Online shoppers expect a fast, effortless, and inexpensive experience with your brand, which requires a fulfillment center that picks, packs, and ships accurate orders at lightning speeds.
To stay afloat, you’ll need to meet these expectations with a seamless and speedy fulfillment system — and to build that, your business will need to hire the right talent.
Hiring a director to manage the fulfillment cycle is absolutely crucial to the long-term growth of a DTC brand. With a capable Director of Fulfillment to manage the people and processes governing how quickly goods wind up in customers’ hands, your business is better positioned to deliver a stellar customer experience, win business, and maintain growth.
In this article, you’ll learn what a Director of Fulfillment is, the common qualifications and responsibilities of Fulfillment Directors, and tips and best practices that aspiring or existing Directors of Fulfillment can use to optimize their fulfillment operations.
What is a Director of Fulfillment?
A Director of Fulfillment is a logistics management professional who is responsible for leading all of a company’s operations related to order processing and fulfillment.
Every step of the fulfillment process — including warehouse operations, inventory planning and tracking, quality control, staffing, procedural development, picking, packaging, and shipping — falls under the purview of this role.
The main goal of a Fulfillment Director is to ensure that daily fulfillment operations are executed with excellence and efficiency, so that inventory, quality, and warehouse KPIs are met. In service of that goal, many Directors of Fulfillment focus on optimizing processes to improve the speed and accuracy of fulfillment.
As a member of senior management, this person works closely with the executive leadership team and 3PL partners. Together, they develop a fulfillment strategy that helps achieve a company’s higher-level goals.
However, the Director of Fulfillment also oversees other employees (including warehousing, fulfillment, customer service, and logistics team members), and works alongside them to manage fulfillment processes.
While the basic responsibilities remain relatively consistent, the job title of this role may vary. Other versions of a “Director of Fulfillment” include:
- Fulfillment Manager
- Logistics Operations Manager
- Order Fulfillment Director
- Director of Ecommerce Fulfillment
- Senior Manager of Fulfillment Operations
- Director of Fulfillment Operations
Common prerequisites and job descriptions for a Director of Fulfillment
Though specific requirements will vary depending on the company and the unique position, candidates looking to become Logistics Directors can expect to see many of the same criteria on job descriptions.
Here are some major prerequisites that companies look for in their next Director of Fulfillment:
- A Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in supply chain management, project management, business, logistics operations, or other related field
- 5+ years of industry experience in fulfillment, supply chain operations, or warehouse management
- 5+ years of experience managing full-time and part-time employees, or serving on leadership teams
- Technical and applied understanding of digital logistics tools, such as transportation management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), and inventory management systems (IMS)
- Proven track record of consistently delivering on KPIs
- Experience in analyzing metrics and data-driven decision-making
- Strong written and oral communication skills
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.)
A Fulfillment Director’s daily responsibilities will also vary from company to company (depending on the specific needs of each organization). Here are some of the most typical day-to-day duties of Directors of Fulfillment.
- Overseeing and coordinating daily order fulfillment activities, including order processing, picking, packing, and shipping preparation.
- Optimizing order fulfillment through collaboration with business stakeholders and internal teams
- Developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for inventory control, logistics management, and order fulfillment to meet operational goals
- Implementing quality control measures for all fulfillment processes
- Forecasting demand to facilitate inventory management
- Tracking inventory levels to prevent stock-outs and/or deadstock
- Managing internal reports, such as warehouse staff and customer service staff
- Maintaining external relationships with vendors, suppliers, 3PLs, and other stakeholders
- Utilizing management software to improve operational efficiency, such as IMS, WMS, and TMS platforms
- Creating and executing operational budgets
- Submitting periodic progress reports
- Hiring staff, warehouse workers, or other personnel as needed to execute order fulfillment
How much does a fulfillment director make?
The salaries of Directors of Fulfillment in the US average between $64K and $97K , with a median annual salary of around $81K. Salaries vary depending on a candidate’s experience level, education, certifications, and skills, as well as the location of the position.
Tips for aspiring & existing Directors of Fulfillment
Demand for Fulfillment Director positions fluctuates depending on the season, the ecommerce industry’s performance, and many other factors.
To set yourself apart from the competition or improve your current fulfillment operations, here are some tips to help optimize your order fulfillment process.
Use a 3PL
In-house logistics and warehouse management quickly become expensive and time-consuming for most growing ecommerce businesses. Like any smart leader, an effective Director of Fulfillment leverages collaboration with experts to drive business growth more easily and at reduced cost.
Outsourcing fulfillment operations to a 3PL partner like ShipBob can accomplish more of the heavy lifting of fulfillment. This way, Directors of Fulfillment can focus on other important aspects of fulfillment management, such as hiring staff, metrics tracking and analysis, and strategic planning.
