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Fulfillment and the Effects of eBusiness on Fulfillment

The fulfillment requirements of a solution may vary considerably between B2B and B2C Implementations. B2B is likely to require large size deliveries to a limited number of locations, whereas B2C is likely to required small size deliveries to a large number of locations.

In considering the issues of eBusiness and fulfillment, two things are clear. The first is that shipping costs were (and remain) one of the greatest deterrents for online shoppers. The second is that eBusiness fulfillment and distribution is not suited to the traditional warehouse and distribution models.

Extended coverage: The first fulfillment issue to address is that of extended coverage. If the geographical coverage of the company is to be extended as a result of the eBusiness implementation, and the goods need to be physically delivered, then it may be necessary to establish an enhanced delivery service.

In-house fulfillment: Physical delivery might be accomplished in house. For established businesses, adapting order-taking to the web is not simple, but distribution may be easier than building new warehouses from scratch.

Outsourced fulfillment: Fulfillment may also be outsourced, particularly if international delivery is involved. It is often better to outsource this service, as they are likely to have more knowledge and experience in dealing with export and import regulations and procedures, particularly if exporting is new to the business.

Shipping and tax: Calculating shipping and tax is another fulfillment issue to be addressed. Who will offer this service? If tax is to be calculated, who will take responsibility for keeping the data, and for which locations are the calculations based, and kept up-to-date?

On time delivery: Once customers have selected and ordered their goods they will expect them to be delivered inside the timeframes quoted by the company. It is wise to temporarily extend quoted delivery times in the first few days of weeks of eBusiness launch and then aim to beat these. This way, if problems do occur, there is a buffer time in which to sort them out. and a pleasant surprise for the customer when the goods turn up earlier than anticipated.