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E-Commerce Fulfillment vs. DTC Fulfillment: What is the Difference?

Is e-commerce fulfillment and DTC fulfillment the same thing? Does it matter which one you partner with?

Your choice of fulfillment partner impacts the success of your online business and your ability to grow over time. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between e-commerce fulfillment services and DTC fulfillment services, including:

Why E-Commerce Businesses Outsource Fulfillment 

First, if you’re not sold yet on outsourcing the fulfillment portion of your e-commerce business, here are some reasons why you should consider it:

  • Agility during unforeseen events: An e-commerce fulfillment partner has the resources and knowledge to navigate unforeseen circumstances, such as recent supply chain issues.
  • Reduced shipping costs: A fulfillment company will find the most affordable and reliable shipping options for your business, or create a custom solution depending on your needs.  
  • International shipping: Do you ship internationally or plan to in the future? While the market for online sales is great in the US, it’s even better in places like China, the UK, South Korea and Norway. But shipping internationally can be a headache. You need to keep track of extra duties, taxes, and fees that accompany importation, as well as banned or restricted ingredients (a serious concern for the beauty industry). A top fulfillment center (see more below) can track all that for you, in addition to helping with proper documentation for foreign ports of entry. 

What are the Differences Between E-Commerce Fulfillment and DTC Fulfillment?

Let’s start by talking about what e-commerce fulfillment and DTC fulfillment have in common.

Both e-commerce fulfillment and DTC fulfillment companies typically hold inventory on their premises, pick and pack the appropriate products and then ship the parcel to the customer when an order is placed.  

There are two main differences between e-commerce fulfillment and DTC fulfillment companies.

The first difference is that e-commerce fulfillment companies can work with shipping arrangements that involve a middleman, like Etsy or Amazon third-party selling.

DTC fulfillment companies cater to direct-to-consumer (DTC) online vendors. These online retailers sell directly to customers via their own websites (and sometimes through brick-and-mortar stores). Some popular examples are Warby Parker, which sells eyewear, and Allbirds, which sells footwear. They don’t sell through Amazon, Walmart or any other middleman.

This is a frequent way startups begin, but now as some larger companies maintain that way of operating, it gives them more control and increases profitability.

The second difference between the two types of fulfillment comes down to service offerings.

DTC fulfillment companies tend to be more limited versions of full-service e-commerce fulfillment services. DTC fulfillment companies are, in essence, a subset of e-commerce fulfillment companies. All e-commerce fulfillment companies can handle DTC services, but not the other way around.

It’s tempting to think that if you’re a startup or committed to remaining a DTC e-commerce venture, you don’t need the extra services provided by a full-service e-commerce fulfillment partner.

But think about how unpredictable the events of the last few years have been. It’s possible that you will want to change your selling model in the future or need assistance navigating supply chain delays.

Full-service e-commerce fulfillment companies offer a wide range of services designed to help scale DTC businesses and enhance customer service.

So, what are the extra services that full-service e-commerce fulfillment companies provide? 


Benefits of Full-Service E-Commerce Fulfillment 

In addition to handling all of your DTC fulfillment needs, as well as the requirements of an online vendor selling through third parties, a full-service e-commerce fulfillment company offers:

GLF E-Commerce Fulfillment checks all the boxes on the list above, and we have fulfillment centers throughout the country, including the Northeast and Texas, which help expedite delivery times and reduce costs. We serve a wide variety of e-commerce and DTC industries and offer unmatched reliability, transparent pricing and personalized service.

Reach out to our team today to learn how partnering with GLF E-Commerce Fulfillment can help grow your online business.  

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