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In 2022, McKinsey found that over 90% of online shoppers in the US see two-to-three-day delivery as a standard. Given their demand for speedy deliveries, customers would want to be informed. When tracking the shipping status, some customers may notice their order is awaiting fulfillment and need help understanding its meaning. This article will explain awaiting fulfillment and its role in the order fulfillment process. After that, we’ll provide relevant tips and recommended practices.

What does awaiting fulfillment mean?

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Awaiting fulfillment means the seller has confirmed the order and its associated payment. The order is now sent to fulfillment staff, who will pick and pack the listed items into packages. After this step, the package will be handed to a delivery service provider. It is assigned a tracking number, which buyers use to monitor their orders.

Let us examine an awaiting fulfillment example to understand the workflow better.

If a customer orders from a large retailer and the order tracking dashboard says awaiting fulfillment, their order has been successfully paid for and noted. Afterward, the retailer’s fulfillment team will pick out the items listed on the invoice, and prepare packages appropriate for shipment.

If the retailer is of a smaller scale (like a start-up project), one person may handle all fulfillment duties. In the case of a custom product, if it’s awaiting fulfillment, the item is being customized by the seller. 

How long does awaiting fulfillment take?

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Typically, awaiting fulfillment status lasts for 48 to 72 hours. Buyers can expect a notification or an email stating that the fulfillment is complete and the items have been shipped.

In addition, the merchant will likely send the order ID and tracking information. With these details, you can check the shipment status from your computer or mobile device. 

However, remember that order awaiting fulfillment time can take longer than this estimation. Disruptions and delays can happen quite often, and the issue may come from the merchant or what occurs is out of their control. 

Why should retailers care about awaiting fulfillment?

Understanding order awaiting fulfillment and other order statuses in the retail fulfillment pipeline is vital for retailers. The information helps retailers gain a general view of logistic processes. They will also achieve better order management. This knowledge will be the key to solving hiccups caused by disruptions such as wars, natural disasters, and accidents.

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Furthermore, it enables them to provide timely support for buyers, improve overall experience, and earn good reviews. Buyers can ask many urgent questions like:

  • When will my order arrive?
  • My order is awaiting fulfillment. What does it mean?
  • How can I check if there’s an issue with my order?

Understanding the term helps the merchant address customer concerns instantly. 

What happens after awaiting fulfillment?

When the fulfillment process is complete, the order is packed, assigned a shipment number, and ready to be picked up and shipped to the buyer. Buyers will receive a notification and see the status changing from awaiting fulfillment to awaiting shipment. 

However, delayed shipping can occur due to a myriad of reasons such as logistics disruptions and the increased workload of peak seasons. In this case, the status “awaiting fulfillment” can remain unchanged for longer than usual. 

Other common order statuses explained

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In the order processing pipeline, apart from orders awaiting fulfillment, there are many status updates that you may have not yet fully understood. We have gathered relevant order statuses in the list below.

Pending

If an order is pending, it means the checkout process is incomplete. On some eCommerce platforms, the word “Incomplete” may be used, though the meaning is still the same. 

You have a few days to complete the transaction, usually up to 7 business days. However, the time allowed for pending varies greatly, and some sites may allow just 5-10 minutes. If a buyer fails to finish the payment process after that deadline, the order is canceled. The buyer needs to start from scratch if they still wish to place the order. 

Pending fulfillment

If the order status reads “pending fulfillment”, it usually means you are one step closer to seeing the package arriving at your front door. Compared to awaiting fulfillment, pending fulfillment indicates that the fulfillment process has started but is not yet finished. Your order is now being packed and labeled.

Pending fulfillment is placed after awaiting fulfillment and before the shipment step. However, since pending fulfillment and awaiting fulfillment share a lot of similarities in their meanings, some platforms may use them to indicate the same order status. 

Processing order

After an order is noted, the status will appear as “processing order”. It means that the merchant is in the process of picking, packing, and preparing your order for shipment.

