For ecommerce companies, handling order fulfillment operations is a highly complex task. Every day, ecommerce businesses have to simultaneously juggle numerous orders of various SKUs across multiple channels and locations around the globe.
But getting order fulfillment right is absolutely critical to ensuring ongoing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Recent research revealed that customers value fast and reliable delivery as the most important attribute of their online shopping experience.
Given that order fulfillment is so complex and critical, it’s surprising to see that so many ecommerce businesses still rely on time-consuming manual processes to handle their order fulfillment. A recent study showed that 55% of companies still use manual “pen-and-paper” procedures to manage their omnichannel logistics.
A growing number of ecommerce companies, however, are looking to improve the efficiency of their order fulfillment process.
We’ve found that there are two key tactics that can help your business dramatically improve your order fulfillment:
- Engaging third-party logistics (3PL) providers to manage your supply chain operations including order fulfillment. With a best-in-class 3PL provider like Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF), for example, you can delight your customers by offering delivery speeds as fast as one day and an on-time delivery rate of greater than 97%.
- Employing cutting-edge ecommerce integrations to automate and optimize the order fulfillment process. These integrations can reduce manual effort and enable you to automatically connect and synchronize your order management, inventory management, and order fulfillment systems. No matter if you outsource your order fulfillment to a 3PL or handle it yourself, you can use ecommerce integrations to streamline and simplify your order fulfillment operations.
In this guide, we will delve into the topic of ecommerce integrations for order fulfillment. We will:
- Explain the different types of integrations that ecommerce companies use to automate their order fulfillment process with their 3PL,
- Highlight the benefits of using these integrations, and
- Provide advice on how you can choose the right ecommerce integrations for your business.
Broadly speaking, ecommerce integrations are software applications that connect your ecommerce website and other ecommerce marketplaces that you sell on with the back-end systems that you use to manage various areas of your online business including sales, CRM, inventory management, order management, and order fulfillment. According to Gartner, a typical ecommerce experience today consists of more than 30 integrated systems.
Ecommerce integrations serve as a bridge between the ecommerce sales channels that you use and your numerous back-end systems, enabling you to integrate, automate, and optimize your business operations.
When it comes to order fulfillment, ecommerce integrations can connect your 3PL provider’s back-end systems with:
- The ecommerce system on your direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce website: Most ecommerce websites today are powered by software systems designed by ecommerce solution providers such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Adobe Commerce (Magento), Wix, and WooCommerce. The systems produced by these ecommerce solution providers serve as the backbone of your DTC website – performing a wide range of functions including managing your catalog and listings, enabling catalog sorting, cart, checkout, customer notification functionality, and routing orders to order fulfillment systems. The aim of these systems is to deliver a seamless experience for shoppers on your website, so that you can increase conversions and revenue growth.
- The ecommerce marketplaces and social media stores that you use: Many ecommerce business today sell across multiple online sales channels including ecommerce marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy and social media stores on Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. In many cases, sellers route their social commerce shoppers to their website for checkout.
By using ecommerce integrations to connect your ecommerce website and marketplaces, you can ensure the fulfillment process runs smoothly and swiftly from online checkout to your customer’s doorstep.
Most 3PLs provide various types of ecommerce integrations that you can use to connect their order fulfillment system to the ecommerce websites and marketplaces that you are using.
MCF, for example, offers four ways to integrate with its systems:
Utilizing ecommerce integrations to automate your order fulfillment process can deliver a number of business benefits including:
Reduced manual effort: By employing ecommerce integrations, you can minimize the amount of manual effort required to handle your order fulfillment operations. Instead of having to painstakingly, manually enter every order you receive into your 3PL’s order fulfillment system and then monitor it, you can automate this process. This will save a lot of time for you and your team – freeing you up to focus on those areas of the business that matter most to you such as sales and product development.
- Improved operational efficiency: With ecommerce integrations, you can streamline the order fulfillment process by automatically creating inbound and outbound shipments with your 3PL, syncing inventory across different sales channels, and tracking orders in real-time. This improved efficiency ultimately results in faster and more reliable delivery performance, reduced out-of-stock rates, and greater customer satisfaction and retention.
Greater multi-channel sales growth: Ecommerce integrations make it easy for you to set up and integrate sales operations on multiple online channels including your DTC website, various ecommerce marketplaces, and social media stores. With these integrations, you can automatically align your orders and inventory across various sales channels (so that you can successfully manage and grow your multi-channel business), and easily expand to new sales channels.
- Increase sales conversion rate: According to the Baymard Institute, 22% of online shoppers abandon their carts during checkout because the delivery was too slow. With ecommerce integrations, you can leverage your 3PL’s order-promising capabilities to make accurate delivery estimates to shoppers at checkout. And if your 3PL – like MCF – is able to offer shipping speeds as fast as one day and real-time delivery estimates at checkout, you can make delivery promises to shoppers that will increase your conversion rate and reduce cart abandonment.
Now that you know about the different types of ecommerce integrations for order fulfillment and understand the benefits of using these applications, you may be wondering – with so many different ecommerce integrations available today – how you can choose the right ones for your business.
Here are a few questions you should ask to help you select the right ecommerce integrations:
You should have a discussion with your 3PL so that they can tell you about the integrations that are available and advise on which would be the best fit for your business needs and systems requirements.
By enabling you to connect, streamline, and synchronize your back-end systems, ecommerce integrations can revolutionize your online business – driving greater automation, operational efficiency, multi-channel sales growth, and customer experience.
Online customers today demand a seamless shopping experience from online checkout to delivery on their doorstep. And, with the right ecommerce integrations in place, you can provide exactly that.