A fulfillment center is a warehouse-like facility that handles all aspects of ecommerce orders for businesses. This process includes storing inventory, picking and packing orders, packaging and shipping to customers, and managing return and exchanges. Fulfillment centers allow online sellers to outsource their warehousing and shipping operations, which can be helpful for small or medium-sized retailers that do not have the physical space to store their inventory.
Inside the Fulfillment Center: A Comprehensive Guide to Operations and Efficiency
The best fulfillment companies will provide direct integration with ecommerce platforms for order management. Using this direct connection makes it easy for online shoppers to send orders directly to the fulfillment partner. This saves time and reduces errors.
In addition to connecting with ecommerce platforms, the best 3PLs will also have bespoke fulfillment software that allows them to optimize picking/packing. This can include things like identifying patterns of popular SKUs, locating them in the same area of the facility to maximize efficiency and reduce travel time for workers, or using machine learning to determine which SKUs should be stocked at each fulfillment center based on sales, days on hand, and seasonal trends.
In addition to reducing operational headaches, working with a fulfillment partner can lower your shipping rates and grow your bottom line. Most fulfillment services work closely with major carriers to get the best prices on both domestic and international shipping. This can help your business compete with larger, more established competitors and attract new customers. Additionally, many fulfillment companies can handle returns and exchanges, freeing up your internal team to focus on strategic activities.