Customer fulfillment is the ability of a company to deliver their goods or services into the hands of consumers. While customer fulfillment has been a part of business for several decades, increases in ecommerce has increased the need for this business function. Internet-based companies are also a driving force in customer fulfillment as these businesses do not usually have a physical location for storing and maintaining inventory. Business owners and managers typically develop strategies for completing this business function.
Outsourcing is the process where a company contracts with a fulfillment business to fill customer orders. Fulfillment businesses typically work with companies who lack resources for Internet sales, whether the company is Internet-based or not. These businesses can also provide technical support or customer service functions so customers can receive timely feedback on questions and comments. Most fulfillment businesses use contracts to set specific costs and procedures for these services.
Companies may decide to create new internal business functions for customer fulfillment services. This may include adding a new warehouse, computer equipment for track and shipping orders or hiring more employees to work in the fulfillment department. Business owners typically use this strategy if they already have a physical location in addition to their ecommerce function. Careful planning is often necessary to ensure the company will not spend too much capital on adding new processes that will not be repaid from ecommerce orders.
Supply chains are a traditional customer fulfillment service in the business environment. Companies use a string of other businesses to help them deliver goods or services through customer fulfillment. While this process is somewhat similar to outsourcing, it usually involves the use of more businesses around the national economic market. Companies can contract with multiple warehouses or distributors around the nation to have a delivery system in various local markets. A supply chain may allow companies to deliver goods and services quicker through multiple locations.