Warehousing & Fulfillment

eCommerce Fulfillment: the Complete Guide for Merchants

Warehousing & Fulfillment
January 24, 2023
8 min read

eCommerce fulfillment may be an afterthought for some busy merchants, but the right ecommerce fulfillment strategy can drive sales at the top of the funnel and decrease customer acquisition costs.

What Is eCommerce Fulfillment & Why Does It Matter?

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 orders 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 founded on strong partnerships.

As ecommerce demand continues to rise, customer expectations for fast shipping have remained virtually unchanged. Understanding how these expectations shape consumer preference and drive customer lifetime value will help you see your fulfillment operations as an opportunity to differentiate yourself among your competitors.

Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse

A major benefit to ecommerce is the ability scale quickly. If you can get your product in front of the right customers, sales have the potential to skyrocket overnight. However, without the ability to get your products into the hands of your customers, you run the risk of making poor first impression on new customers — which can sometimes be difficult to recover from.

According to Steve Denton, CEO of Ware2Go (a UPS Company), ecommerce fulfillment is the key to creating experiences that customers love to bring them back for repeat purchases.

Going to Market with a Fulfillment Strategy in Place

YBell Fitness, a high-growth fitness brand, knew that they had to prioritize fulfillment before they launched their ecommerce 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 shut-downs 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 that their new storefront would only be viable if they had a fast and reliable ecommerce fulfillment solution in place before they launched it.

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 their brand.

While many merchants may have laser focus on driving sales, a fully optimized sales channel that is not supported by a fully optimized fulfillment strategy will ultimately lead to poor reviews, eroded 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.

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

How eCommerce Fulfillment Affects Front-End Strategy

Fulfillment and delivery promises can affect conversion rates as early as the product discovery phase. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 69% of consumers are more likely to click on an ad that mentions fast, free shipping. Additionally, findings from Google indicate that fulfillment can contribute significantly to ad performance. Tests of its new Fast & Free shipping annotations resulted in 9% higher overall conversions rates for product listings that advertised 1 to 2-day delivery promises early in the shopping journey.

With recent changes to online privacy policies, impression share is going down, while the price of those impressions is going up. That means merchants need to find every way they can to make the most of their marketing dollars. Prioritizing fulfillment early in your ecommerce strategy enables you to geo-target shoppers with ads that highlight 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, in a recent, 52% of merchants indicated that offering 2-day shipping at checkout increased their cart conversions by up to 25%.

The Post Checkout Experience

Offering 1 to 2-day shipping will draw customers in, but actually 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 the first in-person experience your customer may have with your brand. A lackluster delivery experience can make a poor first impression, and may even lead to an increase in returns. Last holiday season, 33% of consumers actually reported that their reason for returning an ecommerce order was that it took too long to arrive.

Our eCommerce Fulfillment Services

Ware2Go (a UPS Company) is an outsourced fulfillment partner that provides a fully flexible and scalable solution to enable merchants of all sizes to meet customer expectations for delivery without sacrificing their bottom line. Ware2Go’s technology-first approach to fulfillment allows merchants to connect all of their sales channels through a single platform, making inventory management, order management, and status reporting simple and low-touch.

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 not only simplified their existing fulfillment process, but could easily be scaled up or down as needed.

Consumer Expectations

Today’s consumers have come to expect reliable 1 to 2-day shipping from merchants of all sizes. In fact, 37% of survey respondents indicated that they expect small business to actually ship faster than their big box competitors. However, price is also a highly significant factor for most shoppers, and it’s important to know whether your customers prioritize faster or cheaper shipping. Below is a helpful chart that outlines the key factors influencing delivery preferences.

ecommerce fulfillment preferences by age

Your eCommerce Ecosystem

An effective ecommerce 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 is ultimately drives purchases and converts shoppers to loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

To learn more about how Ware2Go can streamline your fulfillment process, check out our solution.

Our Newsletter

Get our latest insights on how to make your supply chain your competitive advantage

1-2 insight per month
Thanks for subscribing!

Join our email list and receive monthly updates, industry insights and curated content. Don't miss out!