What Is Fulfilment?

The Codestorm team have been helping businesses make the most out of their e-commerce fulfilment since 2014, so it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about it. From confectionary to beverages, vitamins to CBD products, and a wealth of other product types: we’ve fulfilled orders of all types, orders of all sizes, day-in, day-out! We believe that the key to finding the best fulfilment partner for your business starts with the basics, which is why we’re tackling the topic of fulfilment itself. But what precisely is fulfilment? What does fulfilment mean? And what does the process look like?

Fulfilment or Fulfillment?

Is there a difference between ‘fulfilment’ and ‘fulfillment’? Essentially, no – they each mean the same thing, albeit with different spellings. The former, ‘fulfilment’, is the British spelling with a total or two l’s, whereas the latter ‘fulfillment’ is the American spelling with a total of 3 l’s. Neither option is incorrect, but we do advise altering your use of ‘fulfil’ vs ‘fulfill’ depending on where your customers and clients are located. Because Codestorm are a UK-based fulfilment company, we’ll be using ‘fulfilment’.

Now we’ve determined how to spell fulfilment, how do you define fulfilment? According to Law Insider, ‘fulfilment’ is far more than just getting orders from storage to customer. It involves picking, packing and preparing items for shipping, followed by shipping items and, if necessary, processing subsequent returns. It’s a far more complex operation than you’d initially assume!

What Is Order Fulfilment?

In short, order fulfilment is all about getting your products to your customers. More specifically, order fulfilment refers to the process that occurs after your customer has submitted their order to your business. Once you have received an order, the fulfilment process begins, which sees each product carefully picked, packed and distributed to the designated delivery address. Once the order has been accepted by the purchaser, the fulfilment process is complete.

How Does Order Fulfilment Work?

We’re all familiar with ordering products on line or via mail order from any number of e-commerce brands but we probably don’t think about it as “order fulfilment” rather online shopping or in some cases the infamous retail therapy. So, if you’re considering a move away from in house fulfilment, frustrated with your existing fulfilment partner or just curious about what happens behind the scenes, Codestorm’s expert fulfilment team are here to help you. The order fulfilment process sounds simple on paper, but must be carried out carefully or risk the wrong items being delivered, or damage to a parcel’s contents. That’s why order fulfilment centres follow specific procedures to quickly, accurately and safely get orders into the hands of customers.

What Does Order Fulfilment Include?

As your business grows, your needs will change. The number of orders you’ll receive will inflate. Your SKU’s order fulfilment will get more complicated. You’ll need greater space for inventory. You’ll probably find yourself without the time to focus on new projects or product development because you’re so preoccupied with order fulfilment. When this happens, there’s one clear solution – electing a fulfilment partner like Codestorm to tackle the hard graft on your behalf so you can focus on growing your business sustainably. But how does a fulfilment centre operate? In brief, there are three stages to order fulfilment with a partner such as Codestorm – stocking items, picking and packing, and shipping.

Stocking Your Items

Firstly, a fulfilment centre will need to hold stock to distribute to your customers, this could be on your site or with an outsourced fulfilment provider. All of these goods are held within custom warehouses and are carefully categorised and organised to be located and picked when ready for shipping. Inventory quantities are carefully monitored to ensure that items running low on stock are replenished in time, ensuring that customers can receive their orders within the allotted time frame to avoid delay and disappointment. In an ideal world, businesses should ensure that their items are adequately stocked in their fulfilment warehouse to mitigate customer disappointment.

Picking And Packing

Secondly, the fulfilment centre will receive a notification that an order has been placed and is ready to be fulfilled. Staff members will carefully obtain the items requested by the customer and amend stock levels as appropriate. Then, the items are ready to be packed.

