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Order Fulfillment - Getting Products to Customers

17 March, 2015

Order Fulfillment is a term used in the warehousing industry to represent the warehouse ‘fulfilling’ its responsibility to ship a product from their inventory to a customer who has ordered it. The word fulfillment is typically used to distinguish the difference between a product being sent from a retailer as compared to a service being provided by a warehousing company that stores products, picks the orders, packages the products, and ships them to consumers on behalf of other companies.

The value of this service is that it opens up an alternative to smaller businesses that don’t have the space to store large amounts of inventory, or the infrastructure in place to ship the products. The option is available to hire a warehousing and fulfilment company to manage those operations for them. All of their inventory is sent to a warehouse, where it is received and then stored until orders are made by consumers requesting those products. The warehouse staff will then pick the products from the shelves, pack them in the appropriate packaging, and label them with the destination information and tracking codes to prepare them for shipping. Depending on whether the packages are being shipped locally or internationally, they may be transported via truck, air cargo, train, or ocean freight.

All of the logistics are taken care of by the warehousing and fulfillment company, so that the businesses that are hiring them for these services can focus their energy and attention on running their business rather than spending time managing the storing and shipping of their products. Instead, they can concentrate on marketing, sales, customer acquisition, customer service, product development, business strategies, and other areas that support the growth and profitability of the company.


The benefits of an order fulfillment company

The order fulfillment process involves many tasks that are shared between several departments that seamlessly work together to make it all happen. It is of great benefit to some businesses to have all of these tasks taken care of for them in a more cost effective and efficient manner than they could manage on their own.

Storage and warehousing

A big benefit of hiring an order fulfillment company is that they will have the available space to store massive amounts of inventory. Another advantage is that many order fulfillment facilities will have temperature controlled rooms to accommodate products that need to be either refrigerated, frozen, or stored in warmer temperatures.

Inventory Control

An A-list order fulfillment company will typically maintain a count of inventory which is updated as products are shipped. Advanced warehouse management software is used to account for inventory numbers and generate reports to track activity.

Picking and packing services

When orders come in from customers who are purchasing the products, the staff at the fulfillment company will pick the items from storage, pack them up, and prepare them for shipping. This is the ‘Pick and Pack’ step of the fulfillment process.

Shipping

The final step after the packages have been labeled, is to ship them out to the customers. Prior to being loaded into trucks, order sheets are verified, detailed labels are applied to the packages, and along the way while the shipment is in transit barcode readers and tracking systems are used to identify the whereabouts of the delivery each step of the way.