2-day shipping will draw customers in, but delivering on that promise will build invaluable brand equity. Satisfied first-time buyers become lifetime customers who leave positive online reviews, recommend your products to their friends, and spend more money on subsequent purchases.

The delivery experience is also your customer’s first in-person experience with your brand. A lackluster delivery experience can make a poor first impression and may even lead to an increase in returns. 

tips for streamlining order fulfillment

Consumer Delivery Preferences for eCommerce Fulfillment in 2024

Today’s consumers have come to expect reliable 1- to 2-day shipping from growing businesses of all sizes. However, a report on eCommerce delivery preferences in 2023 revealed 90% of consumers are willing to forego same-day or 2-day shipping for other options, such as:

  • Free shipping (70%)
  • Real-time tracking (43%)
  • Ability to choose a delivery date (31%)
  • In-store pickup (27%)
  • Consolidated shipments (24%)

ecommerce shoppers facts

See the full statistics on eCommerce customer delivery preferences here.

Video Case Study: EC4Kids and Ware2Go eCommerce Fulfillment Services

Children’s toy and furniture merchant ECR4Kids needed an eCommerce fulfillment solution that could grow with their business. They found that Ware2Go’s transparent pricing and easy-to-use technology platform simplified their existing fulfillment process and could easily be scaled up or down as needed.

FAQ section 

What Is Fulfillment in eCommerce?

Fulfillment by an eCommerce company involves getting an online order from the website to the buyer’s doorstep. Once a customer clicks ‘buy,’ the process of picking, packing, and shipping the item begins so it can arrive safely at their home.

How Do You Fulfill an Order?

After someone orders from your online store, you (or a team you work with) find the product in your warehouse, pack it up securely, and ship it to the customer’s address. You can also use an eCommerce fulfillment services provider to do everything for you.

What Is an Example of Order Fulfillment?

Imagine a buyer who orders a backpack from an online store. The store then finds the backpack in their inventory, puts it in a box, adds a shipping label, and sends it off with a delivery service to reach you.

Your eCommerce Strategy and a Complete Fulfillment Service

An effective eCommerce fulfillment services strategy requires looking beyond the front-end sales and marketing functions and spending an equal amount of time and energy on optimizing the after-the-click experience. While effective sales and marketing efforts will drive customers to your site, a simple and efficient checkout and fulfillment process ultimately drives purchases and converts shoppers to loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

Ware2Go is an outsourced eCommerce fulfillment service that provides a fully flexible and scalable solution to enable eCommerce sellers of all sizes to meet customer expectations for delivery without sacrificing their bottom line.

Ware2Go’s technology-first approach to fulfillment allows emerging brands to connect all of their sales channels through a single platform, making inventory management, order management, and status reporting simple and low-touch.

Connect with us to learn how we can help you reach customers sooner with our guaranteed 2-day delivery.

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