E-commerce is a burgeoning industry with lots of potential for growth. In the wake of the pandemic, new avenues for e-commerce growth are opening up in every industry, from retail to automotive sales. E-commerce is also a profitable option for businesses everywhere. Startup costs can be as low as you like, and for online retailers, the cost of order fulfillment is only around 70% of the average order value. That leaves plenty of room to build your business while raking in healthy profit margins.
While e-commerce is on the rise, so is competition within the industry. In order to stand out in a sea of e-commerce vendors, you’ll need to provide customers with some kind of product differentiation or unique selling point. Most importantly, however, you’ll need to demonstrate through streamlined, accessible business processes that you’re a dependable and trustworthy company.
Without the ability to accurately track orders and inventory, your e-commerce business could be left in the dust. That’s when order fulfillment companies enter the scene, allowing you to manage your inventory and shipments in one single location. In this guide to the top fulfillment software and solutions for small businesses, we’ll define fulfillment software and provide you with a list of the best fulfillment software options for 2021. We’ll then explore major features to look for when searching for a software solution, so that you can be confident you’re choosing the right fulfillment software for your business.
What is Fulfillment Software?
Fulfillment software is designed to automate key aspects of your business processes. From warehouse inventory to shipping status, it’s important to have a birds-eye overview of exactly how your orders are being managed. Order fulfillment software does just that, giving you access to tools like:
- Inventory management
- Order processing
- Shipment tracking
With an order fulfillment system, your team will be more able to fulfill the customer’s expectations and ensure a smooth order process. No software is perfect, but order fulfillment software can help eliminate human error while avoiding tedious manual processes—not to mention the time and money this saves your business.
Depending on the sophistication of your fulfillment software, you may also choose to integrate the software with other aspects of your e-commerce business to facilitate the sales and shipping processes. Of course, the benefits of order fulfillment software are also many, from the way it lends itself to remote work to how it improves your customer service. In the next section, we’ll look at some of the best fulfillment companies of the year for small businesses.
Comparison of Major Fulfillment Software Vendors
|Customer portal||International shipping available||Third-party integrations available||Real-time updates||Dropshipping available||Mobile app available|
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The Best Fulfillment Software of 2021
We’ve compiled this list of five of the top fulfillment software on the market today, so you can gain a better understanding of their features before deciding on the best option for your business:
Da Vinci Supply Chain Business Suite: Best for versatility & customization
For over 20 years, Da Vinci Supply Chain Business Suite has offered third-party logistical solutions, from optimized billing processes to order and transportation management. Da Vinci is our top pick for versatility and customization, perfect for use across multiple warehouses and customer profiles. With Da Vinci, it’s also easy to create custom orders for a reasonable price.
Customer support is reportedly helpful, and live representatives are available 24/7, a bonus for any software subscription plan. A tutorial section and enhanced tech support make it easy for your business to get Da Vinci’s software off the ground as well.
One downside to the expansiveness of Da Vinci’s order fulfillment software is that there are so many functions, it takes some users years to learn they can automate a particular task. Da Vinci can be technically challenging if you plan to take full advantage of its software features, but an IT specialist or one of the platform’s support team members can help you navigate the process.
Da Vinci offers three main pricing option tiers, with the lowest tier, Small Business Edition, starting at $8,960/year. The middle-tiered plan comes in at $21,480/year for the Warehouse Edition. The highest level, the Enterprise Edition, starts at $47,760/year and comes equipped with the complete suite of functionality.
BizAutomation: Best all-in-one business management solution
With an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) system and Google Workspace integration, BizAutomation is a good option for businesses looking to center most of their operations in one convenient location. Pricing plans are affordable and the platform offers a comprehensive set of features for your business needs, including managing sales bids, accounting, and supporting your preferred shipping carriers.
User reviews describe the software as a game-changer, although implementation may be a tedious process. BizAutomation’s video tutorials and constant updates can help guide you through the process and stay abreast of the latest developments on the platform. Pricing does begin with a five-user minimum, so if you’re a smaller operation, it’s best to make sure you’ll make full use of the lowest tier plan before taking the plunge.
With BizAutomation, you can expect to pay $79.95 per full user per month and $24.95 per partial user per month. If you sign up for a Business Portal account, you can expect to pay $99.95/month per 10 login accounts, with a minimum of five full users. BizAutomation also offers several add-ons for your e-commerce business. You’ll need to purchase their third-party app connector ($195/month) and shipping connector ($59/month) if you wish to make use of those essential fulfillment software features.
ZohoInventory: Best overall for order fulfillment
For an inexpensive option with an easy-to-use interface, look to ZohoInventory. Its free plan comes with limited automation features but is an excellent launching point for business inventory management. When you sign up for a paid plan, you’re guaranteed access to two hours of complimentary setup assistance.
All in all, ZohoInventory offers over 60 add-ons and integrations, in addition to basic features like barcoding, labeling, and sales activity. On your dashboard, you’ll have access to all sales and inventory information in a user-friendly format. Zoho also offers a variety of pricing plans to suit any budget. Unfortunately, the software doesn’t provide unlimited shipping or order options, which could be a huge drawback for some businesses. But its user-friendliness and capabilities that extend beyond order fulfillment itself earn ZohoInventory a place at the top of our list.
