The Ultimate Guide to B2B Fulfilment
What is B2B fulfilment and how does it work?
B2B fulfilment is when one business holds and delivers stock for another business. The process includes a fulfilment provider storing, picking, packaging and shipping customers’ products back to their businesses, with a range of operations in place to help customers resell to their customers in a cost-effective and efficient process.
What is the role of a 3PL in B2B fulfilment?
A 3PL/fulfilment provider can offer you the warehousing space that your business needs to effectively store and distribute your products to customers. This can cut the operational costs of managing your products yourself, saving unnecessary waste of money and resources. As well as this, a fulfilment provider will consolidate your orders, manage your inventory levels and monitor stock rotation through an automated warehouse management system (WMS). This system includes real-time visibility of your inventory, orders & deliveries allowing you to determine trends and prepare for peak seasons without the chance of running out of stock.
What should you look for in a B2B fulfilment service?
An effective B2B fulfilment provider has years of experience handling and distributing products that relate to your business’s needs. When looking for a provider it is important to consider the scale at which you want your business to grow and if a provider has the correct tools and services to accommodate an increased order volume. If your business is expanding or you want to expand, find a provider that can transport your products to multiple warehousing locations across the UK or globally while being able to maintain an efficient order management process. You should also take into consideration if the provider has enough warehousing space that can be customised to cater for your products and provide optimal operations. Customer service is vital in B2B fulfilment, your provider should be able to work collaboratively together with you to help produce the most efficient process for your business. As well as this, having real-time visibility of your products through a WMS reduces order errors and improves your customer satisfaction.
What typical services do providers offer?
- Warehousing and Storage
- Customised order processing and management
- Inventory Management
- Reverse Logistics
What is the difference between B2B and B2C?
B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) fulfilment have different approaches to meeting customer expectations and requirements. These can be determined from the following things:
For B2B the process of fulfilment involves selling products or services to another business. Typical customers are usually other businesses, retailers or wholesalers. This means customers are more likely to make large repeat purchases for a niche market.
B2C fulfilment sells to individual consumers and has a lower chance of a repeat purchase being made. Compared to B2B, B2C products and services are given directly to customers for personal use.
Size and volume of stock
B2B involves large, complex orders being placed by businesses to meet their operational needs or prepare stock for the resale of products. The order volume is usually completed in a regular pattern of bulk orders as more items need to be required at once.
B2C fulfilment is used to serve individual customers who make small purchases, more orders are placed at a higher volume to cater for customers who are purchasing products for personal use. Compared to B2B the frequency of products moving in and out of a warehouse can depend on consumer demand due to peak seasons and trending items.
The relationship between B2B customers and the provider requires a stronger relationship than B2C. More direct communication and support are needed to help the process of order management and distribution of products. Each process is completely customised for each customer with ongoing negotiations to reach the expectations of consumers.
B2C fulfilment differs from B2B as it is a transactional relationship with customers and requires little to no contact with another business. Customers may choose to buy from the business again but there are no ties to maintaining a relationship with the company.
Regulations and order complexity
There are more regulations and rules put in place for B2B interactions, these rules must be in place to maintain a seamless management process of stock and its distribution. The complexity of B2B fulfilment means more configurations are used to adhere to buyers’ standards. This may include incorporating barcodes, additional documentation or other specialised packaging.
Because B2C orders are usually singular items, order tracking and international orders can be delivered to customers quicker this means there isn’t much complexity to completing an order, although they usually require consumer-friendly packaging.
Shipping and delivery
Although most B2B fulfilment providers optimise their processes to save cost and time, it can be more challenging for the shipment and delivery of products as the orders are larger and size and usually moved in pallets. Following this, more specialised shipping and delivery options are in place to transport items to a customer.
B2C differentiates from B2B due to the speed at which consumers expect delivery times to be. Customers expect next-day delivery or standard shipping which is a quicker delivery time than B2B. This only changes during peak seasons at which the demand for certain types of products increases.
B2B fulfilment accommodates for large and complex orders to be picked, packed and shipped. The costs of this are usually higher than B2C due to the costs of processing and fulfilling the orders. However, B2B fulfilment has no set price and is based on the requirements of the business and the amount of stock they have.
With lower quantities of products being ordered than B2B, B2C fulfilment has less extensive inventory operations which means lower costs are associated with the price of product movement. Most B2C product distributions have set pricing for customers disregarding peak season periods allowing costs to lower.
What services can Elanders offer me?
At Elanders (and Bergen Logistics) we are equipped with 25 years of experience shipping thousands of orders locally and globally. We are trusted by major brands in handling and distributing their products in and out of our warehouses situated in the UK, USA, Europe, China and more. Our global presence makes us the ideal partner for importing and exporting worldwide and we can provide your business with the necessary infrastructure and resources needed to accommodate your business for continued growth.
Transparency for customers is a top priority and with our robust cloud-based WMS, we can give you a 24/7 overview of your orders, stock and shipping of products allowing you to regularly monitor your products, prevent stockouts and streamline operations. Elanders’ retail distribution solution automates the fulfilment of B2B orders from wholesale and retail partners and ships your inventory to retailers that either fulfil orders for their end customers or feature your products in their shop locations. Elanders is currently connected to retailers such as John Lewis, Boots & TK Maxx.
Furthermore, we can be an all-in-one service for customers and tailor our service to meet your business needs, alleviating added stress so you can focus on your core business. Our returns management process allows us to handle your products with minimal disruption, we also have several security measures in place to ensure products stored in our warehouse are protected and handled with care. You will also have a dedicated account manager who will handle any problems or queries you may have about products and their status within our facilities.
Time to outsource your B2B fulfilment?
If you think the time is right to outsource your B2B fulfilment, then speak to us today.
With 100 global locations in 20 countries and advanced fulfilment technologies, eco friendly shipping options and a roster of happy customers, Elanders and Bergen are ideally placed to take your B2B fulfilment to the next level