Fulfilling online orders

Physical delivery of goods


Delivering customer orders quickly and efficiently is vital to any e-commerce service. Delivering what you promised relies on communication between your business processes and fulfilment service.

For those products requiring a physical delivery, you should consider both:

  • logistics
  • technology 

Distribution channels

Distribution channel options include sending the goods from:

  • your own business to your customer
  • a local warehouse to your customer
  • national distribution centres to your customers
  • digital distribution

For businesses selling small numbers of small items, using postal or courier services is likely to work well. Outsourcing the delivery of goods may also be affordable.

Linking processes and tracking goods

Linking processes and tracking orders allow you to predict delivery times earlier on. Thi lets you keep customers updated on where their goods are and improve your service.

You can achieve this through a single, shared database. Ensure you train your staff keep it up to date at all stages of the process. If you outsource your delivery requirements, many logistics companies offer delivery tracking as part of their service, which you can use to advise customers.

More refined ways of doing this include:

  • Enterprise resource planning software, which combines product planning, parts purchasing, maintaining inventories and tracking orders into one system.
  • Radio frequency identification (RFID) - this involves tagging objects so that they can be tracked. RFID tags can be read by equipment, at a range of around 6 metres to 30 metres or more, depending whether they are passive or active tags. While the reading range of passive tags is less, they are considerably less expensive - they also don't use battery power like active tags - and can be disposed of with the product packaging.

Handling customer returns

Customers may want to return goods they have bought online. Some products may be faulty or damaged. 

You must be able to handle returns. This should include giving the customer the option to either:

  • get a replacement item 
  • have their money refunded 

You should have a process in place to provide either option. Read more about customer protection.

It is important that your business monitors returns. Find out common reasons customers want returns and refunds so you can address issues.  A customer relationship management system can help you do this.