How Does Order Fulfillment Work?

Learn the order fulfillment steps from the manufacturer to the end customer

Let’s start by getting an understanding of what ecommerce order fulfillment is.  

Here is an easy-to-understand Order fulfillment definition: Order fulfillment is the steps involved in receiving, processing and delivering orders to end customers. 

But what exactly does ecommerce order fulfillment entail? How do the orders get from the manufacturer to the end customer to ensure that customer expectations are met? How do thirdparty logistics providers control shipping cost and inventory storage? 

The order fulfillment process might seem like a mystery, but it doesn’t have to be.

The order ecommerce fulfillment process is as follows:

1. Products are ordered and purchased in bulk from a wholesale or manufacturing company.

2. Products are then shipped and delivered to a 3PL ecommerce fulfillment warehouse.

  • The product is received by the ecommerce fulfillment warehouse and checked into the thirdparty logistics warehouse stock using the warehouse management software.
  • The thirdparty fulfillment must physically have the inventory in order to start fulfilling orders.

3. 3PL providers have their own processes for receiving inventory and storing inventory, often involving specific merchant documentation.  This allows the 3PL company to stay organized and timely with its operational processes, so that orders ship sooner.

4. Fulfillment companyies place and store the product on warehouse shelves.

5. Ecommerce sellers list the products to sell online through multiple sales channels.  Online shopping sites are designed to minimize shopping cart abandonment.

6. Customers place orders and pay for the product online and select their preferred shipping options after reviewing shipping rates provided by the seller.

7. The online store relays the order to the third party logistics fulfillment provider (3PL).

8. The 3PL Fulfillment partner then picks, packs and ships the order to the customer.

  • When an order is pushed to a 3PL’s order fulfillment system, it is assigned to the picking team. The picking team receives a packing slip with the items, quantities, and storage locations at the warehouse or fulfillment facility then collects the ordered products from their respective locations.
  • Once all items in an order have been picked and packed, warehouse workers pack boxes using packing supplies at packing stations and prepare for product shipping to the customer using a preferred ship method or post office.

9. A delivery company picks up the orders from the fulfillment centers and transports the packages to their destinations.

10. The order arrives at the customer’s door and the fulfillment process is complete.

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5.  Executive-level attention and oversight

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