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Understanding ecommerce fulfilment and how it works

What is ecommerce fulfilment? 

Ecommerce fulfilment refers to the process of fulfilling online orders and involves the complete process of delivering an order placed online to a customer. When an order is placed online, you must deliver the product within the set time frame and price-point specified.   

What is the need for ecommerce fulfilment?

For any online retailer, ecommerce fulfilment is crucial to success. With consumer demands on the rise, many customers have become accustomed to faster processing and shipping times. Inconsistent or slow fulfilment can hinder getting products to customers on time, causing customers to become dissatisfied with the service provided. This is why it is beneficial to streamline and optimise your order fulfilment chain, in order to keep both online and offline activity in sync.  

Types of ecommerce fulfilment models 

There are many ecommerce fulfilment models to choose from, though there are four common types. These include: 

  • In-house – this model refers to undertaking all fulfilment activities yourself. From inventory management, to picking, packing, shipping and returns.  
  • Dropshipping – this model involves a supplier, wholesaler or manufacturer shipping products directly to your customers. This means no inventory is handled by you physically. 
  • Hybrid – this involves a combination of in-house and dropshipping fulfilment models. Some custom orders may require assembly before shipping which will involve shipping from in-house facilities, whereas non-custom orders are ready to be dispatched via dropshipping. 

How ecommerce fulfilment works 

All ecommerce orders follow a similar process and include the following steps: 


The first step involves receiving the order and inventory. Once the order is placed, you should receive merchandise at your fulfilment centre, warehouse, storage location or place of business.  

Inventory management  

This stage involves managing stock, by keeping a systematic record of all products so that there is enough inventory to meet customer demand or replenish stock when necessary. The best way to do this is by assigning products with an identification code, known as a stock, keep unit code (SKU), and a dedicated storage place to help manage inventory. During peak seasons such as sales periods or seasonal holidays, it is beneficial to have more stock on hand to meet high demands. 

Picking and packing

The picking process consists of locating the correct product at the correct quantity, before packing. Once the order has been selected, it must be adequately packed. The packaging element is an essential aspect in the order fulfilment stage as it reflects the brand and how the customer will receive and perceive the products. At Lesters Logistics, our pick, pack and ship services offer speed, efficiency and accuracy to ensure orders are fulfilled on time and without errors thanks to our pick and pack fulfilment centre. 


Once the products have been packaged correctly, the next stage in the order fulfilment process is the logistics and shipping of orders. This stage is crucial when getting the goods to their destination though a variety of shipping carriers and services, depending on the shipping options available and selected.   

Returns processing

This part of the ecommerce fulfilment process is also known as reverse logistics. Returns are to be expected and are inevitable, so efficient handling can help to speed up the returns process. Not only will this help to get refunds to customers quicker, but it can also get your products restocked on the shelves faster – so they are ready to be sold again.  

Here at Lesters, we are experts in providing logistics and transport. To see how we can help you, get in touch with our helpful team today.