In this ever-growing age of technology, the need for advanced fulfillment services is becoming more and more of a necessity for businesses that have products that have to be shipped to their customers.
The need for fulfillment can be from a variance of business types from clothing to vitamins. Every establishment that depends on selling and delivering products has to have some sort of fulfillment tactics in place, or business would not work in a successful manner.
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What is Fulfillment?
When a person walks into a grocery store, grabs a cart, and goes on about their shopping experience they are, in fact, carrying out an act of fulfillment.
Before going to the store the shopper probably:
- Checks the inventory of supplies
- Writes down a list of what is needed
- Wisely chooses what on the list is necessary
- Ventures to the store to fulfill the list
When it comes to the business world, it is a little different. The customer will use whatever method works best for them whether it be by phone, computer, or mail-in. Depending on the nature of the order and the availability of the items the company will use various methods to obtain the items of the list, then take action towards getting the list of items to the customer.
For example, if you have a company that sells sports equipment, there are several ways a customer could make an order. One way is if you had a physical store they could visit and purchase items in person.
One of the more popular ways people order these days is through the use of a smartphone, or a computer. The customer will go online and make orders through either an app or a website. Since there are powerful technology platforms that can make ordering simple and easy most of the customers will have already made their order and paid for the items online.
The act of getting that order from the physical location of its whereabouts to the customer that has ordered it is what is primarily called fulfillment.
- A customer orders an item
- The item is located and shipped
- The process has been fulfilled
Fulfillment is simply delivering the goods that have been ordered in a timely and safe manner.
Types of Fulfillment Needs
Although the definition of fulfillment is pretty simple, the needs of a fulfillment endeavor can be extremely complex and yield a plethora of variables. Since the internet is a worldwide entity anybody can order just about anything anywhere.
There are millions of online stores that sell countless items. On one end of the spectrum, people sell items such as cosmetics and beauty products. On the other end of the spectrum, people sell items such as cars, trucks, and boats.
All in all most of the items that are bought and shipped in the United States are goods that weigh between an ounce and 100 pounds.
The warehouse needs for different types of goods can be from small and reasonable to extremely large and vast. Although the size of the items that a business sells is relevant, the number of the items that are sent is an altogether different story.
A fulfillment service will provide warehouse storage and services that can accommodate most any business type there is. In the event that a company with a large volume of orders such as a distributor of goods, the need for pallets, forklifts, storage racks, and other items will be necessary to conduct business. Along with a qualified team of professionals that can handle the work as it comes.
Shipping and Receiving
Sometimes online businesses can grow to the point of seemingly impossible sizes. Take a look at Amazon, for example. When it comes to handling the high demands of customer orders that can take place when there are millions of items available to sell, there is a need for storage, shipping, and receiving.
The shipping aspect of the function will be used mainly for the fulfillment of sales to customers, but it also may be used for fulfilling larger orders to distributors of the goods that are separate from the business.
Receiving, on the other hand, is when the company receives goods that will be stocked and put for sale. Each company will have its own way of identifying the goods that come in and placing them in designated areas where they will be available for picking and shipping when the time comes.
When it comes to the fulfillment of an order there are many factors that have to be considered in order to ensure that the transaction is smooth and without error. In most cases, a powerful software platform is used to keep track of the transactions.
One aspect of a fulfillment service provider is to facilitate a shipping and receiving department that is customized for the activities of the business.
Pick and Pack
For businesses with heavy demand, there is a constant need for workers to locate items within the warehouse or other storage facility and process them for shipping. For example, a warehouse that distributes electronics parts will have literally thousands of parts that could be needed at any part of any day.
If there are hundreds of orders at one time that are going to all different destinations the process of getting the orders fulfilled can be a bit daunting.
Of course, any wise business person will create a system that will keep all of the steps organized and neat, but not without diligent work.
Some companies will not have to worry about immediate fulfillment, however, some companies will be required to have the necessary items in stock and ready to ship at any time.
Fulfillment services that provide pick and pack systems will take care of locating the needed items, packing them, and shipping them out to where they need to go. A high-quality fulfillment service will act as if they are employees of the company and treat the customers as if they were their own.
Storage of Goods
Any business that sells goods that need to be shipped out to customers has to have a place to store the goods that are being sold. In many cases, a full-fledged warehouse is needed to hold all of the property, in other instances a simple garage will do.
In terms of a fulfillment service provider, in most cases, a place to store the goods will be included in the package. However, due to the large variety of circumstances that will surround each business needs not all services will be alike.
Variables to consider when storing goods are:
- The value of the goods
- The safety of the type of goods
- The size of the goods
- The conditions that the goods can be stored in
When there are goods that are of high value such as jewelry, or drugs the factor of insurance coverage will come into play.
If the goods that are being stored are considered dangerous there can be some drawbacks as well. For instance, if the facility is storing fireworks or butane gasses there will have to be further safety implementations to consider.
If the goods are excessively large and need a huge amount of space to accommodate them, there might be a few issues.
Furthermore, the care that the goods must have in order to be safely stored will matter. You can’t store items that need to be refrigerated or kept warmer than room temperature in a standard warehouse.
Each and every business will have its own needs, and a fulfillment service provider will be able to strategically accommodate every business in contrast to its individual needs.
Why Fulfillment Services?
The costs to obtain warehouses, employees, tools, supplies, software, and so on can become increasingly unaffordable. Between insurance, fully burdened employees, stock, and other costs it is almost impossible for a smaller business to make money. Hiring a company to handle the fulfillment aspect of the business is a way to have a whole team and all of the required materials to successfully do business. All of these costs can be for one flat affordable rate as opposed to multiple costs that add up to millions – not to mention the risks of injury and other problems from staff.
Fulfillment services make it possible for a small company with big demands to compete with larger companies without the extra costs.