Once an inventory item has been purchased either through Centralized Order Entry (COE) or eWeb, NetForum provides a means to complete the order through the Fulfillment process. You are able to use fulfillment in NetForum to locate orders by batch, invoice dates or numbers, or by customer or product. Once you locate which products are ready to be distributed to your customers, you can process them so you have items such as shipping labels and packing slips available. The fulfillment process is described in detail here. Be aware that only inventory you are tracking can be included on fulfillment reports as noted in the Important Checkboxes When Adding Merchandise section of the Merchandise help topic.

One-Step vs. Two-Step Packaging Slip Fulfillment

NetForum enables you to fulfill orders using two different methods depending upon which system option your Administrator sets; RegularFulfillmentOrTwoStepPackagingSlip. The two methods are often referred to as 'One-Step' and 'Two-Step' Fulfillment because that is how they work.

During regular, or one-step, fulfillment, the process is a one-step process in that the fulfillment group is generated, items to fulfill are marked, and the fulfillment reports are generated and shipped automatically all in one step. This process is commonly used for those organizations that do not have their own warehouse and use third parties to warehouse and pack products (i.e., as a result they frequently will not use the fulfillment reports that are generated during this process and, therefore, have no need for them).

During two-step fulfillment, the process takes two steps in that the fulfillment group is generated and processed but, before they are shipped, reports can be run such as packing slips and picking lists, so that shipping can occur during step two. Further, products can be removed from the fulfillment process entirely should it be determined that you are out of inventory through the reports. This process is commonly used for those organizations who do have their own warehouses and need to track that inventory much more closely.

Because regular is the default value for this system option and what many organizations commonly use, this article is written to that end. However, when applicable, the two-step differences will be pointed out.

Regardless of which fulfillment process you use, to fulfill orders a common workflow exists:

  1. Begin by adding a new fulfillment group to NetForum (Both steps)
  2. Within the Fulfillment Group, search for unfulfilled orders or invoices and select the items you want to fulfill then process your fulfillment (Both steps)
  3. Create and print the related Fulfillment Reports (Shipping Labels, Invoices, Packing Slips, etc.) you will need from the Fulfillment Group profile. (One-Step Fulfillment) OR
  4. Create and print the Packing Slips and Picking Lists (Two-Step Fulfillment)
  5. Fulfill Processed Orders (Two-Step Fulfillment)

All the fulfillment steps are discussed in detail below.

Adding a Fulfillment Group

A Fulfillment Group gives you the ability to fill a group of orders at one time. The orders can be from one customer and one product at a time or from several different customers and products in a given date range.

To Create a Fulfillment Group:

  1. Go to the Inventory module.
  2. On the Fulfillment Overview page, click the Fulfill Orders link below the Order Fulfillment Group icon. The Order Fulfillment page displays as pictured below:
  3. Click the Search button for the orders you would like to fill using one or more of the following search criteria:
    • Enter a batch number to fulfill orders only from a specific batch.
    • Enter an invoice date or a range of invoice dates to fulfill orders that are date related.
    • Enter an invoice number or a range of invoice numbers to fulfill orders for specific invoices.
    • Enter a customer's name to fulfill an order for a specific customer. Note that you must enter the name as it appears on the invoice which means last name first before results will appear. If you enter first name then last name, you will not receive any results.
    • Enter an product name to fulfill orders for specific products.
  4. Click Search. A list of invoices displays within the specific search criteria you entered. If you do not fill in any search criteria, NetForum will search for all orders that remain unfulfilled and display them from unfulfilled oldest order to newest. Just like the Find functionality, the more criteria you enter, the more specific you return results will be. The screenshot below demonstrates a search of all orders with no criteria entered.
  5. Select the items to be fulfilled by clicking the Invoice check box. If the available qty field has a red zero, it means that the ship from warehouse does not have any of the specified product available to ship. You must wait until this warehouse has more products to ship or choose another warehouse to ship from in the drop-down.
  6. Click Preprocess.
  7. Click Save.

The example below depicts a fulfillment group search by customer name.

Notice that the customer name search is initiated by entering the last name first. The search results returned detail all products ordered by this customer along with the invoice number. By default, all orders that are ready to be fulfilled in your search results are selected. If an order is listed that you do not want to fulfill at this time, simply deselect the checkbox next to it.

Also notice that the amount of inventory available for each product is listed so that you are aware of your inventory amounts before you process this order. Should a product be out of stock, this too will be noted in the Fulfillment Group by a red zero in the available quantity column as noted above. If you know an order has been processed but it is not displaying in the fulfillment list, check the product record in inventory to make sure there is inventory on-hand.

Finally, as noted above, to complete and process this order, click the Process Requests button at the bottom of the page. You are now ready to prepare your products for distribution which is discussed below in Managing your Fulfillment.

