How it Works! e-Commerce Order Fulfillment Information Flow
Seamless Integration Between Your e-Commerce Site and Fulfillment Provider
Modern order fulfillment is characterized by a high tech process that is designed to accurately and efficiently pick, package and ship an order in a very short amount of time. In fact, TAGG, as many of today’s modern fulfillment providers, fulfills it’s client’s e-commerce orders the same day. This process is only made possible when the various systems are working together in a seamless environment.
A customer needing their Vitamin B supplement goes to their favorite e-commerce site, picks out a supplement and proceeds to the shopping cart. Here, vital information regarding the customer is received – who they are, what they ordered, address, shipping method, etc. and payment is processed. At this point, the order needs to be fulfilled – the supplement bottle needs to be picked, packaged and shipped.
While there are countless variations of what happens next, I will focus on the typical process TAGG’s order fulfillment uses. Once payment has cleared, an order number is generated and a confirmation is sent from the e-commerce site to the customer. We all have gotten it; “Thank you for your order of….. Your order number is…. We will let you know when it ships….” At the same time, this supplement order is sent to the fulfillment provider. Here again, there are a variety of ways TAGG receives these, from a live XML feed to batched in a CSV file. A third party order fulfillment provider should be good at receiving orders in a variety of formats. Because TAGG works with so many e-commerce sites, we have a middle-ware whose purpose is to take order files from a variety of formats and convert them into the format in which our Warehouse Management System (WMS) can use. The information is the same, name, address, order number, items ordered, etc… but each shopping cart might have subtle differences. The fulfillment center imports this data and uses it to pick package and ship the order.
Now that Vitamin B supplement is in the capable hands of the USPS, FedEX or UPS but the information flow is not over. In fact, now the process happens in reverse. The fulfillment provider needs to tell the e-commerce site that the order has shipped and relay the tracking number. A file gets exported from the WMS back to the shopping cart in much the same manner as it was sent to TAGG in the first place. In most cases, our clients then send an e-mail…we have all gotten it; “Thank you for your order of…. Your order has shipped! The tracking number is…. You might also want to try our Vitamin E supplement….” When we go on-line to buy a product, the reason we get two e-mails and delay we get between the order confirmation e-mail and the order shipment e-mail is the result of this two-way flow of information between the e-commerce site and the order fulfillment provider.
All of this typically happens in real time and shipping at TAGG is mostly same day. So if I ordered that supplement at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, once that order clears payment, it is sent to TAGG either immediately or in a batch of orders. We receive it and it hits a picker’s scanner in our warehouse. It is picked, packaged and when a shipping label is printed, a tracking number is generated. Then it is put on a feeder truck to be pulled for USPS, FedEX or UPS that evening. Then our system takes that order, along with all the other supplement e-commerce orders and sends the file back to our client. All same day!
Again, there are many possible variations to this process and at TAGG, we work with each client to customize the information flow to fit their needs. However, the important pieces are always the same; information needs to flow seamlessly between the separate technology systems and that information needs to be accurately preserved and transmitted.