When entrepreneurs start on their ecommerce journey, they will likely do everything themselves or with a very small team. This means ordering products, fulfiling orders, and shipping them out. Any tracking is normally done by spreadsheets if it is done at all.
This is perfectly fine when ecommerce businesses start out. However, as they start to grow processes like this start to break down as people get busy and human error creeps in.
What is an ecommerce fulfilment platform?
An ecommerce fulfilment platform is a piece of software that lets you manage all of your fulfilment operations in one place.
Businesses turn to them when they are:
- Looking to grow and need to make sure their fulfilment process can match their ambitions
- Using multiple pieces of software to manage their fulfilment operations and want to streamline their operations
Features of an Ecommerce fulfilment Platform
Inventory tracking and control features
One of the main operational challenges of multichannel ecommerce is keeping your inventory updated across multiple channels. For example, you could be selling on your own website, a physical store and on marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay.
If you don’t sync your inventory across these marketplaces it can lead to overselling. Where a customer purchases a product on one channel only to find out later that it is out of stock.
An ecommerce fulfilment platform will automatically sync inventory across all channels so that when you make a sale on one channel all the others are updated.
Another way ecommerce businesses can run into problems is when they don’t realise they are running low on stock. Again this can lead to items being out of stock and the business losing sales
An ecommerce fulfilment platform will automatically send you stock alerts at replenishment points, so you can then reorder products when you need to. Set up correctly, this will take into account lead times.
This neatly brings us on to inventory purchasing. Part of having control of your inventory is being able to quickly reorder it when you need. With a modern ecommerce fulfilment platform, you should be able to automatically generate invoices to send your suppliers when you need to reorder.
Virtually bundle products & kits
Being able to sell your products in bundles is a major advantage for ecommerce companies. It allows you to run special promotions, give your customers deals and even shift slow-moving stock.
But putting products into bundles can lead to issues with your inventory control if you are not tracking your sales properly. For example, if you do not have bundles set up correctly you could end up selling more products than you realise (as they will be being sold as individual items and as part of a bundle). With inventory management software you will be able to automatically put products into a bundle and track their sales both as part of the bundle and as an individual item.
Key to a business’s success is its ability to accurately use it’s data. If you are just using spreadsheets to keep on top of your data, it’s likely that:
a) human error will creep in, leading to inaccurate data.
b) it can be time-consuming to produce an easy to digest report
That’s why a modern ecommerce fulfilment platform gives you a range of easy to digest reports (such as product reports and sales reports) to help you make informed decisions about your business
A common drag on the growth of ecommerce businesses is not knowing how much stock to order, especially when preparing for peak sales periods like Black Friday or Christmas.
To accurately forecast the amount of stock you require it helps to have a fulfilment platform that can do dynamic forecasting. Dynamic forecasting is where the fuflilment platform produces forecasts that take into account variables like previous peak sales periods. So you can accurately forecast enough products for future sales periods.
Warehouse management features
Syncing across multiple locations
As an ecommerce business grows it may look to keep it’s stock in different warehouses or in a shop and a warehouse. When this happens it’s important to be able to keep a unified stock count across each location. So that you know how much stock you have in each location and overall.
Know where your stock is, even when it’s on the move
Sometimes stock will be in between warehouses or on the way from your supplier to a warehouse. It’s important to have this figure easily accessible at all times, so you don’t get confused as to the true amount of stock you have. This is very hard to do if you aren’t using a perpetual inventory system and are instead tracking inventory manually.
Provide visibility for your whole team
As your business becomes more successful it is likely you will want to hire more people to do tasks that you once did yourself.
This causes problems if each person is acting on different information using their own processes or software to record any action they take. Having one ecommerce platform ameliorates this situation by giving you one centralised system for your entire team to use and record actions on.
Barcode Scanning & Digital picking
Digital picking works by using barcodes to connect your products to your inventory management system. Every time an item is picked, it is scanned either by a specialist scanner or a mobile app. This serves a few different purposes:
- Makes sure your picking team is always picking the right item. This is important if you have many similar-looking products (such as the same shirt in medium or large).
- Allows your team to do inventory cycle counts, where they take their barcode scanner and do a stocktake of part of your inventory at regular intervals. A more accurate and efficient way of doing stocktakes than doing them the old-fashioned manual way.
- Makes your live inventory count much more accurate, as each time an item is scanned it is updated accurately. Without the chance of human error.
A modern ecommerce fulfilment platform should also help expedite your shipping process. This is by being able to:
- Bulk print shipping labels
- One-click printing for labels, pick lists, and invoices
- Automating shipping workflows
An ecommerce fulfilment platform like Veeqo will also integrate with your shipping carriers, help manage returns in one place and help manage refunds.
A key way to keep your operations efficient is through automation. Automations work by letting you set rules for each part of your fulfilment process. This means you don’t have to have someone make lots of small decisions, which will often lead to errors. Thus speeding up your processes and making them more efficient.
There are many uses of automation, such as:
Select the right shipping carrier – every time
You can automate the process of selecting a shipping carrier. This could be based on sales channel, customer location or another relevant factor.
Producing optimal picking lists
You could also use automation to decide which picker should pick which items and in which order they should pick them based on the warehouse route. This makes it easier and faster for your pickers to do their job and you to fulfil orders.
It may already be apparent, but it’s still worth stating that: key to a modern Ecommerce platform is its ability to integrate with a wide range of other ecommerce applications. Alongside marketplace and shipping integrations, it should also be able to integrate with accounting applications, POS applications like Vend and Shopify, 3PLs and more.
Veeqo is an ecommerce fulfilment platform designed for ecommerce businesses looking to scale and improve their fulfilment operations. It offers marketing leading inventory, warehouse, shipping and picking management: in one platform. SmartConsign is integrated with Veeqo, helping to make the shipping process clearer and easier for businesses to grow