Adding a Two-Step Fulfillment Group

To add a two-step fulfillment group the exact steps discussed for adding a Fulfillment Group above are followed. The only difference is what occurs next when you click the Process button. As noted in the Overview, during one-step fulfillment, you are ready to ship your print your reports (if needed) once you click Process Requests because you are making the assumption that all inventory has been carefully tracked and that what you are viewing on the NetForum screen is essentially correct (inventory amounts, etc.). This is often why those organizations who do not have their own warehouses use the one-step method. They depend upon their vendors to track this for them and make that reasonable assumption.

However, in two-step fulfillment, organizations often have their own warehouses and do not want to make this assumption without double-checking. When you click Process Selected Items, shipping and fulfillment does not yet occur, and the following screenshot appears:

Before continuing on to the Fulfillment process screen, you are given the option to print your Packing Slips and Picking Lists to determine for certain that your inventory exists and to include the Packing Slips if needed. Clicking the Continue button then brings you to step two in the process, shown below.

Once you have used your fulfillment reports, you are able to make a determination on your inventory and use the Order Fulfillment Process screen to do so. It will contain:

  • fulfillment code: A code that is automatically generated for you.
  • warehouse name: A field used to search for different products to fulfill if needed. To find all unfilled products in a specific warehouse, enter the warehouse name and then select the Display All button.
  • ord/inv/claim from: Used to specify a specific range of invoices or orders instead of the Display All button as noted above.

Each item you selected when adding your Fulfillment group will be in the Select Action To Be Taken On Each Item section along with the warehouse name where it is being stored, the qty you processed vs. the qty you will actually ship, the date, and the action you want to take on it. Note that in the Action drop-down field you have three actions:

  • You can now choose to fulfill the product. This will ship the item to its intended destination.
  • You can choose to remove the product from this group which will result in no action.
  • You can choose to place the item on-hold and save it for fulfillment later in the event it is out of stock, for example.

Note that there is a difference between clicking the Done button and the Fulfill/Remove/Hold Selected Items button. Done simply saves the group but does not fulfill and ship it. You will need to go back to the Fulfillment Overview screen and click the Fulfill Processed Orders link to complete it. Click the Fulfill/Remove/Hold Selected Items button to complete the Two-Step process.

Finding a Fulfillment Group

Finding Fulfillment Group that has been entered into the NetForum database is easily accomplished. The Find function is universal throughout NetForum and detailed on the Find topic. However, navigating to the Fulfillment Find function is a bit different from other functions within the Inventory module. To access the Find function for Fulfillment Groups, perform the following steps:
  1. Access the Fulfillment Overview page and click on the Order Fulfillment Group link as pictured below.
  2. The List Fulfillment Group page will display as seen below.
  3. Click on the Find button to access the Find Fulfillment Group, seen below. Finding records within the Inventory module follows the same format and function. You may search by the following:
    • Fulfillment Code - A code that is created [by NetForum ] each time you create a new fulfillment group.
    • Fulfillment Date - The date you create the Fulfillment Group
    • Add User - The user that creates the Fulfillment Group. This will be your NetForum user name and not your real name.
    The Advanced View checkbox allows you to conduct Boolean searches to broaden and narrow your search as needed.

Managing Fulfillment Groups

Navigating to the Fulfillment Group Profile

The Fulfillment Group Profile is displayed once you have created a new Fulfillment Group within the NetForum application. If you want to navigate to and view a specific profile page:

  • Click on the Inventory module from the Module Menu drop-down.
  • On the Group Item menu, click Fulfillment and then click Overview to navigate to the Fulfillment Overview page .
  • On the Fulfillment Overview page, click the Order Fulfillment Group link. The List - Fulfillment Group page displays.
  • Select a Fulfillment Group from the list to display. The Fulfillment Group Profile displays as demonstrated below.

Fulfillment Group Profile

The Fulfillment Group Profile displays the fulfillment date, the group code (generated automatically by NetForum ), and a list of invoices for the fulfilled products that were included for this group. Also available within the Fulfillment Group are several reports that can now be generated including:

  • Shipping Labels: A printable list with the name and address of all orders included in the group suitable to use as labels for shipping
  • Print Invoices: Detailed invoices (in print format) for each customer included within the group
  • Billing Labels: Billing Labels suitable for printing (in the event this customer differs from the Shipping customer)
  • Packing Slips: Printable packing slips that are included with a customer order
  • Picking List: Printable picking lists for use when pulling items from inventory.

Fulfillment Group Reports are discussed in more detail below.

There is one child form that can be viewed from each Fulfillment Group as well. Child forms are accessed by clicking on the various tabs found at the bottom of each profile page or, in this case, accessed directly as in the case of the fulfilled items child form, discussed in more detail below.

Fulfilled Items Child Form

The fulfilled items child form gives you the ability to view a fulfillment group's pertinent information without generating a report.

All items selected for the Fulfillment Group are displayed here as well as the Invoice. To go directly to the corresponding invoice, click the green Goto arrow.

Fulfillment Reports

After you have created your Fulfillment Group and processed the products to be included within it, you will have access to five different Fulfillment Reports to complete your fulfillment. The reports are accessible from the Fulfillment Group Profile, seen below.

The five reports are discussed and displayed below.

