In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover the ecommerce fulfillment process, plus strategies to give you a competitive edge.
Fulfillment is a vital process if your business relies on getting products to customers. Some sellers manage the order fulfillment process in-house, while others use a third-party service, or some combination of both.

One example of a fulfillment solution is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which lets sellers ship products into Amazon’s fulfillment network and outsource the packing, shipping, customer service, and returns.

Fine-tuning your fulfillment process and making the most of ecommerce resources can be a great way to keep customers happy and grow your business, so let’s dive into the details. We’ll cover:
  • What ecommerce fulfillment is and why it matters
  • How order fulfillment works
  • Five fulfillment options
  • How to choose a fulfillment method
  • Fulfillment service costs
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Case Study

How a small startup brand grew with FBA

“We were able to launch without having a distribution center. We were able to launch without having people dedicated to fulfilling inventory. That’s a big deal.”
Matt McCauley
Founder, Hope & Henry

Learn the lingo:

Fulfillment center

A fulfillment center is a location that handles order fulfillment processes such as receiving and storing inventory, managing stock, picking and packaging products, and ecommerce shipping. Amazon’s network includes more than 100 fulfillment centers worldwide.
Illustration of a Prime truck being loaded at an Amazon Fulfillment Center

How order fulfillment works: 5 steps

Step 1: Receiving inventory

The first step in your fulfillment strategy will likely be to get the products you want to sell and store them in an appropriate space. This could be your place of business, a warehouse, or another storage location.

If you’re working with a third party, they might be responsible for receiving inventory. Be sure to check relevant guidelines they might have for packing and labeling to speed the process of receiving inventory and avoid damaging products in transit.

You might not handle this step of the fulfillment process if you use direct order fulfillment methods, such as dropshipping. But you might still need to coordinate with a manufacturer, distributor, or another entity in order to source products.
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Did you know?

You can benefit from competitive rates with trusted carriers

If you want to send inventory into Amazon’s fulfillment network, you might be able to save time and money with special rates and solutions through partnered carriers.

Step 2: Inventory storage

From the time you receive inventory to the point when customers place orders, you’ll likely need to store inventory and monitor stock levels. The use of fulfillment status designations, such as “awaiting fulfillment,” “pending fulfillment,” and “fulfilled,” can help you manage inventory and also keep buyers informed as part of a seamless customer communication strategy.

Make sure inventory is accessible so you can easily track stock levels and quickly access units in order to fulfill orders. Whether you use a garage, a spare room, or one or more warehouses, be sure the space can accommodate seasonal fluctuations in demand, like for holidays.

Learn the lingo:

Stock keeping unit

A stock keeping unit (SKU) is an alphanumeric string of letters and numbers. A merchant assigns a unique SKU to a product to help keep track of inventory.

Step 3: Order processing

Once a customer completes a transaction, order processing begins.

Pick-and-pack fulfillment is a common system for processing orders. It refers to selecting products in the right quantities to meet an order and packing them with appropriate materials for shipment.

A critical part of order processing is choosing the right packaging. This could be:
  • 存储商品和追踪库存
  • 包装订单商品并为其贴标
  • 管理客户关系
有效且可靠的配送服务有助于与买家建立信任并让买家满意。如果商品配送未达到买家的期望,或商品在运输过程中出现残损,该如何处理? 此类配送问题可能会对业务造成不利影响。


Step 4: Ecommerce shipping

如果您的业务依赖于将商品配送给买家,那么配送至关重要。自行配送可能经济划算。但是,您如何知道何时需要投资存储空间或采用第三方配送解决方案? 以下是一些提示:

Step 5: Returns processing

Returns are a normal part of ecommerce, so don’t let them discourage you. Clothing is the most commonly returned type of online retail good, accounting for 75% of returns.

Make sure to have a process for dealing with returns, restocking or discarding defective products, and issuing refunds to customers. This might include providing instructions on how to return items.

Remember, with FBA, Amazon can process returns on your behalf.
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Did you know?

You can offer Prime shipping benefits through Buy with Prime

Buy with Prime lets you display the Prime logo and delivery promise on your own website. It’s been shown to increase customer conversion by an average of 25%.
illustration of people at a control center looking at a large map

5 ecommerce fulfillment options

You can fulfill orders on your own, team up with a third-party solution, or use some combination of in-house and outsourced fulfillment to meet demand for all your sales channels. Many fulfillment solutions, like FBA, are flexible and designed to be compatible with your existing operations and help you grow.

