Retail and B2B Order Fulfillment

Retail fulfillment involves assembling and shipping orders directly to customers or a specific retailer, while B2B fulfillment is the process of shipping bulk orders to businesses. Both are efficient business models, but it’s important to note their differences.

A strong and reputable 3PL partner can help you warehouse inventory, manage fulfillment logistics, and handle timely shipping. 

Whether you need retail or B2B order fulfillment, Kable Product Services can help you outsource this process while you focus on growing your business.

Employee fulfilling orders at Kable Product Services

What is retail order fulfillment?

Retail order fulfillment is a multistep process that involves receiving, picking, packing, and shipping a customer’s order.

As an eCommerce retailer, it’s imperative to establish a strategic order fulfillment process. In doing so, this improves quality control and customer satisfaction ratings.

A qualified 3PL partner, like Kable Product Services, will have many years of experience and streamlined expertise in processing e-commerce order fulfillment.

Workflow and steps of the Retail Fulfillment process

An efficient workflow is key to ensuring that your products are available and shipped out as quickly as possible to your customers.

When choosing an order fulfillment provider, evaluating your supplier’s workflow processes is essential.

One of the most important elements of retail fulfillment is managing reorders.

Your fulfillment partner should have inventory management software that integrates via EDI with your production software. You want an accurate account of items in stock at the fulfillment center at all times.

1

 Warehousing your product

Retail warehousing is the process of storing inventory until it’s ready to be used.

Once the merchandise comes off the loading dock, your fulfillment partner will have an inventory management strategy for where it goes next, how it gets there, and how it will be stored while waiting to be shipped for customer order fulfillment.

Understanding the fulfillment process is vital, even if you use a third-party logistics partner.

Ask your potential fulfillment partners how they choose which items will be part of a shipment. You’ll want to know if they use the “First In, First Out” (FIFO) valuation method, or they may use the “First Expired, First Out” (FEFO) approach.

Find out if they have policies for every product category to decide which fulfillment method is most appropriate for your needs.

You need a fulfillment partner who will work with you to ensure that the warehousing process is as effective as possible and aligns with your expected order volume for each product.

2

Order picking and packaging

After warehouse team members pick your items, they must go through the packaging step for safe shipping to your customer.

Most deliveries require high-quality shipping materials to guarantee safe arrival. Kable Product Services takes extra care to ensure each package is safe and secure before transitioning to a shipping partner.

The items may be fragile, requiring the package to be filled with void fill or be bubble-wrapped to protect the products from getting broken during shipping.

We take packaging seriously and maintain high-quality control in this area.

3

Order shipping

The final step in the fulfillment process is shipping.

Customers should receive your items on or before the estimated date posted on your website at checkout.

Selecting a fulfillment partner close to most shoppers, like Kable Product Services, will benefit your customers regardless of location.

We work with several major shipping partners, fulfilling orders out of our Midwest facility. This location offers 1-2 day ground shipping to almost every zip code in the contiguous United States.

4

Returns Processing

Shipping is not the final step in the retail fulfillment process.

Customers will inevitably return your products from time to time (approximately 20.8% of online orders will subsequently be logged as returns). You want a fulfillment partner with a well-designed returns management process to keep costs down, and inventory accurately managed.

It’s essential to create a stringent workflow regarding return processing.

Steps in the returns process should include: receiving, inspecting, repackaging, and restocking your inventory.

Partnering with a 3PL who can manage this process for you will allow you to devote more time to the daily operations side of your business —cultivating new relationships, tailoring products and services, and growing your business.

Our goal is to minimize returns, and our quality control process includes weight checks, process audits, and random product inspections. This process allows us to keep orders moving quickly and accurately.

5

Restocking returned merchandise

The final step in retail fulfillment is restocking returned merchandise.

An experienced order fulfillment partner will be ready for this possibility with integrated technology that allows an item to be returned to inventory while simultaneously updating records on the customer’s side as well.

Benefits of 3PL retail fulfillment

Outsourcing retail fulfillment with a 3PL will save your business time and costs.

Managing fulfillment in-house is possible, but it will take significant bandwidth to streamline and integrate your IT systems, document procedures, hire and train trusted employees, and designate adequate space for inventory.

Here are a few benefits of 3PL retail fulfillment.

Shaking hands

Experienced logistics professionals

When you choose an experienced retail logistics partner, like Kable Product Services, you don’t just get outsourced shipping, you get a wealth of expertise.

We are an extension of your business. We work with you to help you achieve your unique goals. Our team’s objective is to exceed your customers’ expectations so they return to you repeatedly.

Grow Business

Ability to scale and grow your business

When you do your own fulfillment, you’re limited by your own capabilities; how much space you have, how many employees you can spare for order fulfillment, and how well your systems can keep up.

All these are barriers to your business growth—but they don’t have to be.

Outsourcing your fulfillment to a qualified partner means you can scale your business faster with fewer capital needs. Your own logistics capabilities no longer limit you.

Kable Product Services is proficient in helping businesses like yours scale resources and manage volume.

Warehouse

Inventory storage

If you do your own fulfillment, you need significant space for inventory storage. With a 3PL partner like Kable Product Services, storage space is not an issue.

Our secure facility specializes in B2B, B2C, and multichannel shipments.

Kable offers over 206,000 square feet of secure warehouse space, including temperature-controlled storage and locked/key card access.

Storing inventory with a fulfillment partner doesn’t have to be expensive.

Kable Product Services offers affordable weekly per pallet rates. We provide volume discounts for larger inventory accounts without long-term contracts or hidden fees.

Fulfillment Speed

Speed of fulfillment

Fast shipping is the new expectation of your customers.

Without advanced systems, receiving, processing, and packaging orders to meet customer expectations can be a real challenge.

