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Fulfilment as a service: Technology-driven ecommerce fulfilment

Versha Kamwal
June 23, 2021
7
mins read

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In today's world, customers demand a consistent fulfilment experience across multiple sales channels—whether an online store or marketplaces. They want a fast fulfilment option on every platform they shop. With this, ecommerce sellers are constantly challenged to meet this growing expectation of a unified experience.

As a solution, tech-enabled 3PL (third-party logistics) providers are now transforming the way ecommerce sellers fulfil their orders. Unlike a traditional 3PL who simply picks, packs, and ships orders to the customers, tech-enabled 3PLs are empowering ecommerce sellers with:

  • Robust logistics technology
  • Lightning-fast shipping speeds
  • Transparent pricing

Adding to the transformation, there is a new innovation to fuel this growth exponentially!

You might have heard of software as a service (SaaS), a software licensing model centrally hosted on a subscription basis, but do you know what 'fulfilment as a service' means?

Just like SaaS, 'fulfilment as a service' provides greater scalability to an online business with lower costs and better returns.

In this blog, you'll learn what is 'fulfilment as a service', its salient features, the benefits of using 'fulfilment as a service', and what to look for while choosing the right 'fulfilment as a service' for your online business.

What is fulfilment as a service?

Fulfilment as a Service, referred to as FaaS or Logistics as a Service (LaaS), is a fulfilment model in which ecommerce sellers use a broad range of fulfilment resources and services of a third-party on-demand.

In this model, ecommerce sellers can avail specific or all the fulfilment services, when they want—overcoming the constraints typically involved in in-house or traditional third-party logistics.

Thus, tech-enabled 3PLS offer online sellers adaptive storage space, warehouse infrastructure, advanced technology, and pricing models that meet their real-time needs. As an ecommerce seller, you can use these resources to expand or reduce your requirements as per your needs, without impacting your delivery speed or customer experience.

Apart from the usual services offered by traditional 3PLs, such as:

'Fulfilment as a service' by tech-enabled 3PLs entails the following:

  • Integration with multiple sales channels like Amazon, Flipkart, Shopify and more to enable multichannel selling
  • Intelligent splitting of inventory to store products closest to customers and achieve speedy delivery
  • Lighting-fast shipping speeds to meet all Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Real-time order visibility and tracking for customers
  • Efficient management of fluctuations in order volumes

What are the salient features of fulfilment as a service?

While the services provided by a traditional 3PL provider may appear similar to FaaS at first glance, but not all 3PLs offer all the services needed to streamline fulfilment operations and make your fulfilment pipeline more efficient.

Services provided by a traditional 3PL provider and a tech-enabled 3PL provider differ in three key areas:

1. Technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in curating the most efficient fulfilment services. Therefore, it should be present through every step of the fulfilment process to eliminate human errors and add reliability and speed in fulfilment operations. A technology-driven 3PL like Eshopbox offers an advanced way to manage inventory, orders, returns and payments. Its actionable dashboards give you a real-time snapshot of your entire fulfilment operations. This means, you can drill down transactions to get advanced reporting that can help you make data-informed decisions.

The powerful automated workflows give you transparency and accountability to scale your ecommerce business. These include integration with multiple sales channels, powerful inventory management system (IMS), centralised inventory pool, real-time inventory updates, optimised picking and packing process, order fulfilment from an optimised fulfilment centre, advanced reporting and much more.

2. Speed

Order fulfilment services are built around speed and efficiency to improve the customer experience. Mostly, all 3PL providers can offer you fast fulfilment but it comes down to your choice of tech-enabled 3PL provider if you want to offer lightning-fast delivery to your customers across the country.

An experienced 3PL provider like Eshopbox ensures on-time order processing so that you can achieve same-day shipping. Additionally, with Eshopbox you can distribute your inventory in multiple fulfilment centres across India so that you can reach your customers faster and offer lightning-fast fulfilment.

3. Pricing

Traditional 3PL providers tend to have complicated pricing structures with various hidden fees. In comparison, the fulfilment as a service offered by tech-enabled 3PL providers tends to come with transparent pricing.

For instance, Eshopbox’s offers pay-as-you-go pricing that ensures that you won’t drain your financial resources. This means you are charged for the services you are using with a fixed monthly subscription fee without any long-term commitment. Moreover, Eshopbox offers clear and transparent pricing—you don’t need to dive deep to identify hidden costs as all the fees applicable would be clearly visible.

Now, you know how fulfilment as a service is unique, let's take a look at the benefits it offers.

