Ecommerce Fulfillment: A Brief History

Looking back, it is difficult to believe just how much the Internet has changed the way the world does business. Businesses did not begin experimenting with online ordering and payment systems until the early 1990’s, and in just 20 years, ecommerce has become one of the most important factors in the global economy. Ecommerce fulfillment, the power behind a company’s ability to ship out items to any customer in the world in a matter of days, is a fascinating topic yet one that the average customer rarely considers. Here’s a brief summary of how this previously nonexistent industry has become an essential part of both B2C and B2B activities.

Security Concerns

In the beginning years of ecommerce fulfillment, information security was a serious concern. As with any new technology, there were criminal individuals and organizations ready to take advantage of the gaps in security, stealing personal and financial information that was exposed to the public and setting up fraudulent online stores in an attempt to get people to send information directly to them. Although identity theft is still a major threat today and online shoppers have the responsibility to be wary about where and how they submit personal information, ecommerce is no longer, in general, a risky endeavor.

The Big Ecommerce Fulfillment Player

No history of ecommerce fulfillment would be complete without mentioning the company that has been at the forefront of its development from its inception in the 1990’s: Amazon. When opened for business, shoppers found mainly books for sale, but today that’s just one sector of the company’s massive catalog. From clothing to food to yard tools, Amazon sells nearly any product that can be shipped to a customer’s front door. This expansion of products and services could never have happened without an associated growth in ecommerce fulfillment technology. Multiple fulfillment centers around the world are filled with millions of diverse products, each one carefully inventoried and linked with the ecommerce sales system so that customers know ahead of time how long it will take for their purchase to be shipped. The Amazon fulfillment machine is so efficient that the company now offers same-day delivery on in-stock products in nine U.S. markets.

Business-to-Business Ecommerce Fulfillment

While business-to-consumer, or B2C, fulfillment services are the most visible, business-to-business, or B2B, fulfillment has also impacted the economy in an unprecedented way. The efficiency of a fully stocked warehouse and on-demand production facility, supported by an advanced digital inventory system, gives even very large national companies the flexibility to supply their clients and retail stores with a wide range of marketing products. Shipping seasonal sales campaign banners, signs, promotional items, incentives, and other items to different locations is now a far quicker, simpler process than it has ever been before. Through online storefronts that closely resemble the B2C retail websites most people are familiar with, sales representatives can pull from a large catalog of products, assembling a custom kit of materials and ordering it for quick delivery.

Third-Party Fulfillment Services

Few companies have the resources to build, stock, staff, and maintain a professional ecommerce fulfillment center, much less a printing facility capable of producing high quality graphics for marketing campaigns. Instead, the third-party fulfillment system has become very popular with companies looking to provide convenient B2B fulfillment services with minimal additional infrastructure. This type of fulfillment continues to improve today, as third-party fulfillment companies develop more efficient ways for clients to communicate with their fulfillment partners through online portals. The entire fulfillment chain, from initial graphic design submissions to the final shipping of customized kits to end users, can be incredibly efficient in the hands of an experienced, dedicated fulfillment company.

Spectra Integration is committed to making fulfillment a driver of growth for each of its clients. The limitations of handling fulfillment in-house often prevent companies from reaching their full potential, delaying shipment and even wasting materials that are stocked incorrectly. Working with a third-party company, on the other hand, unlocks the power that decades of advancement in the field has made possible. If you are interested in learning how Spectra Integration uses streamlined, secure online portals and state-of-the-art inventory systems to serve its fulfillment clients, please get in touch with us today.

The shopping cart is now a familiar ecommerce icon around the world.