An order’s processing time can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the merchant. The ideal time is no more than 3 business days. For example, if the seller has the item in stock, they can process the order instantly. If the product has to be transferred from somewhere else, it certainly will take longer. The type of product is also a decisive factor. Customized products can take up to several weeks to be made, significantly increasing the processing period. 

Awaiting shipment

You may notice that your order is at a phase called awaiting shipment, meaning the purchased item is ready to be dispatched and the merchant is waiting for the courier to pick it up. Couriers are usually employed by small businesses without dedicated employees for this task. For large-scale retailers with in-house delivery teams, “awaiting shipment” may signify that the item has been handed to them and is ready for shipping.

“Awaiting shipment” sometimes can be displayed as “shipment awaiting pickup”. Moreover, “awaiting shipment” and “awaiting delivery” can be used interchangeably since they share a similar meaning. 

One may wonder: How long does awaiting shipment or awaiting delivery take? Although it typically takes 1-2 days for the courier to pick up your order, during peak seasons, it is not uncommon for this status to remain unchanged for several days. This is similar to the duration of awaiting fulfillment.

Four reasons for order awaiting fulfillment

order awaiting fulfillment

Many people feel negative about the “awaiting fulfillment” phase, assuming their orders are arriving later than they expect. However, the status does not necessarily indicate a late delivery or delayed processing. Your case may fall into one of the following scenarios.

Your order has been received and acknowledged by the seller

The seller has noted this but has not yet started preparing and packing your order. Due to the possibility of a high number of orders, it may take a while for this to happen and for your order status to change. 

There is a delay in the fulfillment process

This may happen if the status does not change within a few days. The items you requested may be out of stock for now, so the merchant must wait for them to be shipped from another warehouse. 

Another solution to an out-of-stock item is putting it on the backorder. Unlike pre-order, backorder is an item that is temporarily unavailable but is guaranteed by the seller to be delivered within a timeframe. 

If you are buying a backorder, it makes sense that the awaiting fulfillment phase can last for days and even weeks.

You have requested a customized product

A customized product needs additional production efforts from the seller before it can be shipped to you. In this case, buyers may have to wait for months before they can see the order status switching from awaiting fulfillment to something else.

Your order is affected by external factors

Your order may have been affected by other external factors, which caused the logistic teams to be unable to proceed.

For example, during COVID-19, work safety restrictions were imposed on facilities worldwide, leading to a significant slowdown in picking and packing. As a result, the fulfillment time experienced a dramatic increase.

How to improve your fulfillment process?

awaiting shipment

So how can your business improve the fulfillment process? 

Undoubtedly, enhancing the process plays an essential role in their profitability. The faster and more efficiently a retailer can fulfill customer orders, the more reliable they appear. Consequently, they gain more revenue from the growing number of satisfied buyers.

In the fiercely competitive retail landscape, providing excellent customer service is a key differentiator. Customers can easily reach out to your competitors if your service is unsatisfactory and the loss is yours to take. 

We have compiled a comprehensive list of actions that can measurably raise the quality and efficiency of your fulfillment process.

Sync data across fulfillment-related systems

For retail businesses, the order fulfillment pipeline can involve more than one system, which is common for those of medium and large scale. The process is even more complex with the addition of third-party service providers such as logistics companies. 

Cross-system data synchronization ensures a streamlined workflow. It allows participants in the order fulfillment process to stay informed and eliminates bottlenecks. If an issue occurs, all stakeholders can quickly figure out how to solve it and avoid downtime. 

Choose a suitable location for your warehouse

Retailers should place their inventory near where their target customers are. It should be also close to where order fulfillment is performed. The proximity helps them save transportation costs, which can be a significant figure, and decrease wait time for buyers. As a result, the items awaiting fulfillment will not pile up in warehouses and take up resources.    

Maintain traceability of the fulfillment process

Customers are eager about their orders and want to know when they receive the package. Thanks to visibility into the order fulfillment process, customer service staff and managers can quickly locate the order and answer customer inquiries. 

Make sure the inventory is always accurate 

Accurate and real-time inventory reports allow retailers to start working as soon as they receive an order. Moreover, they can truthfully report to customers if the product is unavailable or when they expect a delay. That is why keeping track of inventory is beneficial for overall supply chain management.