The benefits of fulfilment as a service

The fulfillment as a service not only offers all the benefits that a experienced 3PL offers, but also some additional advantages to ecommerce sellers like:

1. Gives higher return on investment

When you outsource fulfilment to a tech-enabled 3PL, you don’t have to make heavy investment in building an infrastructure, manforce, or their training. With the clear and affordable pricing of fulfilment as a service, you only pay for the storage space you’re using and the orders that are fulfilled. Thus, you can significantly save on operational logistics, making it easier to increase your ROI on your fulfilment service.

2. Saves time and ensures faster shipping speeds

Fulfillment as a service handles your entire fulfilment operation— from receiving inventory to ensuring orders are delivered on time while creating an exceptional unboxing experience for your customers. With no fulfilment tasks on your to-do list, you can spend more time on business growth by focusing on your core expertise. Moreover, fulfilment as a service providers have everything to deliver orders within 2-days or less—from resources, experience, warehouses, to partnerships. Plus, they use their network of fulfilment centres to distribute and store your inventory closer to the customers to provide both lightning-fast and affordable fulfilment.

3. Provides greater scalability

The adaptive and on-demand nature of fulfilment as a service means that you can quickly scale your fulfilment services in order to handle sudden spide in order volumes or as your business grows.

For instance, you can expand your storage requirements and pick and pack service during the festive season like Diwali or while running a flash sale.

What to look for in a 'fulfilment as a service'?

The key to succeeding with fulfilment as a service is partnering with the right 3PL provider. For that, you need to evaluate a fulfilment partner. Here are a few things you need to look for:

Integrations with established sales channels

Choose a fulfilment service that integrates with top marketplaces, such as Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Nykaa, Ajio, and more as well as shopping carts, such as Shopify, Woo-commerce, and Magento. These native and custom integrations will help you integrate quickly and efficiently.

Eshopbox's pre-built integrations with marketplaces, shopping carts, ERP, accounting software, and analytical tools can help you to completely automate your operations. You can connect these applications to your system with a few clicks without any developer effort.

Eshopbox's integrations with sales channels and shopping carts
Eshopbox's integrations with sales channels and shopping carts

Fast shipping speeds

Today's customers expect free and fast delivery as standard service from online stores. So, you need to look for a fulfilment provider that provides fast shipping speeds.

Eshopbox's fully compliant and SLA-driven picking and packing service enables you to offer express shipping for your orders.

Multiple fulfilment locations

Go for a fulfilment service that uses a network of fulfilment centres across India to distribute your inventory.

Eshopbox’s distributed network of fulfilment centres enables you to ensure nationwide express delivery, by storing your inventory closer to your customers.

Eshopbox's distributed network of fulfilment centres
Eshopbox's distributed network of fulfilment centres

Transparent pricing

Never enter a fulfilment agreement with a fulfilment company without fully understanding the costs involved. You need to look for a transparent pricing model that adjusts to your real-time needs just like Eshopbox's pay-as-you-go pricing.

Reliable track record

You need to look for a fulfilment partner who’s reliable and can guarantee real-time inventory visibility, great accuracy in order processing, and who can cover your losses in case of damages or pilferages.

Eshopbox has an extensive list of satisfied clients who scaled their online business and achieved specified goals.

Value-added services

Before choosing a fulfilment partner, check whether they provide value-added services, such as kitting and virtual kitting, refurbishing, returns management, and custom packaging.

Eshopbox incorporates custom workflows and value-added services as per your requirement through the order fulfilment process. For instance, you can offer product kits to your customer for maximising the product exposure.

Seller privileges

'Amazon prime' and 'Flipkart assured' are quality and speed badges considered as a benchmark in online shopping. You need to look for a fulfilment partner who can help you win both these badges with exceptional and consistent performance.

With Eshopbox, you are optimised for  Amazon prime and Flipkart assured to boost your product’s discoverability and build credibility.

Amazon Prime badge
Flipkart assured badge
Flipkart Assured badge

Scalability

You need to have the right fulfilment provider who has expertise in handling high order volume. It must be able to pick, pack, and ship orders accurately, and deliver them to the customers within the SLA. Thus, you need a 'fulfilment as a service' that propels your business forward. This means you must look for a fulfilment partner that’s invested in your future growth.

Eshopbox has expertise in handling all the variability—from processing large order volumes to occasional order spikes.

Bottom line

As we move forward, the ability of ecommerce sellers to deliver an exceptional online shopping experience across multiple sales channels will be critical for their long-term success. As a solution to cater to ecommerce sellers and customers, fulfilment as a service can redefine the entire order fulfilment process with a technology-oriented outlook. The right approach can help you lead the ecommerce landscape as today's customers have high expectations for personalised experiences and very little patience for those who cannot deliver.

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