1. In-house fulfillment

You can store and ship from your place of business, although this option might limit the variety and quantity of products you can sell, and it could drive up your overhead expenses.

In-house fulfillment might be cost-effective if you sell a low volume of products, have your own functioning logistics network, or sell products with complicated packaging or other special requirements, such as a temperature-controlled environment for perishable goods.
  • 64% 的买家期望免费配送订单在三个工作日内送达
You can fulfill products yourself and still create listings and enjoy other benefits in the Amazon store. We call this Fulfilled by Merchant. This suite of solutions can help save you time and money when you fulfill orders on your own with:
  • Automation to sync your inventory, manage customer orders, and streamline your various sales channels
  • Great ecommerce shipping rates and fast, reliable delivery
  • Increased account-health protection for delivery-related claims
You can use Fulfilled by Merchant services for every product you sell, or just select products. You can also combine Fulfilled by Merchant with other methods like FBA.


许多电子商务服务提供商都会提供配送解决方案,包括仓储、包装、配送以及退货处理。例如,亚马逊物流可为亚马逊卖家提供上述所有服务。2021 年,亚马逊美国商城中有超过 600,000 个卖家使用亚马逊物流为买家提供免费的隔日达服务。

如何找到合适的配送服务? 以下是寻找第三方配送服务时需要考虑的一些因素



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Pro tip

Integrate channels using software from the Selling Partner Appstore

We offer over 100 integrations to seamlessly connect MCF with all your systems. The Selling Partner Appstore is another resource that can help you integrate sales channels with software solutions to automate, manage, and grow your business.


Direct order fulfillment is the process of shipping products directly to the customer. For example, you can create handmade products and ship orders yourself, or use a dropshipper to ship products to customers from the manufacturer after they place purchases.
illustration of how dropshipping works
电子商务买家希望商品可准时送达和快速配送。许多在线零售企业使用亚马逊物流来提供亚马逊 Prime 配送服务,以满足买家的期望。


5. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

illustration of how FBA works
  • 正在寻找方法来节省时间、扩展业务
  • 需要针对库存仓储、配送和退货的端到端解决方案
  • 想要通过快速且免费的配送吸引买家
New sellers can qualify for over $50,000 in New Seller Incentives, including discounts on FBA inventory shipments, free storage, and other perks.




FBA compared to alternatives

Shipping with FBA costs 30% less per unit than standard shipping options offered by major US carriers and 70% less per unit than their premium options comparable to FBA.

You can use the Revenue Calculator to help determine whether Amazon’s fulfillment services could be a cost-effective option for your business compared to your own fulfillment or other scenarios.

You might also want to weigh how much time and effort a particular fulfillment method will require, how much control you want over the fulfillment process, and other factors to decide if FBA is right for your business.

What fulfillment option is right for you? We’ll do a deeper dive into some more considerations for different fulfillment types
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Did you know?

Supply Chain by Amazon automates logistics

Supply Chain by Amazon is a suite of automated services that helps sellers quickly and reliably ship products around the world.

How to choose a fulfillment method: 9 factors to consider

There are many considerations to take into account as you weigh what fulfillment options might be best for you. To start, think about the products you want to sell, where your audience is located, and what sales channels you want to use.

Depending on the scale of your operations and your plans for growth, use this quick reference list as a guide when evaluating vendors:
  1. What shipping and delivery times are available?
  2. What are the requirements for labeling and packaging?
  3. Do they offer automated replenishment or allow you to track supply levels?
  4. Do they have a notifications system?
  5. Can they process returns or provide customer service?
  6. Do they offer distributed warehousing?
  7. Can they handle international shipping for global selling?
  8. Do they provide subscription fulfillment?
  9. Can they bundle products?
Another important factor to consider is cost. Let’s turn to that next.



  • 自己控制库存
  • 使用自己的包裹或标签
  • 维持低利润率商品的利润空间




第三方物流 (3PL) 与直运有何不同?
第三方物流 (3PL) 服务在配送过程中充当中间人,是衔接卖家和买家的桥梁。卖家将库存发送至第三方物流配送服务,当买家购买商品时,第三方物流服务会配送订单。采用直运方式的卖家无需耗费精力处理库存事宜。卖家会向制造商或供应商创建订单,然后由制造商或供应商直接将商品配送给买家。除正常的配送服务外,亚马逊物流等电子商务配送服务还会提供储存和组装、分拣和包装、客户服务和退货等服务。


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