Order Fulfillment in Modern Retail: What it is and How to Make it Efficient


Order Fulfillment in Modern Retail: What it is and How to Make it Efficient

Have you ever wondered how a product, you order online, reaches your doorsteps in a few days (sometimes even on the same or the next day)? Well, online shopping might seem like a cakewalk to consumers, but there are a plethora of processes that run behind to make that product available and delivered to your location. All these processes falls under the last mile delivery of the logistics system.

What is order fulfillment?

For an e-retailer or online store, the process of receiving an order, preparing it for dispatch, and delivering it to the customer’s location is known as order fulfillment. 

Different Order Fulfillment Models 

Now when you know what processes falls under the order fulfillment umbrella, let’s check out different strategies for it- 

  • In-house or self-fulfillment strategy

Having an in-house logistics team to look after your delivery or fulfillment operations is a great choice for local businesses. It gives you complete control over the order handling, shipping, returns, and other processes involved. But this self-fulfillment model requires investing in resources and infrastructure. Besides, you also need big teams to manage inventory, distribution, warehouses, and delivery. 

  • 3PL fulfillment strategy

Choosing a third-party logistics service provider is the most viable option for businesses with a huge customer base. It is also perfect for those serving in multiple regions. Having a 3PL provider means you don’t need to take care of inventory, warehouse, fleet, and other important delivery aspects. Moreover, you can also relieve yourself from the hassle of hiring and managing delivery teams. 

  • Partial 3PL fulfillment strategies

Businesses that like to have complete control over warehouse and inventory management generally choose this model. It is also a perfect choice for those who want to expand their horizon without further investment in resources and infrastructure. 

4 Key Processes for Efficient Order Fulfillment

To ensure timely and cost-controlled delivery of orders, e-commerce businesses have to take care of-

  • Inventory management 

Proper inventory management makes sure that you have sufficient inventory to fulfill the demands of your customers. Having extra inventory in the warehouse or distribution centers is helpful in sale seasons or when you receive a large volume of orders. 

  • Packaging and Pick up

Once you receive the order, the next step is packing the products and dispatching it. Now, packaging the product using the right material is important to ensure its safety. After packaging the next step is order pickup; the pickup must be done within the defined time. 

  • Last-mile delivery 

The last mile deals with the final movement of a product from the warehouse or final hub to the customer’s place. If you have an in-house logistics team, then the team will take care of the delivery. On the other hand, if you have opted-in for a third-party logistics service provider or 3PL provider, then they will deliver the product. 

  • Returns management 

The ultimate motive of order fulfillment is not just delivering the product to the customer, but it also includes offering them a smooth return and refund. Return management completely depends on the method of your order fulfillment. 
No matter which type of order fulfillment model you choose, it is important to automate processes for timely and cost-controlled deliveries. You can achieve this goal by integrating last mile delivery software. The former will help you in case of an in-house or self-fulfillment model while the latter is suitable if you have hired one or multiple third-party logistics partners to look after your order deliveries.


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