What Is Fulfillment?

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A common question we get is “What exactly is fulfillment?”

what is fulfillment
Here’s how we define fulfillment. It is the process by which something you value in your business — a product, a part, marketing or educational material that is pre-produced or produced on-demand, stored safely and securely and then shipped at your direction to customers, staff or others.

A lot of companies use professional fulfillment firms to handle this aspect of their business. Because they are specialists, fulfillment firms can do the job efficiently and effectively. Here’s how a fulfillment system should work, using ours as an example.

1. Client inventory delivery

A client’s inventory is delivered to our warehouse. We accept the shipment, count the items, note the date and time the shipment arrived and assign a place for the inventory in our warehouse.

2. Cataloging inventory

All of this information is entered into our computerized inventory system. Our client receives, by email, an incoming receipt notice that tells them when the shipment arrived and what it contained.

3. Labeling and organizing inventory

Our computer system prints out placards that detail the shipment. Placards are placed on the inventory, facing out, so that when orders come in, warehouse workers can easily find items stored in our warehouse.

4. Processing orders

Our fulfillment system is tied to our client’s order system. When we get the orders from a client, the ordered item is packaged, processed and shipped. There is no batch shipping. In some instances, things like price lists, brochures or product information can be printed on-demand as needed daily and fulfilled. This requires no storage or pre-printing for additional savings. Everything happens in real time. The client can log on to our system through a portal to check on their inventory, orders and shipments.

5. Reporting

The computer system can be programmed to send all sorts of inventory reports to clients. Is their inventory running low? There is an automated notice for that. Do they need to know how many books shipped last month? There’s a report for that. The system can produce 150 different reports in addition to customized reports that we can design for clients.

6. Cycle counting inventory

We routinely count our clients’ inventory. Each day, our warehouse crew is assigned sections of the warehouse, where they count materials by hand. Their counts are compared to the inventory numbers in our computer system. If there is a discrepancy, we find out why the numbers are not the same and we fix the problem.


Sharon Vanover

September 15, 2014

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