Navigating & Understanding B2B Order Fulfillment

Allison Champion
4 min read
June 21, 2023

While many ecommerce brands focus on order fulfillment directly to the consumer, there’s another aspect of fulfillment that some brands overlook: B2B fulfillment. This article will look at the differences between B2B and B2C fulfillment service, B2B order fulfillment best practices, and how partnering with an outsourced fulfillment partner can help.

What Is B2B Fulfillment?

B2B fulfillment refers to the process of fulfilling orders for businesses selling products or services to other businesses (B2B) rather than directly to consumers (B2C). In B2B fulfillment, the customers are usually other businesses, such as retailers, wholesalers, or distributors, who purchase products in bulk for resale or use in their own operations.

Key Differences Between B2B vs B2C Order Fulfillment

While B2C order fulfillment generally focuses on smaller, frequent orders, B2B focuses on larger orders to entities like warehousing partners.


Order Quantity and Size

B2B orders are typically larger in volume than B2C orders, as businesses often purchase products in bulk. This means that B2B fulfillment requires larger warehouses and more advanced logistics technology to handle the larger order volumes and more complex order management and order processing.

Warehousing and Inventory Management

B2B ecommerce orders are often more complex than B2C orders, as they may involve multiple products, SKUs, or shipping destinations. B2B fulfillment providers need to have the capability to manage these complex orders in the warehouse and ensure that they are delivered accurately and on time. Having a real-time view into inventory is critical to order management and shipping out accurate and complete orders.

Shipping and Delivery Considerations

B2C customers often expect fast shipping times, while B2B customers may be more willing to accept longer lead times if it means getting a better price or more customized product. B2B fulfillment service providers need to be able to balance speed and cost-effectiveness to meet the needs of their customers.

Customer Support and Relationship Management

B2C customers often require more customer support than B2B ecommerce customers, as they may have questions about product features, returns, or warranties. B2B customers may have more specialized needs, such as technical support or account management. B2B fulfillment providers need to be able to provide the appropriate level of customer support to meet the needs of their customers.

B2B Fulfillment Processes and Best Practices

Creating an efficient fulfillment process using best practices ensures that brands can process B2B orders accurately and efficiently. We’ll take a look at the steps in the B2B fulfillment process and how brands can use best practices to optimize each step.

Order Processing and Management

Just like with B2C, B2B fulfillment begins with order processing. This involves receiving and validating orders, checking inventory levels, and verifying payment and shipping information. B2B fulfillment providers should have systems in place to streamline the order processing process and ensure that orders are processed accurately and efficiently.

Inventory Management and Storage

B2B fulfillment requires effective product inventory management to ensure that products are available when customers need them. This can be even more important for B2B customers, who generally place larger orders than B2C customers. Brands need to have an accurate view of inventory to make sure they can fulfill an order of 200 items or 2,000. This involves tracking inventory levels, managing stock levels, and optimizing storage space to minimize inventory costs.

Picking, Packing, and Shipping

B2B orders involve picking and packing multiple SKUs or products, which can be complex and time-consuming. B2B fulfillment providers should have efficient pick and pack processes in place to minimize errors and reduce order fulfillment times. 

Returns and Reverse Logistics

B2B customers may require specialized returns management processes, such as return merchandise authorizations, restocking fees, or product inspections. B2B fulfillment providers should have the capability to handle these returns processes efficiently and accurately. Establishing a streamlined returns management process will help improve customer retention for brands across all different industries.

Technology and Automation in B2B Fulfillment

Because the B2B orders are generally larger and more complex than B2C orders, using technology and automation can be a huge benefit to brands. If a brand works with a B2B fulfillment partner, ensuring that they have the right technology to track B2B orders is critical.

The Role of Third-Party Fulfillment Companies like Flowspace

What is a 3PL? Third-party logistics and fulfillment companies like Flowspace play an important role in B2B fulfillment by providing a range of services to help brands manage their order fulfillment processes.

Expertise in B2B Fulfillment Operations

Third-party fulfillment companies like Flowspace have specialized expertise and knowledge of fulfillment best practices, which can help brands improve their order fulfillment processes and reduce errors and costs.

Scalability and Flexibility

Third-party fulfillment partners provide brands with the ability to scale their operations quickly and efficiently to meet changing demand. This can help brands avoid the costs and risks associated with in-house fulfillment, like building and managing their own warehouses and fulfillment operations.

3PLs also allow a brand to offer a range of fulfillment options, such as same-day shipping, next-day shipping, and customized packaging and labeling, which can help brands meet the specific needs of their B2B customers.

Advanced Technology and Integration Capabilities

Third-party fulfillment companies like Flowspace have access to advanced technology and systems that can help brands streamline their order fulfillment processes and improve efficiency and accuracy.

Cost Savings and Efficiency Improvements

All of these benefits can help brands reduce their fulfillment costs and improve their supply chain KPIs by leveraging economies of scale and reducing waste and inefficiencies.

Find out how to work with Flowspace for B2B fulfillment. Get in touch today.

Written By:

flowspace author Allison Champion

Allison Champion

Allison Champion leads marketing communication at Flowspace, where she works to develop content that addresses the unique challenges facing modern brands in omnichannel eCommerce. She has more than a decade of experience in content development and marketing.

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