Setting up in e-commerce with a fulfilment partner: the basics

April 7, 2014

E-commerce can be a very rewarding, efficient way to do business, but you have to organise properly if you want to get ahead. Most ‘e-tailers’ or ecommerce sellers prefer to begin with the help of an experienced warehousing, distribution and fulfilment partner who can handle the whole ‘back end’ of the operation, while the merchant focuses on business and sales, maintaining the website, and any other sales channels that they have developed.

So what’s involved with starting an e-commerce business?

Your suppliers

 Whether you buy completed products or you being in raw or finished materials and produce the products yourself, you have a list of suppliers who provide your products and materials. If you deal in finished products, you can have them delivered directly to your warehousing and distribution partner, who will make them ready to be sent to the customers. If you do some or all of the manufacture yourself, you’ll need both materials and finished goods storage, and more transport options.


Once you’ve sorted your suppliers out, you need to determine just how much finished stock you should keep on hand to fulfil your orders. Most start-ups will adopt a ‘pull strategy’, where inventory levels are responsive to demand. This is especially useful in the early days, when demand is hardest to predict. Your warehousing partner will receive and store your stock, and keep you apprised of current stock levels, as well as your supply relative to current demand.


Your packaging is important, not just for transport and delivery, but for brand identification and marketing. You will need to make this available to your W&D partner, unless you do your own package finishing.


 Your fulfilment and distribution partner will handle the day-to-day aspects of transportation, but there are many choices to make. Delivery methods, shipping charges and many other variables will change depending on exactly what your product is, and what your sales volumes are. Your logistics partner can help you make these decisions.

Sales Channels

Will your orders come from your own ecommerce website? From eBay or Amazon? Multi-channel ecommerce is important, and it is just as important to work out where your orders will be coming from with your warehousing and distribution partner early, so they can provide services best customised to your needs. Orders may go through you to your fulfilment provider, or they may go directly to the provider.

Customer Service

Fast and accurate order fulfilment is important, but exceptional customer service is not to be ignored either. Happy customers are return customers, after all.

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