ZohoInventory comes with a free plan that allows for up to two users and 50 orders a month, making it a great way for small businesses to get a head start on inventory and order management. If you want access to additional volume levels and capabilities, their Standard plan comes in at $79/month, Professional plan at $129/month, Premium at $199/month, and Elite at $299/month. Discounts are available when you buy an annual subscription.
Fishbowl Inventory: Best for inventory management
Packed to the brim with integrations (including QuickBooks, UPS, and FedEx) and shopping carts and credit cards, Fishbowl Inventory is a fail-safe way of automating your order fulfillment workflow. The platform aims to eliminate data entry errors while improving system processes through automated real-time delivery updates and work order creations.
With stellar inventory tracking functions, Fishbowl is an excellent tool for improving inventory management efficiency. It’s important to note that the software is priced differently than its competitors on this list, as it determines price based on the number of user licenses issued and a one-time software fee. If you prefer to shy away from monthly or annual subscription fees, Fishbowl could present a good pricing alternative. You’ll need to contact the company directly to obtain a quote tailored to your business needs.
Fishbowl sells its software licenses on a non-expiring basis rather than requesting recurring monthly payments. The cost of the software itself starts at $4,395, which comes with permanent software ownership and unlimited users. You also have the option of renewing annually to receive access to updates and customer support, but even if you choose not to, you’ll permanently have access to the software.
Ordoro: Best for automation
Ordoro runs on automation, using the technology to tag items, streamline shipping, and optimize your business’s overall workflow. Ordoro’s higher-level plans will probably surpass the budget of most smaller organizations, but even its basic plans come with a robust features offering. The software also offers perks like batch label printing, discounted USPS shipping rates, and other reduced fees.
Because of its automation capabilities, Ordoro is a great option to simplify your labeling and shipping processes. Dropshipping is available as well. Ordoro serves as a comprehensive dropshipping software and inventory management platform, rounded out with an exceptional features list. Before deciding on an Ordoro plan for your business, however, you’d be wise to ensure the Express plan can handle your business needs; Ordoro’s Pro and Enterprise plans are widely regarded as being overpriced.
Ordoro runs using a “flex pricing” model, wherein users are charged for actual usage of the platform rather than paying a flat monthly fee. Ordoro’s Express plan usually costs $59 per month, but options like the current holiday promo allow you to save big on this lower-tier option. Prices for Ordoro’s Pro plan start at $499/month, while Enterprise plan pricing begins at $999/month.
Major features of fulfillment software
When deciding on the best fulfillment software for your business, you don’t want to miss out on any must-have features. Here are some of the major features of fulfillment software:
Managing stock levels is one of the biggest challenges faced by e-commerce merchants. When your order fulfillment and inventory management solutions are housed on a single dashboard, you’re able to gain an accurate overview of your inventory levels in real time. Not only does this make order processing simpler, but it also removes the need for manual entry and improves customer satisfaction. Your customers will also have a clear idea of whether or not a desired item is available or out of stock, so they can adjust their shopping habits accordingly.
As we’ve just discussed, order management is the kingpin of any e-commerce business. A comprehensive order management system should allow you and your team to view each incoming order by channel, search and edit orders, and track orders. Shipping update capabilities, customer return acceptance, and customer data are also managed underneath the umbrella of order management. It’s important for your business to have a complete, end-to-end order management system for maximum organizational efficiency.
One of the perks of fulfillment software is that it does most of the work for you. If issues that require manual attention do arise, however, any top-tier fulfillment software will notify you of the situation. For example, when inventory is out of stock or there are system errors, you want to know immediately, so you can catch the problem before your customers do. When you’re able to set alerts for low inventory levels or keep your customers updated on order status, it’ll make your business run that much more smoothly.
If you want to grow and streamline your business, you don’t want to be wasting time and labor on tasks that can easily be automated. However, not all fulfillment companies provide automation services in their basic packages, so it’s a good idea to perform a little extra research in this area. Automated fulfillment software allows you to speed up the process of printing packing slips, invoices, shipping labels, and more. As your company grows, the benefit of automation will become indispensable, saving you time and money while reducing the likelihood of errors.
Of course, these four features aren’t the only ones on offer from the major fulfillment software platforms. They’re simply some of the best and biggest—musts if you’re looking to expand a burgeoning e-commerce endeavor. Some of the additional features you may want to consider in your search include:
- Direct connections to shipping partners like USPS, UPS, and FedEx
- Omni-channel fulfillment and return options
- A customer portal
- Easy ways to send in returns and obtain credit
- Support for larger operations and multiple warehouses
Choosing the right fulfillment software for your business
There are dozens of fulfillment software solutions that claim to streamline order and inventory management, but which option is right for your business? There are a number of factors to consider, from the number of integrations your business requires to the size of your customer base to the software complexity that best suits your organization.
For instance, more complex software could work better for organizations with a dedicated IT team that is constantly using the platform. Other solutions are more modest and easy to use, offering better returns for smaller, less tech-savvy customers. It’s also worth debating which features are most important to you. Do you prioritize dropshipping capabilities or integrations? How about automation and notifications? And of course, price is always an important determining factor.
The e-commerce market is exploding, and now’s the time to get ahead of the competition. One of the most effective ways of setting your business apart from the rest is to improve your back-end processes by implementing an order fulfillment solution. Believe it or not, customers on the front end will be quick to notice improved service and functionality. Plus, adopting a new order fulfillment software solution will get you ahead of the curve when it comes to managing your warehouse and retail operations.