Plan for fluctuations in demand

Retailers need to have a clear idea of upcoming changes in customer demand. In the holiday season, shopping demand can skyrocket. Forecasting helps retailers avoid facing an overwhelming number of orders awaiting fulfillment. Conversely, accurate demand forecasting means they will not overstock their inventories when the market is less busy. 

Keep the workflow simple

While maintaining an adequate level of monitor and control, retailers should keep the management hierarchy as simple as possible. Consider combining or removing steps, and make sure the number and complexity of decisions and actions are minimal. This practice saves your time and effort and also reduces fulfillment errors.

Streamline order processing with Magestore order fulfillment software

It is a common practice to leverage innovative digital solutions to optimize the order fulfillment process. With digitally enabled automation and efficiency, managing order statuses such as awaiting fulfillment is a breeze. Magestore’s Magento Order Fulfillment Software allows merchants to: 

  • Easily and quickly monitor the order fulfillment pipeline with live-update statuses in one single system
  • Instantly locate orders to see whether they are awaiting fulfillment or are ready to be dispatched
  • Check stocks across all your warehouses to define the most optimized fulfillment route
  • In-depth and highly visual reports 
  • Allow both default shipping methods and integration of 3rd-party couriers

Looking for something beyond order fulfillment? Seeking a holistic approach to managing your retail workflow? Check out Magestore Retail Management Software

Magestore Retail Management Software is a comprehensive store management solution that covers inventory, purchasing, and fulfillment aspects.

What it unlocks:

  • Powerful inventory management and highly accurate demand forecast to regulate stock effectively
  • Real-time supervision of omnichannel order fulfillment 
  • Insightful reports that foster informed decision-making

Closing remarks

To conclude, awaiting fulfillment indicates that the order has been confirmed. Afterward, fulfillment staff will proceed with packaging and shipping it. 

Retailers need to gain a thorough understanding of order statuses, including order awaiting fulfillment. It helps you manage orders with confidence and transparency. With process visibility, you can handle customer inquiries effectively and boost their satisfaction. 

Having reliable order fulfillment software such as Magestore will help you stay informed and run your business more efficiently.

FAQs

1. What is the difference between awaiting fulfillment, pending fulfillment, and awaiting shipment?

These are the three statuses found in the order fulfillment pipeline. They can be differentiated by whether or not the fulfillment process has started and the order is ready for shipment. 

  • Awaiting fulfillment: Your order is soon going to be packed and ready for shipment by the fulfillment staff.
  • Pending fulfillment: The fulfillment process has begun. Fulfillment staff are now handling your order. 
  • Awaiting shipment: The fulfillment process has been completed. The courier will soon pick it up and ship the item to the buyer. 

2. Are “orders fulfilled” and “orders shipped” the same thing?

No. While “Orders fulfilled” means the orders have been dispatched from the warehouse, “Orders shipped” means the items have been received by the customer. 

Nonetheless, the meanings of the two terms also depend on what e-commerce platform you’re using.

  • Shopify defines orders fulfilled as items that have been packaged and soon will be ready to be dispatched.
  • WooCommerce identifies an order as “fulfilled” when it has been shipped. It means that to WooCommerce, orders fulfilled and orders shipped are the same thing. 

3. What is the difference between awaiting fulfillment and processing?

The difference lies in whether the fulfillment process has begun.

  • An order awaiting fulfillment means the fulfillment team has not yet started working on it. 
  • “Processing” means the process has started. The order is now being packed and prepared to be shipped to buyers.

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Author Jackie Tran

Jackie is Magestore's Strategic Marketing Lead with over 5 years of digital transformation experience. An acknowledged authority in eCommerce and Magento, she creates insightful content to unravel digital complexities, covering Magento best practices, eCommerce trends, and integration strategies. Read her curated insights on the Magestore blog for a profound understanding of eCommerce, offering a clear path to retail success. Jackie's content provides practical, friendly guidance to navigate the ever-evolving digital commerce landscape.

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