The Order Fulfillment Lifecycle: A Detailed Look

the order fulfillment lifecycle: a detailed look
The order fulfillment lifecycle is complex and can be difficult to manage. Learn strategies to optimize order fulfillment with Shipedge.
Written by Amanda
June 8, 2023
7 min read


The order fulfillment lifecycle is complex and can be difficult to manage. Learn strategies to optimize order fulfillment with Shipedge.
Written by Amanda
June 8, 2023
7 min read

In the eCommerce industry, every detail matters. From browsing products to unboxing an order, each interaction a customer has with a brand shapes their overall experience. One element that underpins this entire journey is the order fulfillment lifecycle. This intricate, multi-step process is the backbone of eCommerce operations and plays a pivotal role in customer satisfaction.

By mastering the stages of the order fulfillment lifecycle and implementing comprehensive management systems like those provided by Shipedge, businesses can create seamless customer experiences, streamline operations, and strengthen their position in the competitive eCommerce landscape. Let’s take a detailed look at what this lifecycle entails and how Shipedge’s technology enriches each touchpoint.

Stage One: Receiving

The inception of the order fulfillment lifecycle is marked by the stage of receiving. It’s the point where the inventory arrives from suppliers and is incorporated into the warehouse. This stage forms the bedrock of order fulfillment as the accuracy and efficiency at this juncture influence the subsequent stages. Let’s explore how Shipedge’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) facilitates an effective receiving process:

  • Verification of Goods: The first step is to verify the received goods against the purchase order to ensure all ordered items are accounted for. Shipedge’s WMS supports barcode scanning of incoming products, which significantly reduces the chance of human error and improves accuracy.
  • Quality Check: Once the received items are verified, a quality check is performed to identify any damaged goods. Shipedge’s WMS allows for the logging of any issues found during this check, enabling prompt communication with suppliers about any discrepancies.
  • Inventory Update: After verification and quality check, the inventory levels in the system are updated. Shipedge’s WMS automates this process, ensuring real-time accuracy of inventory data.
  • Assignment of Storage Location: After updating inventory, items are assigned to their respective storage locations within the warehouse. Shipedge’s system allows for the recording of the exact bin and shelf locations, making it easy to locate items later during order picking.

In summary, the receiving stage is a cornerstone in the order fulfillment lifecycle, setting the tone for the rest of the process. With Shipedge’s technology, businesses can ensure an efficient, accurate, and streamlined receiving process, which in turn positively influences the subsequent stages of order fulfillment.

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Stage Two: Inventory Storage

Inventory storage is the next stage in the order fulfillment lifecycle. Once the inventory has been received and checked, it needs to be stored in a manner that allows for efficient retrieval during order picking. This is where the organization and layout of the warehouse play a critical role. Here’s how Shipedge’s WMS enhances the inventory storage process:

  • Optimized Warehouse Layout: Shipedge’s WMS allows for the establishment of an optimized warehouse layout. This includes the assignment of bin and shelf locations for each item, which ensures that items can be located quickly and easily when needed.
  • Efficient Space Utilization: Using Shipedge’s suggested warehouse layout helps maximize warehouse space by identifying the most efficient storage locations based on product dimensions, weight, and sales velocity. This not only saves warehouse space but also reduces the time taken for order picking.
  • Inventory Visibility: Shipedge’s WMS provides real-time visibility into inventory levels and locations, enabling warehouse managers to make informed decisions about restocking and inventory rotation.
Designing an Efficient Warehouse Layout for eCommerce

Stage Three: Order Processing

Order processing is a key stage in the order fulfillment lifecycle, which kicks into action when a customer places an order. This involves several steps, including order picking, packing, and preparation for shipment. Here’s how Shipedge’s WMS facilitates this process:

  • Order Picking: The WMS generates pick lists, which guide warehouse staff through the most efficient route to collect items for an order. This not only speeds up the order picking process but also minimizes the chances of picking errors.
  • Integration with Shopping Carts and Marketplaces: Shipedge’s system integrates seamlessly with various shopping carts and marketplaces, ensuring smooth and error-free order processing. This means that as soon as an order is placed, it appears in the WMS, ready to be fulfilled.
  • Packing and Labeling: Once the items are picked, they are packed and labeled. Shipedge’s WMS supports the printing of packing slips and shipping labels, ensuring accurate order fulfillment and preparation for shipment.

