E-commerce Fulfillment: 5 Best Strategies to Fulfill Online Orders

For e-commerce business owners, fulfilling online orders is easier said than done. Nonetheless, order fulfillment is a crucial part of your e-commerce business.

In fact, 53% of shoppers say that the speed of delivery is one factor they consider when purchasing a product online.

That said, you have to understand that order fulfillment can have an impact on your business’ bottom line.


Methods of Order Fulfillment

Depending on your business model, there are three methods that you can implement:


In-house Fulfillment

Also known as direct fulfillment, in-house fulfillment is where you fill the orders yourself. Meaning, when someone orders an item on your online store, you will be the one who will pick it up from your inventory, pack it, and then ship it for delivery.

This is ideal for smaller and home businesses, as it allows you to have total control over your order fulfillment operations. Not to mention that you can add a personal touch to it.

However, one of the drawbacks of in-house fulfillment is that you will tend to consume more time and effort. Not to mention that you will need a storage area for all of your items.



Dropshipping is an order fulfillment process wherein the vendor or manufacturer itself will ship the product for you.

To give you an overview, here is how dropshipping occurs:

  1. The buyer will purchase the item on your e-commerce site.
  2. Either you or a system on your online store will forward the order to the manufacturer.
  3. The manufacturer will pull out the item, pack, and deliver it to your customer.

You can opt for dropshipping if you do not want to own any inventory. That way, you can focus more on marketing your products and earning revenue.


Outsourced or 3PL

Another order fulfillment method you can use is 3PL or third-party logistics. Meaning, you will outsource the operation to a third-party provider (e.g. a shipping company).

While you will be responsible for the purchase and production of the items, your outsourced logistics partner will pick it up, store it in their warehouse, pack it, and then ship it. 

Just like with dropshipping, outsourcing your order fulfillment allows you to devote more time to other parts of your business. Not to mention the reduced costs in storing, packaging, and shipping your products.

However, you cannot control how your products are shipped and packaged. Thus, you’ll need to be in close communication with your 3PL provider.


How to Fulfill Online Orders

Now that we have the order fulfillment methods out of the way, here are five tips on how you can do well with fulfilling orders online:


1. Know That Order Fulfillment is Crucial

Zappos is known for its strong passion for customer service ? its commitment to delivering customer service that “wow!” In fact, this is what makes Zappos stand out from the competition.

You can be the same by creating a robust customer service plan. Simply put, prioritized customer support more than being just another online business.

Here’s the thing: If you want your small business to grow, you will need all the love that you can get from your customers. Thus, you cannot afford to have delays in shipping out products.

That said, you need to figure out ways on how you can speed up your order fulfillment service. Doing so can set your business up for order fulfillment excellence and success.


2. Offer Shipping Options

Customers would opt to buy products online because of the convenience that e-commerce can provide. Do not hinder it by offering limited shipment options.

As Adam Robinson, Marketing Manager of Cerasis, points out, “Consumers want to see more than the standard shipping options. Even if your company is able to offer free shipping and next-day delivery, consumers may want to have the luxury of picking up an item in-store or having it delivered to a third-party location.”

In fact, Amazon and Walmart have adopted some of these options. Aside from providing variety, doing so allows you to accommodate a larger percentage of your target market.


3. Make Sure Every Order is Accurate

Other than the duration of shipment, order accuracy can make or break the success of your e-commerce business.

Here are some quick tips that you can do to increase order accuracy in your online business:

  • Designate an employee or two as checkers. They will be the ones responsible for verifying the accuracy of every order.
  • Add tracking functionality to your CRM. The tracking function enables your CRM software to track order accuracy issues. Thus, you can identify SKUs with persistent fulfillment issues.

Whether you use specialized software, automate your order fulfillment process, or do it manually, you need to make sure that you are shipping out the right items to the right customers.


4. Make a Simple Return Policy

Back in 2012, comScore conducted a survey of 3,100 online shoppers in the US. According to the survey, 63% of the respondents are looking for an online store’s return policy before making a purchase. In addition, 50% of customers who would like to return a product will visit your website to look for your return policy.

That said, it is important that you have an easy-to-find return policy on your online store. While this could mean revenue loss, a clear return policy can increase the chance of your business being recommended to other online shoppers.

After all, it is part of the customer experience that your business provides. And when you provide an excellent CX, this can lead to positive reviews and repeat customers.

The simple return policy will not just improve customer experience, it can also reduce the number of inbound calls to your customer service.


5. Notify Your Customers

Do you know what makes Amazon a popular online retailer? It is because of their customer notification system.

You will get a notification when your order has been received when it is scheduled for shipment, when it’s out for delivery, when it is expected to arrive, and when it arrives.

Sure, that sounds a lot, but it is better than not hearing from your retailer. And if you would like to incorporate this feature with your e-commerce business, Scott Bolduc of SPS Commerce has a succinct post about carrier integration.

With the e-commerce industry growing continuously, it is more important than ever that you keep on improving your order fulfillment process. Doing so could lead to repeat customers, more referrals, and an increase in revenue.