This process takes additional hands on deck, and outsourcing to a 3PL will help minimize labor costs and expedite all functions related to fulfillment.

Choosing a retail partner, like Kable Product Systems, will provide you with retail fulfillment systems that expedite the shipping process.

Additionally, our software integrates with your CRM, ERP, and eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Cratejoy, Amazon, NetSuite, and many others. This complete and seamless integration ensures order accuracy and accelerated shipping.

Shipping Map

Closer proximity to your customers

Your business needs a central location for optimal fulfillment execution.

Kable Product Services’ central location will enhance your business’s fulfillment process by reducing ship speeds.

Faster shipping results in happier customers and, ultimately, repeat business and referrals.

Reviewing Product

Retail refurbishment

Returned items go through inspection before they return to inventory.

At Kable, we take great care in the process of retail refurbishment. Our inspections will ensure your brand standard needs.

As we re-pack each return, we ensure it’s placed into inventory in its original condition.

We take extreme care in the process of retail refurbishment.

Our job is to put our customers’ best face forward; if your customer receives an item that “looks used,” the satisfaction rating automatically drops—and so does your brand integrity.

As your 3PL partner, it’s our privilege to help you complete fulfillment with merchandise and packaging that’s passed the quality control expectations of our team.

Tagging

Re-tagging

All returned inventory is re-tagged and returned to its original condition, ready for a quick resale.

Label

Re-stickering

Returned merchandise is re-labeled and returned to inventory to ensure quality control.

Kable Product Services does this for your business directly from our warehouse.

Choosing the right retail fulfillment partner

Choosing the right retail fulfillment partner for your business depends on your unique needs. Look for the following factors when you choose a fulfillment partner.

Choose a centrally located warehouse

Choose a 3PL that’s centrally located for the fastest fulfillment.

A centrally located warehouse can offer the most efficient shipping speeds. As your customers shop around—shipping speed is a significant factor in your customers’ buying decisions.

Ask potential fulfillment partners where they will store your inventory and learn more about the location it will ship from en route to the customer.

Shipping time and distribution

You’ll also want to manage expectations by discussing upfront shipping time and distribution details. Ask your fulfillment partner how long most orders will take to leave the warehouse.

You should also familiarize yourself with their shipping partners. Will those options work for your business model and your customers?

Software integration capabilities

The 3PL partner you choose must have a fulfillment software platform that integrates with your systems.

This integration will ensure fast and accurate ordering, picking, packing, shipping, and returns. Additionally, your fulfillment partner needs to provide real-time monitoring tools, which include transparent access to data and other essential metrics for making decisions about your business.

Fulfillment analytics dashboard

Does your potential fulfillment partner give you ungated access to analytics on-demand?

The best practice is to have a retail fulfillment analytics dashboard to segment your data according to the metrics you are currently interested in seeing.

What is B2B order fulfillment?

Business to Business Fulfillment (B2B) differs slightly from retail fulfillment. The B2B fulfillment model involves the process of shipping bulk orders to other companies.

Shipments could be going to a physical retailer. It can also be wholesale orders to retailers.

B2B orders do not ship to individuals.

Evaluating B2B order fulfillment services

A qualified 3PL can handle both B2B fulfillment and direct-to-customer orders. Here are a few conditions to consider when determining the best B2B order fulfillment partner for your business.

Understanding EDI and Retailer Compliance

Maintaining EDI compliance means sending Personally Identifiable Information (e.g., credit card transactions) electronically.

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, is the prevalent secure communication method between businesses. Data is encrypted for safeguarding if a retailer wants to send invoices via EDI.

If you have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) promising to use EDI, your systems must stay in compliance. If they do not, your B2B customers can collect financial penalties from your business.

There could also be a number of unique processes that may be required based on your specific retailer’s compliance guidelines.

Easily accessible customer support

In a perfect world, all eCommerce operations would run flawlessly.

Unfortunately, mistakes in day-to-day operations are a cost of doing business. When discrepancies happen, having a capable customer support team on your side will make all the difference.

Customer success is vital in B2B fulfillment.

Look for a 3PL with a history of outstanding customer support. The account management team should understand your brand experience, and there should be a cultural fit.

Location to clients

As with direct-to-consumer shipping and fulfillment, B2B warehousing location is critical.

Kable Product Services offers shipping from our Midwest facility. This location offers fast ground shipping to almost every zip code in the United States.

Integrated dashboard analytics and inventory management

Quick, on-demand access to analytics and data is essential to making predictive decisions about your business.

Transparency is necessary for accurate communication with B2B customers. Visibility and KPIs you can access and manipulate on a dashboard are vital to improving your processes.

Look for a 3PL that offers access and transparency into your integrated dashboard analytics and inventory management 24/7/365.

Conveyor Belt

Why choose Kable Product Services as your 3PL fulfillment partner?

At Kable Product Services, we partner with your business to help you achieve your fulfillment goals.

We deliver efficient and competitively priced services through our fully integrated systems, flexible and scalable storage plans, central location, and returns capabilities.

We offer a comprehensive fulfillment analytics dashboard. This tool provides the necessary insights to monitor the order and shipping process.

Man holding tablet

Retail product fulfillment and B2B fulfillment are significant investments. They require time, a high level of industry knowledge, and fluid financial resources.

When you outsource with a 3PL partner like Kable Product Services, you partner with expert-level team players who know the fulfillment industry inside and out.

We are happy to help you extend your business’s logistics by delivering services that elevate the customer experience.

Let’s discuss your unique retail fulfillment or B2B fulfillment outsourcing needs. Speak with one of our industry experts by calling (513) 860-6764 or by filling out our form to receive a customized quote.