When it comes to ecommerce, online businesses operate on one of the two models: business to customer (B2C) or business to business (B2B).
Whether you are fulfiling orders for end customers or another business, it may seem that there isn’t much difference between the two. An order is an order, right? Well, this assumption is wrong.
B2B and B2C orders deal with similar ecommerce logistics operations, but the scope of their operations is different. While B2C fulfilment deals with numerous orders with low quantities, B2B order fulfilment deals with a limited number of orders with higher quantities.
As a matter of fact, B2B orders require special processes, more infrastructure and strict attention to SLA (Service Level Agreement), delivery time and accuracy. Otherwise, ecommerce brands can fail to establish long-term relationships with their ecommerce clients.
In this blog, you will learn what is B2B order fulfilment, the difference between B2B and B2C order fulfilment, and what to look for in your B2B order fulfilment provider.
B2B fulfilment refers to fulfilling orders to other businesses or retailers rather than directly to customers. B2B fulfilment often deals with bulk orders that are shipped via freight or parcel. B2B fulfilment ultimately helps other businesses to stock up on products so they can resell to their customers through single or multiple sales channels.
Let’s take an example; a business produces footwear for kids. They send their products to an online brand to further sell footwear to customers. In this scenario, B2B fulfilment would refer to the order fulfilment between the two businesses.
Although the order fulfilment process followed in B2B and B2C fulfilment is the same, there are fundamental differences between the two:
Now that you know what B2B fulfilment entails and how it differs from B2C fulfilment, let’s learn what are the things you should look for in a B2B fulfilment service provider for your business.
It’s crucial for your B2B fulfilment provider to have an advanced Inventory Management System (IMS) and Warehouse Management System (WMS). On one hand, an inventory management system (IMS) can simplify inventory management with features such as real-time inventory sync, full inventory visibility, maintaining reorder levels, replenishment, and demand forecasting. Moreover, it can help you reduce the risk of overselling as well as avoid stock-outs and excess stock that can incur unnecessary costs. If your B2B fulfilment service provider does not have an inventory management system (IMS), it would mean manual tracking and management of inventory and a higher chance of human errors—resulting in inefficiency, higher costs, delay in B2B fulfilment, and poor business credibility.
On the other hand, a warehouse management system (WMS) helps optimise warehouse operations like picking and packing. Moreover, a powerful warehouse management system (WMS) consolidates orders from multiple sales channels and synchronises with inventory and order management.
Your B2B fulfilment provider must have an efficient warehouse management system (WMS) to ensure that warehouse operations are carried out smoothly and efficiently. This will help you derive maximum results and on-time service by leaving no scope for error that can comprise the entire fulfilment workflow.
The most essential aspect of B2B fulfilment is on-time delivery. Even a slight delay can lead to a considerable loss. So, your B2B fulfilment provider must have a distributed network of fulfilment centres across India, enabling you to store your inventory closer to your client or retailer and execute faster B2B fulfilment in the most cost-effective manner. Moreover, the B2B fulfilment provider should have strong tie-ups with not one but multiple courier companies so that you can improve your shipping reach without any downtime or hiccups.
Essentially, your B2B fulfilment provider must have backup plans in case of shipping exceptions to ensure that the supply chain is functioning at all times.
Dedicated account management is the key to success in B2B fulfilment, and since it deals with larger and more complex orders, small issues can have big consequences. That’s why your B2B fulfilment provider must provide prompt solutions for your grievances and concerns. Moreover, they should prioritise customer support, be solution-oriented and take their B2B relationship seriously. Also, sending order updates and keeping you informed at every step is a must.
When you partner up with a B2B fulfilment provider, make sure they have the right technology that allows you to track your inventory, the status of B2B orders, and more all in one location. Thus, this makes an all-in-one dashboard an absolute necessity to compete with the leading players in today’s ecommerce market.
There is tiny or no room for error in B2B fulfilment. Hence, your B2B fulfilment service provider must have a highly trained staff and streamlined operations that follow standard operating procedures and automated workflows. These will ensure minimal downtime and no errors during order processing.
Eshopbox is a tech-enabled 3PL that primarily provides B2C order fulfilment for ecommerce brands of all sizes. But Eshopbox also offers B2B fulfilment services to deliver B2B orders quickly, accurately and economically.
B2B fulfilment can be challenging if you try to manage it independently. Errors in preparing B2B shipments can cost you money and even result in losing the big wholesale account you worked so hard to get. Outsourcing to a 3PL fulfilment provider like Eshopbox can help you lessen the load and execute accurate and timely B2B fulfilment without a miss.