Fulfillment Status: What Does it Mean in E-commerce?

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What is Fulfillment Status?

Fulfillment status shows the state of an e-commerce order and refers to the order particulars, that is, whether an order is processed and awaiting shipment.

The order fulfillment process typically involves the steps below:

Inventory Handling

There are two ways to handle the incoming inventory. One, e-commerce companies can receive and store inventory in-house and carry out the inventory management themselves. The other option is outsourcing the inventory management tasks to a third-party fulfillment partner operating dedicated fulfillment centers.

Warehouse Management

After receiving the incoming inventory, the next step is inventory storage. Third-party fulfillment partners store the new inventory products in fulfillment center warehouses where the rest of the processing occurs.

Order Processing

Companies outsourcing fulfillment convey order requests to the fulfillment partner for processing. However, companies that manage the fulfillment in-house typically have a processing system to alert warehouse staff of new orders. Subsequently, a packing slip is issued detailing the specifications of the customer’s order.

Packing and Shipping

After completion of the packing slip creation process, warehouse staff picks the orders from the storage. The packing team then collects the products for the order and packs them into appropriate packing boxes. Once sealed, the packages are sent to a third-party shipping carrier for final delivery to customers.

Accept or Return

Customers expect easy returns in case they are dissatisfied with the purchase. Customers send the products back with the return label to return their order. Naturally, it is vital to have a straightforward returns policy and a friendly customer services team to handle customer feedback and customer requests.

Fulfillment Status

Difference Between Order Status and Fulfillment Status​

E-commerce orders have order and payment statuses to help track the progress of orders and determine what action orders require.

Orders are created once a customer completes the checkout process. An order status informs how far along the order is and primarily results from customer action. After the order is placed, it goes into fulfillment to be processed and shipped. On the contrary, fulfillment status informs a customer of an order’s processing and shipment statuses. Thus, while the order fulfillment status shows whether an order has been processed and shipped, the order status indicates the actions that need to be taken for a particular order.

If you see ‘awaiting shipment’ written in your order status, this means the next step would probably be ‘pending fulfillment’. This means the logistics company has begun the fulfillment process but it is not fully done yet. This step can take some time, as these companies have to repeat the steps for several thousand products each day. After the fulfillment process is over, they will ship out the item/s you ordered.

Understanding Order Statuses

Below is a list of some standard in-built order statuses in most unified order fulfillment and inventory management software, and what they mean for orders:


Incomplete orders are given a ‘pending’ status when a customer begins the checkout process but does not complete it.

Awaiting Payment

The ‘awaiting payment’ order status indicates that the customer has completed the checkout process, the order has been received, but payment is yet to be confirmed.


A ‘failed’ order status means that the payment failed or was declined or requires verification. The ‘failed’ status often shows as ‘pending’ until payment is verified.

Awaiting Fulfillment

An ‘awaiting fulfillment’ status means the customer has completed the checkout process and payment has been confirmed.

Awaiting Pickup

‘Awaiting pickup’ order status indicates the order has been packaged and is awaiting pickup by the customer from a seller-specified location.


It means that orders have shipped, but their receipt has yet to be confirmed.


A ‘completed’ order status means the order has been picked and shipped, and its receipt by the customer confirmed.


Stock inconsistencies or other reasons can lead a seller to cancel an order.


The seller/admin can repay the whole order using the refund action.

Stages of Fulfillment Status

The order fulfillment status has multiple stages, each describing the processing/shipping state of the order. The stages consist of:

Partially Fulfilled

A ‘partially fulfilled’ fulfillment status indicates that only parts of the order have been shipped to the customer.


Once all items in an order are shipped from the fulfillment center, the order status for fulfillment is completed and flagged as ‘fulfilled’.


The ‘unfulfilled’ status means the customer has placed an order but it is yet to be fulfilled.


Prepaid subscription orders typically have the ‘scheduled’ fulfillment status until the fulfillment date arrives. The fulfillment status updates to ‘unfulfilled’ on the fulfillment date, and the order is ready for subsequent fulfillment in-house or at the fulfillment center.

On Hold

The order fulfillment status may temporarily change to ‘on hold’ when customers at the checkout stage get upsell offers. These holds occur after the customer makes the payment and before they decide to add items to their order. In such a situation, you can reserve inventory for the order but cannot fulfill the order until the release of the fulfillment hold.

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Change the Status of a Fulfillment Order

While some order statuses apply when the user performs a particular control panel action, others need to be applied manually. For instance, shipping items will automatically change the order status to ‘shipped’ in most software, whereas a ‘declined’ or ‘canceled’ order status must be applied manually.

Typically, the status of a fulfillment order will update automatically as the order progresses through the fulfillment workflow. Alternatively, you can manually update the order status if it has not been fulfilled. However, you cannot return to an order status that has already passed in the workflow. Changes in order status are generally followed up by sending automatic email notifications to customers.

Fulfillment Status

Outsourcing Order Fulfillment​

While you can choose to handle all aspects of the fulfillment process by yourself, at some point, it makes sense to outsource fulfillment operations to a third-party fulfillment partner. These third-party fulfillment services manage the supply chain management tasks, including warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping, on your behalf.

Outsourcing order fulfillment refers to appointing a third-party logistics (3PL) company to manage some or all aspects of the order fulfillment process. The 3PL company provides the infrastructure, technology, and workforce to handle the warehousing, picking, packing, shipping, and returns processing of orders.

Needless to say, outsourcing shipping to an order fulfillment company has benefits, including:

  • Faster e-commerce delivery
  • Reduced overhead costs
  • Reduced shipping costs
  • Improved scalability
  • Increased customer satisfaction

What does Sent to Fulfillment Staus mean?

A ‘sent to fulfillment’ status means an order has been sent for processing. It either implies that the order is sitting in the distribution center and is being fulfilled, or the e-commerce company has sent the order to a third-party fulfillment center for it to be processed and shipped.


Fulfillment is one of the most complicated and critical parts of running an e-commerce business. As customer behavior evolves, the pressure increases on e-commerce brands to amp up their fulfillment processes to meet customer expectations and sustain customer loyalty.

Regardless of the order fulfillment model a company uses, each step of the fulfillment process is vital to optimizing the e-commerce order fulfillment strategy. The concept of fulfillment status is intricately linked with the fulfillment process, and informs whether an order is in the processing or shipping stage. Fulfillment status has multiple stages, each indicating the processing/shipping state of orders.

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Fulfillment status shows the state of an order, that is, whether it is in the processing stage or awaits shipment. While ‘fulfilled’ means the order has been shipped, ‘unfulfilled’ indicates the order is yet to be shipped. The order reaches the customer once fulfillment is complete.

Fulfillment status ‘unfulfilled’ means the order has not been shipped yet. Once the order is shipped, customers generally receive a confirmation notification via email with a tracking number and the order status changes to ‘fulfilled.’

If the order status shows ‘awaiting fulfillment,’ it means the order has been placed, but the logistics warehouse has not started the order fulfillment process yet. The process involves picking the items in the order and packing them for shipment.

Fulfillment is the process of getting an order delivered to the customer. When an order is in fulfillment, it usually means it is somewhere in the fulfillment process and has not been shipped yet. 

E-commerce orders that include a post-purchase or upsell offer may have fulfillment holds on inventory. These holds are temporary and occur after payment is accepted and before the customer decides if they will add items to their order. 

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