Each order is carefully packed in the appropriate box, envelope or bag to ensure that each item is safe, secure, and will not encounter damage on its way to the customer’s front door. The correct box size is specified by the client at the start of the project. A particularly thorough fulfilment partner such as Codestorm will assist you in procuring the best packaging for your items. It is the responsibility of the client to specify the box to be used for packing – your fulfilment partner will follow these instructions and specifications. However, choosing the most appropriate box size for each order can have a huge impact on your costs. After all, shipping a single bottle of wine in a huge box isn’t going to be cost effective to ship – the dimensions of the box far exceed the size of the item, and the weight of the box could push shipping costs up to a more expensive threshold. Each parcel is secured with tape or glue before being adorned with the appropriate shipping label. Now, the items are ready to ship!

Order Shipping

If you choose to partner with an e-commerce fulfilment company such as Codestorm, you can expect your fulfilment warehouses will have regular, scheduled pick-up from carriers such as such as Royal Mail, TDG, Yodel, DPD and Hived who come directly to the warehouse to collect orders for distribution. With these types of partnerships, you can also expect to receive impressive rates, as many fulfilment companies have long-standing relationships with delivery businesses this will enable them to negotiate rates that reflect their level of business, Now, the parcel is out for delivery, and the courier will send out an order tracking number to the customer and fulfilment warehouse to ensure that all parties have transparency over the status of their order. Be sure to ask your chosen fulfilment partner about the benefits and visibility they provide you and your customers with after items have left their warehouse. For example, at Codestorm we provide order visibility via our LINK platform. This could be the difference between a ‘good’ and ‘great’ customer experience that keeps your customers coming back time and time again.

Types Of Order Fulfilment

In-House Fulfilment

Many businesses choose to fulfil their own orders, which is a great option for smaller businesses that have little inventory. However, as businesses grow, in-house fulfilment can become tricky. Stock levels will increase as order numbers soar, product variation will expand as new items are developed, and the scale of the fulfilment process will simply outgrow you. At this point, some businesses will obtain their own warehouse space, especially up and coming retailers and clothing brands. However, this is an additional cost and complication that can be hard to keep on top of, especially when your business is growing at a rapid pace. This is why many companies choose to outsource their fulfilment procedure to a third-party fulfilment warehouse such as Codestorm.

Third-Party Fulfilment

Third-party fulfilment allows growing businesses to outsource their processes to a provider such as Codestorm. With large-scale warehouses, experienced staff members and valuable connections with shipping partners, fulfilment centres can be an invaluable asset to businesses looking to take the hassle out of their day to day business. This is also a great option if your time is being consumed by other aspects such as recruitment, product development and growth strategy. A third-party fulfilment partner can help you by removing the hassle of picking, packing and delivering orders so you can focus on more pressing issues that can propel your business to new heights.

Many partners will provide businesses with access to digitised order tracking, inventory notifications and real-time data to keep you updated with the minutia of your fulfilment. This is important for business managers who worry that outsourcing their fulfilment means relinquishing control and visibility over each order. With Codestorm’s LINK technology, it’s quite the opposite: we provide our partners with even more transparency on their orders and allow our partner companies complete control over every order up to the point where the orders are picked. It’s fully-integrated, bespoke and tailored to your needs – it truly is your secret weapon for business excellence.

Enjoy The Best Order Fulfilment With Codestorm

Now we’ve explored the ins and outs, let’s get down to what really matters – expert fulfilment that gets your products to your customers on time every time. With LINK from Codestorm, your team have live visibility of orders and your costs are as low as possible. You’ll be able to stay on top of each and every order our team of warehouse staff pick, pack and distribute. We’ll even give you insights into better postage options, keep you updated with returns, and be with you every step of the way to perfect your packaging.

With years of experience in providing first-class customer service, Codestorm are proud to be one of the UK’s leading and rapidly growing e-commerce fulfilment companies. We are trusted by huge brands such as Tribe, Tarquin’s Gin and Candy Kittens to support their businesses in distributing their orders. We work with you to create a strategy that suits your business and can recommend the quickest, most cost-efficient ways to achieve your goals. If you’re looking for an e-commerce fulfilment partner to help you take your business to the next level, contact the Codestorm team below – we can’t wait to hear from you!

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