Shipping Labels

After processing the products in your Fulfillment Group, click on the shipping labels icon to spawn a separate window that contains printable shipping labels for each customer and product listed in your fulfillment. In the example below, the fulfillment is for one customer who ordered three products. A label for each product has been generated in this case.

Print Invoices

You may wish to have an invoice suitable for printing. Clicking on the print invoices icon will generate a separate window that displays an invoice (or receipt if it has been paid) suitable for printing. In the example below notice that details such as customer name and address, invoice number, date, terms, and batch number are included. Further, the product name, unit price, and amount are subtotaled as well as the amount paid (if applicable).

Billing Labels

Occasionally your billing address may be different from your shipping address. If that is the case, you may click on the billing labels icon to generate printable billing labels as well as your shipping labels.

Packing Slips

When a product is to be shipped, a packing slip should be included with the shipment. This is accomplished by using the packing slips icon. Notice in the example below that the ship to address is included as well as details about the product order including type, product code and name and description. If you plan to ship your products, it is for this reason you should carefully consider how you use product codes, names, and descriptions, for example.

Picking List

When an item needs to be removed from inventory, particularly from a Warehouse, the picking list icon is helpful to print and use. Picking lists make it easier to find inventory items in your warehouse.

Assuming that location details were entered when the product and warehouse were set-up, picking lists will detail this.

Fulfillment Exceptions

Occasionally when you process your Fulfillment Group you will generate an exception. This means that an error has occurred. To make sure that no errors have occurred when you create your Fulfillment Group, the Exceptions icon is available, shown below.

Some common exceptions are:

  1. Cannot create an invoice without line items
  2. The statement has been terminated. Violation of unique key constraint. Cannot insert duplicate key in object.
  3. Item currencies must match invoice currency.
  4. Payment currency must match invoice currency.
  5. Cannot process PayPal express check out without Token and Payer Id.
  6. Currency does not match the invoice currency or the home currency for the business unit associated with the invoice batch. Cannot mix currencies on the same invoice.

If you should receive an exception when you process your Fulfillment Group, contact your Administrator and/or NetForum support.

Product Refunds and Returns

Sometimes during fulfillment customers will request refunds or returns. There is a slight difference between the two. If a customer desires that his/her money be refunded for a returned product, this is defined as a Refund.

If a customer simply returns a product and just wants his/her account credited as opposed to refunded, this is termed a Return. Returns and how to handle them are detailed in the Invoice Profile section.

Order Claims

An Order Claim is created when a customer receives a damaged product, or the product is lost in transit, and the customer wants to be reimbursed for the money paid for the product. Adding a claim is accomplished in the Accounting module under the Invoice section. See Adding a Claim for step-by-step instructions on how to add a new order claim.

Updating Stored Payment Information for an Order before Fulfillment

Occasionally, a customer might need to change their payment method after an order is placed and before it is fulfilled.

If the RecognizeRevenueDuringFulfillment system option is set to true, and the fulfillment order with a credit card payment has not yet been fulfilled, the payment has been authorized with the payment processor, but not yet captured.

If the stored payment information is changed to a different payment method (for example, the customer asks to switch from a Visa to a MasterCard), then at the time of fulfillment, NetForum performs a new authorization and capture for the new payment information. However, the original authorization on the original payment is still active. In order to release the hold on those funds from the customer’s account, you must log in to the payment processor’s web portal, locate the original authorization, and void or reverse it. You cannot release the hold from NetForum.

If you don't release the hold from the payment processor, it remains on the customer’s account until it automatically lapses. The number of days for the hold varies depending on the issuing bank.

Note: This does not apply to ACH transactions. ACH processes the full amount at the initial sale.

Converting an Order to an Invoice through Fulfillment

One of the ways to convert an order to an invoice is to Fulfill the Order (The others are include:

  • Click the Invoice Order icon on the Order Profile page.
  • Moving an Event Registrant from the Event Wait List to the Event Registration list.

Converting orders to invoices through fulfillment

When an order is invoiced through the fulfillment process, the invoice includes the fulfilled line items, tax, discounts, and shipping charges. If more than one invoice is created for an order, the first invoice will have the same number as the order; the rest of the invoices will have a counter number (-1, -2, etc) appended to the invoice number. The shipping charges are invoiced in full when the first item on the invoice is fulfilled.

When an order is invoiced, payments are applied. For credit card payments, the credit card will be charged through the electronic payment gateway. For all other payment methods, credits linked to the order will be applied up to the amount of the credit.

To convert the orders to invoices by fulfilling the orders:

1. Fulfill the orders. Invoices created through fulfillment are placed into a batch created by the fulfillment process. The batch will have the same name as the fulfillment group.

2. From the Fulfillment Group Profile, click Print Invoices.

Note: If a credit card is linked to an order and the credit card is declined, NetForum will look at the system option RecognizeRevenueDuringFulfillmentIgnoreFailedCreditCards. If the current setting check box for that system option is selected, NetForum will invoice the customer without payment. If the current setting check box is not selected, NetForum will not fulfill the order and it will not be invoiced.

More details can be found on the invoice order article.