Warehouse vs. Fulfilment Centre: Key Differences & Benefits

Warehouse vs. Fulfilment Centre: Key Differences & Benefits

Cathy Carpetta

Cathy Carpetta

April 18, 2024

You know the struggle. Customers hit "purchase" on your latest product launch, but fulfilling those orders efficiently and on time can feel like a logistical nightmare. 

Warehouse space is tight, picking and packing take forever, and managing multiple sales channels adds another layer of complexity. 

Enter the fulfilment centre: your potential secret weapon in the e-commerce and omnichannel retail game.

In this article, we'll explain everything you need to understand about fulfilment centres. 

Also, we'll explore the key differences from traditional warehouses, highlighting how they can streamline your omnichannel operations and boost customer satisfaction. 

1. What is a fulfilment centre? 

Fulfilment centres are key hubs in the supply chain, managing everything from processing to dispatching orders. 

E-commerce and omnichannel retailers often rely on third-party logistics (3PL) providers like Bigblue to handle these operations. 

Essentially, fulfilment centres streamline the delivery process, ensuring that online orders meet customer expectations and relieving retailers of complex logistics.

2. Fulfilment centre vs warehouse: Key distinctions

While sometimes used interchangeably, the primary functions of warehouses and fulfilment centres differ significantly. 

Warehouses excel at long-term storage, particularly for bulk goods. They're a cost-effective option if you have a large inventory and don't require rapid order fulfilment.

In contrast, fulfilment centres prioritise order fulfilment efficiency and speed. This makes them ideal for managing high order volume or offering fast delivery to your customers

They also specialise in inventory management and maintaining optimal stock levels to avoid stockouts. Real-time inventory tracking and data analysis are also crucial aspects of a fulfilment centre. 

They offer a wider range of value-added services, including:

FeatureWarehouseFulfilment CentreCore FunctionLong-term storageOrder fulfilment efficiencyInventory ManagementFocuses on bulk quantities and storage space utilisationOptimises stock levels for fast order fulfilmentValue-added ServicesPrimarily storage spaceOrder picking, packing, labelling, shipping, returns processingInfrastructureMay have less sophisticated infrastructureOften incorporates automation and advanced WMSIdeal forLarge inventory, long-term storage needsE-commerce or omnichannel brands, high order volume, fast delivery needs
Fulfilment centre vs warehouse: Key differences

3. 5 benefits of using a fulfilment centre

By outsourcing fulfilment to a dedicated centre, you unlock a multitude of benefits that empower your e-commerce brand to thrive:

3.1 Lower costs

Fulfilment centres deal with so many shipments that they can often get lower shipping rates from carriers. They can also help you optimise your storage space.

Bigblue Tips

Bigblue offers competitive shipping rates through a network of
20+ European carriers (Colissimo, Royal Mail, etc.). 
smart carrier option automatically selects the most cost-effective and reliable delivery for each customer, saving you money and keeping them happy.

3.2 Faster deliveries and fewer mistakes

Fulfilment centres are set up to handle orders quickly and accurately, which keeps your customers happy.

For example, we ensure a 96% delivery satisfaction rate, versus the industry average of 77%.

3.3 More time for you to focus on what matters

By outsourcing fulfilment, you'll have more time to focus on things like developing new products and marketing your business.

“Since we started using Bigblue, our logistics have been magically transformed! Their application streamlines our operations and allows us to ensure an incredible experience while focusing on our products”, says Regina Rodriguez, Founder of Believe Athletics

3.4 Easier to grow your business

These centres can handle more orders as your business gets bigger, without you needing to invest in more space or staff. Plus, you can easily reach new markets with their existing locations. 

Bigblue Tips 

Reach new customers across Europe faster! 
Bigblue's strategically placed network of
8 fulfilment centres in France, the UK, and Spain makes it easy to expand your reach without managing complex logistics.

3.5 Successful B2B order fulfilment and retailers' collaboration

Fulfilment centres can easily handle the larger order volumes typical of B2B transactions. No need to invest in extra warehouse space or staff – it can scale with you. You can also count on their expertise to adapt to your retailer's receiving requirements.

“Bigblue makes it possible to restock +85% of our wholesale orders in less than 48 hours”, says Honorine Thibault, Logistics and Procurement Manager at Dermalogica France

So, warehouse or fulfilment centre? The answer depends on your specific needs.

Warehouses excel at long-term storage, especially for bulk goods. They're a cost-effective option if you have a large inventory and don't require rapid order fulfilment.

Fulfilment centres shine in efficiency and speed. They're ideal for e-commerce and omnichannel brands with high order volume or a focus on fast delivery. They offer a wider range of services, including picking, packing, labelling, shipping, and even returns processing.

Ultimately, the best choice empowers your business to thrive. Consider your needs – if streamlined order fulfilment and happy customers are top priorities, a fulfilment centre might be the best option for you.

Bigblue's fulfilment centres streamline orders, boost delivery speeds & free you to focus on growth. Reach new customers in Europe with our strategically placed network.
Contact our expert to get a quote & unlock happier customers!

Frequently asked questions
Everything you need to know.
What does a fulfilment centre do?

A fulfilment centre is a hub dedicated to receiving, processing, and fulfilling customer orders. It ensures that goods are efficiently picked, packed, and shipped to customers.

Which is an example of a fulfilment centre?

Bigblue is a prime example of modern fulfilment centres in Europe. Their facilities leverage automation and strategic locations to optimise shipping times and logistics efficiency.

Is a fulfilment centre right for my business?

Fulfilment centres are particularly beneficial for e-commerce businesses that experience high order volumes or require fast delivery times. They can also be a valuable asset for businesses lacking the space or resources to manage their fulfilment operations in-house.

What are the benefits of using a fulfilment centre?

Fulfilment centres offer numerous advantages, including increased efficiency, faster delivery times, reduced costs, and the ability to scale operations effortlessly.

How can I choose the right fulfilment centre for my business?

Several factors influence selecting the ideal fulfilment centre, such as your business size, order volume, product range, and budget. Consider factors like the fulfilment centre's geographic reach, technology infrastructure, and experience in your specific industry.

What is the difference between a fulfilment centre and a warehouse?

The key difference lies in their functions: a warehouse primarily stores goods, while a fulfilment centre focuses on handling and shipping orders to customers. Fulfilment centres also manage returns more frequently.