Fulfillment (Allocation and Shipping)

When a sales order containing physical items (including kits or assemblies) is approved, it enters the allocation process, which is handled by an automated job that runs on a user-defined schedule. This process assigns order items to fulfillment sites based on customizable business rules. Site resources then prepare the items for shipment or customer pickup.

Note: Multi-threaded processing is enabled (by default) using bucket allocation to improve allocation performance while preventing collision of orders with conflicting items. This multi-threading increases the speed and volume of orders that can be processed, while ensuring concurrency protection to prevent the duplication of shipping orders.

One or more shipping orders are created from the sales order, and items are allocated to them from inventory or via purchase order, as appropriate.

Fulfillment Sites

Fulfillment sites are locations such as warehouses, distribution centers, retail stores, drop-ship vendors, or virtual sites that house inventory or provide items.

Order Management supports configurable rules for fulfillment site availability. Availability refers to the days and hours when a site can accept an allocated shipping order. These rules can be set at the company and site level, with site-level settings overriding company-level settings for specific sites. You can configure site-level availability for a site for certain days, and it will use the company-level hours for days not set at the site level. For example, a site that is closed on Sundays could have a site-level configuration that simply removes Sundays from the configuration for that site, using company-level settings for other days, or a site with unusual working hours could have its entire availability defined at the site level.

You can assign start and end dates to availability rules. For example, you can define a rule based on temporary temporary holiday season store hours.

Use Fulfillment Site Manager to configure site-level shipping availability hours. See Company shipping hours for information on configuring company-level shipping hours.

Example:

A company-level availability rule sets available hours to 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. A site that doesn't have defined site-level availability rules will be available at those times.

Examples of rules that override this default include the following:

Allocation

Allocation is the process of assigning physical product items from inventory to shipping orders and then fulfilling each shipping order from the appropriate fulfillment site, such as a retail store, warehouse, virtual site, or drop-ship vendor. Order Management enables merchants to manage how item inventory is allocated. For example, if the fulfillment site for an order is a retail store, it can enable in-store pickup, eliminating the shipping process and costs for the customer.

You can set up business rules that control how inventory items are allocated from sites to shipping orders based on parameters such as geography, shipping methods, and the items and orders attributes. Do this by configuring multiple allocation jobs to handle different business scenarios.

These include site ranking rules, which prioritize how items in an order are fulfilled, as well as site- and company-level availability rules.

If you are using Retail Center, then you can also configure expiration rules that re-allocate unshipped items after a certain period of time has elapsed. These are set in the Retail Center Provider settings, but apply to all fulfillment sites. The expiration rules ignore times when a site isn't available. For example, if the expiration timer is 10 minutes, and a shipping order is allocated to an unavailable site that will become available in 7 hours, then the order will not be reallocated to a different site until 7 hours and 10 minutes have elapsed.

Note: Expiration rules apply only to orders that will be shipped, not to customer pickup orders.

Shipping

A single sales order can generate multiple shipping orders when its items have different shipping addresses or dates (for example, when some Items are backordered and others are ready for immediate shipment). Also, you can configure Order Management to automatically combine multiple sales orders into a single shipping order when appropriate (for example, when a customer places multiple orders with the same shipping address and items are available to be shipped at the same time from the same site).

When a shipping order is created, Order Management automatically generates a corresponding invoice. Payments made for that order are applied to the invoice. You can configure your order workflow to ensure that funds have been collected at any of a number of different stages. An order won't proceed beyond the ensure funds step until payment has been made.

Once items in an order have been allocated to a shipping order, the shipping order is assigned to a specific warehouse or retail location resource for picking the items and packing them for shipment.

Note: Order Management can be integrated with third-party warehouse management and 3PL systems.

The optional Order Management Retail Center module enables you to allocate inventory from retail stores and warehouses. It enables you to configure rules for shipping orders from retail stores when appropriate.