by Alister Danks and Robert E. Mann
Whether it's flowers or flannel you're selling over the Internet - pay attention to the next online concept from Andersen Consulting - it could mean the difference between your having a dot-com business, or having it come to a full-stop
eFulfilment ranks right up there with other electronic commerce strategies - product development, marketing, and web-site design.
eFulfilment is the unique process of providing physical products for e-commerce customers which includes activities such as telemarketing operations, customer service, warehousing and shipping, procurement and inventory management, processing and disposition of returns.
Given that the majority of e-commerce businesses sell physical products, it is a process which can't be ignored.
eFulfilment activities represent most of the tangible assets of e-commerce companies. Essentially, it works much the same way as the distribution operations of catalogue marketers. Basic technologies and processes used by catalogue marketers work well for eFulfilment.
However, companies with experience in traditional one-to-one shipping encounter subtle but significant differences as they move into eFulfilment.
First, e-commerce customers expect speed and service reliability that is above the level typically offered by catalogues.
Second, customers expect inventory to be available and order status to be visible and accurate.
Third, to obtain this level of performance, organisations must integrate web-based customer systems with more traditional order processing and warehouse management systems.
Fourth, the one constant in e-commerce is rapid change: products, customers, markets, services can change overnight and thus require different processes.
Challenges and assumptions