1. The English term ‘fulfilment’ means execution, essentially.
In both German and international language usage, it is synonymous with a variety of services that a provider gives to the end customer on behalf of the manufacturer. In online trading or e-commerce, it is referred to as e-fulfilment or e-commerce fulfilment.
2. Fulfilment is close to the customer.
In the supply chain, fulfilment is at the end of the line and is the last stage before a product reaches a consumer’s hands or home. E-commerce fulfilment is part of the operation that delivers goods that are ordered online from the customer. It includes storing products, order picking and packing, and ultimately, the delivery of the order to the customer.
3. The terms warehouse and fulfilment centre are often used interchangeably but can have very different meanings.
A warehousing solution refers to a company that stores products for an extended period of time. A warehouse is a large storage centre or industrial space designed to house inventory in bulk. Some warehousing providers gear more towards wholesale or B2B e-commerce orders in huge quantities. Others are more geared towards smaller e-commerce sellers who may choose to rent more cost-effective spaces like lockers or inventory storage units.
On the other hand, a fulfilment centre is a physical location from which a third-party logistics provider (also known as a fulfilment provider) fulfils customer orders for e-commerce retailers. A fulfilment centre exists in order to get online orders to customers in a timely fashion and relieve e-commerce companies from this process.
4. Fulfilment service providers may also be responsible for order processing, shipping and transportation, and returns.
Once an order is received, the warehouse staff will pick the correct items off the shelves and pass them to the packing area. The packing process usually requires a series of quality control checks including scanning each item, placing it in the correct packaging, adding packing slips and other documentation, sealing the other and arranging shipping.
Once the order is ready to be shipped, the fulfilment service provider will use a range of shipping providers to dispatch the order to the customer in the required time. Once the product reaches the customer, if there are any returns that occur, the fulfilment service provider will also arrange the return, exchange and/or refund process.
5. Fulfilment service providers are subject to the market surveillance regulation law in Europe.
As of 16th July 2021, fulfilment service providers are now considered economic operators in Europe. This means that where there is no physical presence of the company in the EU, an Authorised Representative must be appointed to take on the obligations of the Market Surveillance Regulation. Otherwise, the relevant product may not be offered for sale on the EU market and customs authorities may prevent the product from being sold in the EU.
The obligations of an economic operator under the new regulation help to ensure that the market surveillance authorities have access to the necessary information on the compliance of the products.