In essence, the stages of inventory storage and order processing are crucial for timely and accurate order fulfillment. With a comprehensive solution like Shipedge’s WMS, businesses can optimize these stages, reduce errors, and enhance efficiency, all of which contribute to a superior customer experience.

Shipedge Horizontal Logo

Stage Four: Shipping

Shipping is a crucial stage in the order fulfillment lifecycle. This is the point where the ordered product is dispatched from the warehouse and begins its journey to the customer’s doorstep. Efficient and accurate shipping practices are necessary to ensure customer satisfaction. Here’s how Shipedge’s technology aids in the shipping process:

  • Carrier Integration: Shipedge’s system integrates with a host of major shipping carriers. This allows businesses to provide real-time shipping rates to customers, fostering transparency and trust.
  • Competitive Rates: Through partnerships and direct rates from carriers, Shipedge is able to offer the Best Rates Possible (BRP) through our automatic best-rate shipping feature. All you have to do is connect your favorite carrier to find the cheapest rates to ship orders to customers.
  • Label Printing: Upon confirmation of the shipping method, shipping labels can be automatically generated and printed, saving time and reducing the possibility of errors.

Discover how our WMS can improve your business

Stage Five: Returns and Refunds

Despite all efforts, returns are an inevitable aspect of eCommerce. The way a business handles returns and refunds can significantly impact customer satisfaction and loyalty. Therefore, it is vital to have efficient returns management processes in place. Here’s how Shipedge’s WMS simplifies returns management:

  • Return Authorization: Shipedge’s system supports the creation of Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), which streamlines the returns process for both the business and the customer.
  • Visibility into Returns: The WMS provides clear visibility into returned items, their condition, and their location in the warehouse. This enables quick processing of refunds or exchanges, enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Inventory Update: Upon the receipt and processing of returned items, the inventory levels in the system are updated accordingly. This ensures accurate inventory data, which is crucial for effective order fulfillment.

READ MORE: Returns, Exchanges, and Reverse Logistics Made Simple

The stages of shipping and returns management are pivotal in shaping the customer’s experience with a business. By leveraging Shipedge’s technology, businesses can automate these stages, minimize errors, and ensure a smooth and satisfying shopping experience for their customers.

Discover how our WMS can improve your business

Order Fulfillment Lifecycle as a Whole

In closing, understanding the order fulfillment lifecycle is not merely an operational requirement, but a strategic advantage in today’s competitive eCommerce landscape. From the moment a customer places an order until they receive their package, each stage presents an opportunity for a business to excel, enhance the customer experience, and build loyalty.

By leveraging robust software like Shipedge offers, businesses can streamline and optimize each stage of the order fulfillment lifecycle. This leads to not only increased efficiency but also greater accuracy, faster delivery times, and improved customer satisfaction. These enhancements subsequently lead to higher customer retention, more positive reviews, and increased sales.

Moreover, as businesses expand into broader markets, understanding and effectively managing the complexities of the order fulfillment lifecycle becomes even more critical. Here again, solutions like Shipedge prove invaluable, helping businesses overcome challenges such as customs clearance, international shipping, and returns management.

In essence, mastery over the order fulfillment lifecycle—with the aid of advanced software solutions—translates into business success in the eCommerce world. It’s the key to standing out in a crowded market, meeting and exceeding customer expectations, and ultimately, driving sustainable growth.

For any questions regarding order fulfillment optimization, reach out to our solutions team below!

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