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What is E-Fulfillment?

smiling woman receives a package

What is eCommerce Fulfillment?

With more than 26.5 million eCommerce websites worldwide, eCommerce is booming. Platforms like Shopify have made it easier than ever to start an online store, and with more consumers turning to the web for their purchases, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

In a crowded market, having a standout website and excellent product range isn't enough. Your eCommerce business needs to excel in every aspect, especially fulfillment. Ensuring that customers receive their online orders quickly and correctly leads to higher satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business, which are crucial for your success.

In this guide, we will explain what eCommerce fulfillment entails and compare managing this process yourself to outsourcing it to professional 3PL eCommerce fulfillment providers. Understanding these options will help you make informed decisions to optimize your fulfillment strategy.

What is E-Fulfillment?

E-fulfillment, or eCommerce fulfillment, is the process of receiving, processing, and delivering online orders to customers. It involves storing and managing inventory, picking and packing items, and facilitating any product returns. You can choose to handle this process in-house or partner with a third-party eCommerce fulfillment center.

What is 3PL eCommerce Fulfillment?

Third-party logistics (3PL) eCommerce fulfillment involves outsourcing your order fulfillment process to an external service provider. This provider will oversee the warehousing, inventory management, picking, packing, and shipping of your products. Using 3PL eCommerce fulfillment services allows you to leverage their expertise and infrastructure, ensuring efficient and accurate order delivery.

eCommerce Fulfillment Process

Whether you are running a large eCommerce enterprise or a small online store, you will need to have an established fulfillment process. This process will need to follow these steps to ensure you can send customers’ orders efficiently.


Receiving is the first step in the eCommerce fulfillment process, which involves accepting incoming stock from suppliers or manufacturers. This is where products are checked for quality, counted, and logged into the inventory management system. Accurate receiving is essential for maintaining inventory accuracy and preventing stock discrepancies.

Efficient receiving processes can speed up the time it takes for products to become available for sale. Using technology like barcode scanners can streamline this process and reduce errors. Having organized receiving areas also contributes to quicker and more accurate processing.


Warehousing involves the storage of products using a combination of shelving, bins, and pallets. Effective warehousing strategies include organized storage systems, regular stock audits, and the use of warehouse management software (WMS). Proper warehousing ensures that products are stored safely and can be retrieved quickly when orders are placed.

Inventory Management

Inventory management involves tracking and controlling stock levels to ensure products are available for order fulfillment. Inventory management systems are used to provide real-time visibility into stock levels and movements. They can automate reorders, generate inventory reports, and support demand forecasting.

Accurate inventory management is essential. You need to perform regular stock audits and cycle counts to ensure that your stock levels can fulfill your customer’s orders. However, you also need to balance storage costs by minimizing excess inventory.

Picking and Packing

Picking and packing are critical steps in the eCommerce fulfillment process. Picking involves retrieving products from storage based on customer orders. Using a pick list generated by the WMS, pickers locate, select, and send the correct products to the packing area.

Packing involves securely packaging products to ensure they arrive in perfect condition. The packers will select appropriate packaging materials to protect the products during transit. They also attach the shipping label, generated by the WMS, to ensure the packages reach the correct destinations.


Shipping is the final step in the eCommerce fulfillment process, involving dispatching orders to customers using various carriers and delivery methods. Efficient shipping processes are essential for meeting delivery timeframes and customer expectations. Real-time tracking and notification systems can also improve the customer experience by keeping them informed about their order status.

Offering multiple shipping options can enhance customer satisfaction by providing flexibility. Selecting the right shipping partners and methods is crucial for optimizing costs and delivery times. For international orders, partnering with reliable carriers and understanding customs regulations can help you expand your reach and effectively serve a global customer base

Returns Processing

Returns processing is an important aspect of eCommerce fulfillment. It involves inspecting returned items, restocking them if they are in sellable condition, and updating inventory records. Utilizing returns management software can streamline this process by automating return authorizations, tracking returned items, and processing refunds or exchanges.

In-House vs. Outsourced E-Fulfillment

As an eCommerce business owner, you will need to decide whether to manage e-fulfillment in-house or outsource it to specialized providers. Each option has  advantages that you will need to consider to make an informed decision that best suits your operational needs and business goals.

In-House E-Fulfillment

In-house e-fulfillment involves managing all aspects of order fulfillment within your own facilities and using your own staff. This option works best for medium to large-sized businesses with the resources to invest in warehousing, technology, and staff. While this choice comes with benefits, it’s important to consider the high costs and logistical challenges that come with internally managing fulfillment.

Greater Control

In-house e-fulfillment allows you to have full control over your inventory and order processing. You can quickly adjust to changes in demand and implement your own quality control measures. This control can result in higher accuracy and better customer satisfaction.


With in-house fulfillment, you can tailor your processes to your specific business needs. This includes personalizing packaging, implementing unique handling procedures, and customizing shipping options. This level of customization can enhance your brand image and customer experience.

eCommerce Fulfillment Services

eCommerce fulfillment services involve outsourcing your order fulfillment processes to a 3PL provider. Whether you’re running a startup or a global enterprise, this is an effective solution for handling your fulfillment processing. By leveraging the capabilities of a 3PL provider, you can enhance your operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

Cost Efficiency

By partnering with a 3PL provider, you avoid the capital expenditure required to set up and maintain fulfillment infrastructure. You can remove warehousing, labor, and technology costs from your expenses, allowing you to invest more into growing your business. 3PL providers also often have established relationships with shipping carriers, passing on savings to your customers and enhancing their satisfaction with your business.


Outsourcing fulfillment allows you to easily scale your operations based on demand. During peak seasons or promotional periods, 3PL providers can handle increased order volumes without requiring additional investment in warehousing or staff. This flexibility helps you maintain service quality even during busy times.

Access to Technology

3PL providers utilize advanced technology to manage your fulfillment processes. With sophisticated warehouse and inventory management systems, they can optimize operations to ensure higher accuracy, faster processing times, and improved inventory control.

Improved Customer Experience

3PL providers often offer multiple shipping options and faster delivery times, enhancing the customer experience. They provide real-time tracking and efficient returns processing, which can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. A reliable fulfillment partner ensures that your customers receive their orders accurately and on time, reflecting positively on your brand.

OPLOG eCommerce Fulfillment

OPLOG is a leading provider of eCommerce fulfillment services. We offer comprehensive solutions tailored to meet your online business’s needs, from international shipping to returns management. Our eCommerce fulfillment centers are equipped with advanced technology, ensuring efficient order processing and real-time inventory management.

Enhance your eCommerce fulfillment operations with our expert services. Get a quote today to learn how we can support your business.



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