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B2B order fulfilment: What to look for in a B2B solution
Order fulfilment

B2B order fulfilment: What to look for in a B2B solution

Versha Kamwal
June 20, 2022
7
mins read

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.

What is B2B order fulfilment?

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.

What is the difference between B2B and B2C order fulfilment?

Although the order fulfilment process followed in B2B and B2C fulfilment is the same, there are fundamental differences between the two:

  1. Order volume and quantity
    B2B orders are much higher in terms of quantity and lower in volume as compared to B2C orders. For instance, customers usually order 2-3 pieces of one SKU (stock-keeping units). Whereas businesses or retailers order hundreds or thousands of units of one SKU.
  2. Cost
    Unlike B2C fulfilment, B2B fulfilment deals with larger volumes—orders are much more expensive and valuable. Moreover, they require more labour and handling equipment.
  3. Shipping
    The shipping for B2B orders is far more complex as they are larger and bulkier than B2C orders. Usually, B2B orders are shipped via ground or sea transportation as they cannot be accommodated in air transportation easily. In contrast, B2C orders can be shipped via ground, sea and air transportation with ease.
  4. Fulfilment time
    While, offering lightning-fast delivery is the key factor in enhancing customer experience, but B2C orders usually don’t have a definitive time limit for delivery. Although, some ecommerce brands share an estimated date of delivery with their customers. On the other hand, B2B fulfilment is more time-sensitive and must be delivered at the decided date and time.
  5. Frequency
    The frequency of B2B orders is less when compared with B2C orders. While B2C orders are fulfiled on a daily basis, B2B orders are placed and fulfiled over a longer period of time.

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.

Things to look for in a B2B fulfilment service provider

1. Robust Inventory Management System (IMS) and Warehouse Management System (WMS)

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.

2. Strong shipping network

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.

3. World-class customer support

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.

4. All-in-one dashboard

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.

5. Streamlined operations with automated workflows

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.

How can Eshopbox help in B2B fulfilment?

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.

  • With Eshopbox’s distributed network of fulfilment centres across India, you can store your inventory closer to your clients. This will help you reduce shipping costs, improve shipping speed, and ensure on-time delivery for your B2B orders.
  • Eshopbox’s state-of-the-art fulfilment centres are equipped with the latest warehouse and inventory management systems to ensure your products are stored and processed correctly.
  • You can also provide special instructions for your custom needs, including packaging, quantity, shipping conditions and method.
  • Eshopbox priorities customer support to address any concerns or grievances that you may have and provides prompt resolutions.
  • Eshopbox follows Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for B2B fulfilment and incorporates automated workflows to ensure zero errors and timely order processing.
  • Eshopbox also gives access to best-in-class technology for reporting and insights. With Eshopbox’s actionable dashboard, you can have full visibility of your B2B fulfilment operations and data.

Bottom line

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.

Connect with our fulfilment expert today.

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