B2B eCommerce fulfillment ships products from business to business. The same fulfillment warehouse may provide both B2C and B2B fulfillment services. Your company may need both B2C and B2B fulfillment services. However, the process for each type of order fulfillment is quite different.
Here’s a guide to understanding B2B fulfillment.
B2B order fulfillment definition
B2B (business-to-business) order fulfillment is the process of shipping batch orders to businesses. The most common type of B2B fulfillment is shipping wholesale orders, which ship to retailers for resale to consumers. Some B2B warehouses operate more like distribution centers than traditional logistics companies.
Wholesale orders are just one part of B2B order fulfillment. Businesses may make bulk orders of supplies they need for their operations. This type of B2B order could be a corporate headquarters stocking up on bulk office supplies or a janitorial company buying cleaning supplies in bulk.
B2B 3PL lets you outsource a critical segment of your supply chain. Your B2B order fulfillment provider can handle the burdensome requirements of wholesale delivery like a pro. That gives you the confidence to pursue wholesale accounts with companies that can turn your business into a big success.
B2C order fulfillment definition
B2C (business-to-consumer) order fulfillment is what most people think of as eCommerce fulfillment, which ships order to retail customers. Both B2B and B2C start with shipping inventory to your fulfillment centers in bulk. B2C orders usually come in through your online retail store or eCommerce platforms. Your 3PL processes your B2C orders, shipping packages from the warehouse to your customers.
What are the distinctions between B2B and B2C fulfillment?
B2C fulfillment usually involves smaller packages and larger numbers of orders than business-to-business logistics. Most B2C fulfillment involves packages weighing 10 pounds or less because the most common consumer order weighs 1 pound or less. For B2B customers, you will generally ship bulk orders.
Most B2C orders ship by common carriers such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS while B2B orders typically ship via LTL (less than truckload) freight. Your fulfillment center may ship palletized products to your B2B customers.
ECommerce shipping is an integral part of B2C order fulfillment. Free shipping, in particular, helps boost retail sales. B2B customers, on the other hand, expect to pay for shipping. In B2B fulfillment, the cost of shipping per item is often lower than B2C shipping because you ship products in bulk.
But bulk shipping isn’t the only difference between B2B vs. B2C fulfillment. B2C packages get dropped off at a customer’s address, with or without a delivery signature, while B2B orders, particularly wholesale orders, are more complex.
When your 3PL ships a wholesale order to a retailer, that shipment must meet the retailer’s requirements. This could include finicky specifications for labeling, coding, and invoicing. Your B2B fulfillment warehouse needs to have the systems in place to meet these requirements. In addition, your wholesale clients may require your fulfillment to use EDI or Electronic Data Interchange. This is a system for the electronic transmission of business documents. Large retailers often use EDI to receive shipment documentation.
Large retailers are very strict about receiving. You may get charged a penalty or even have your shipment returned if it doesn’t follow the retailer’s protocols. If your eCommerce business ships wholesale orders to larger retailers, it’s vital to have a fulfillment partner that is set up to process these orders.
Does your eCommerce business need B2B logistics?
Does your eCommerce company need specialized B2B fulfillment? That depends on your customer mix. If you ship mostly to consumers, you probably need a traditional third-party logistics service.
Perhaps you ship a few wholesale orders a month to small shops. In that case, you might not need a warehouse that specializes in B2B fulfillment. Small stores aren’t likely to have strict inbound freight requirements like big-box retailers do. And, if your products are small, your wholesale orders can ship via a common carrier. In this case, your B2C fulfillment center can probably handle this B2B fulfillment.
You might need B2B fulfillment services if you ship LTL or full truckload (FTL) orders. And, once you land an account at a large retailer, you’ll need to develop a B2B fulfillment protocol. It’s essential to get the paperwork right — and costly to get it wrong. If your business plan includes selling to large chain stores, put your B2B fulfillment plan in place even if you don’t have those accounts yet. That way, you’ll be ready to jump in once you land a big wholesale account.
Wholesale eCommerce is a growing market. Many online retailers are adding online wholesale stores to more easily reach the wholesale market. While wholesale margins are lower, you make up for that with larger orders. A few successful wholesale accounts can give a significant boost to your bottom line. B2B sales generally require less customer service. Plus, a satisfied B2B customer will reorder regularly, saving you the sometimes-steep customer acquisition costs for retail customers.
Do you want to grow into the lucrative B2B market? Outsourced logistics companies help you take your business to the next level. In the long term, the effort to set yourself up for B2B fulfillment is a good investment in your business.
Finding the right B2B fulfillment company
Some fulfillment centers handle only B2C or B2B fulfillment while others can process both B2B and B2C shipments. When you’re choosing a logistics company, make sure it offers the fulfillment service or services you need. Errors in preparing B2B shipments can cost you money — you might even lose the big wholesale account you worked so hard to land.
At Red Stag Fulfillment, we primarily provide B2C order fulfillment, but we can offer B2B services for our clients. We can also palletize products and ship LTL freight. Red Stag Fulfillment works hard to find the most efficient and least expensive shipping options for every client. That includes freight services that deliver your B2B orders quickly and economically.
Additionally, we provide add-on fulfillment solutions that can help you meet the needs of your B2B customers. We offer kitting and light assembly, so we can customize orders for your wholesale or business clients. Red Stag Fulfillment also provides same-day shipping for B2B and B2C orders. We provide on-time delivery you can rely on and fulfillment solutions that will lead to greater customer satisfaction.
What shipping services do you need? Give Red Stag Fulfillment a call to discuss your options. We’d love to provide you with the excellent customer service we give all our clients, B2B and B2C alike.