Tech-enabled 3PL partners can also optimize fulfillment operations for your business. In addition to saving you money and fulfilling orders faster, this optimization makes it easier for the Fulfillment Director to meet their goals.
Use sophisticated logistics technology
As a Director of Fulfillment, you are expected to utilize modern logistics and warehouse software on a daily basis, and to find fulfillment technology that integrates with a company’s existing tech stack in order to increase supply chain efficiency.
When evaluating technology solutions for fulfillment, Directors should look for software that is easy to use, provides access to real-time updates, reports, and tracking information, and automates processes as much as possible.
Ideally, this software will also be cloud-based, and will integrate directly with all major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Squarespace.
Together, these features simplify order fulfillment, and help Directors of Fulfillment achieve sustainable growth with less effort.
Have your own warehouse? Get a WMS
ShipBob has a best-in-class warehouse management system (WMS) for brands that have their own warehouse and need help managing inventory in real time, reducing picking, packing, and shipping errors, and scaling with ease.
With Merchant Plus, brands can even leverage ShipBob’s fulfillment services in any of ShipBob’s fulfillment centers across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia to improve cross-border shipping, reduce costs, and speed up deliveries.
One of a Fulfillment Director’s biggest responsibilities is getting products to customers in the shortest time frame possible. Here, the distributed inventory approach presents a valuable opportunity for those who aspire to the job.
Distributed inventory refers to the strategic splitting of inventory across different fulfillment centers, to physically place inventory closer to major metropolises (such as New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Denver, or Los Angeles).
In a distributed inventory system, each time an order is placed on your ecommerce store, the distribution center closest to the customer will automatically fulfill the order.
This means that shipments have less distance to travel on average — and the less distance an order has to travel, the faster it is likely to arrive and the less expensive shipping will be.
Using this inventory storage strategy, Directors of Fulfillment can offer quick turnaround times for their business without breaking the bank.
Hear from ShipBob customers who manage fulfillment
“We now save a lot of money and ship faster based on distributed inventory. So far, we are shipping out of two of ShipBob’s fulfillment centers. We use the locations that optimize and reduce the distance traveled to get our products into our customers’ hands faster.
Using ShipBob, we are able to offer 2-day shipping via ground to 80% of our customer base, which is much cheaper than expedited air. We definitely see benefits with ShipBob’s 2-day shipping capabilities. With Amazon Prime and shoppers expecting 2-day shipping at this point, it’s definitely being chosen when it’s offered on our store.”
Lindsay Louise, Fulfillment & Retail Manager at Synchro
“I’ve talked to people who think they save money by fulfilling themselves. Their first question is always ‘is a 3PL worth the extra expense?’ We see outsourcing fulfillment as a cost-savings and believe it will save you money in the long run. 3PLs negotiate rates, give you back all the time you’d spend stuffing mailers, and reduce the errors you’d make messing up addresses.
We looked into opening our own warehouses and hiring employees, but couldn’t come close with what 3PLs charge for picking, packing, and shipping. We’d also be worried about scheduling fulfillment shifts, ordering boxes and shipping labels, and dealing with the extra headaches of running logistics. Most of all, those are hours we’d spend on tasks that are not scaling our business when we could be using those resources for growth.
You should spend time doing what you do best, and fulfillment is an easy task to take off your plate. Plus, we really couldn’t do it ourselves. Our order volume has seen ebbs and flows, and ShipBob has fulfilled over 10,000 shipments per month for us, with Black Friday/Cyber Monday and our summer season being our most in demand times of the year.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
Read more ShipBob case studies here.
P.S. Need help with your order fulfillment cycle? Let the trusted logistics experts at ShipBob help. Request a free quote by clicking below.
Director of fulfillment FAQs
Here are answers to the most common questions about Directors of Fulfillment.
What does a Director of Fulfillment do?
A Director of Fulfillment is in charge of developing and executing a company’s daily order fulfillment operations.
This role may have different job titles, including Fulfillment Manager, Logistics Operations Manager, or Order Fulfillment Director. Key responsibilities usually include coordinating and executing order fulfillment processes, managing warehouse workers, supply chain planning, tracking inventory, and analyzing key metrics to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
What does a Director of Fulfillment make?
Directors of Fulfillment in the US make an average of $64K to $97K. The median annual salary for this role is $81K. Salary offers may vary depending on a candidate’s experience level, education, certifications, and skills, as well as the location of the position.
How do you become a Director of Fulfillment?
Directors of Fulfillment typically obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a supply chain-related field. As a senior director, a Director of Fulfillment will typically need 5 or more years of management experience in the logistics, supply chain, or fulfillment industries, as well as demonstrably strong decision-making, problem-solving, and leadership skills.
In order to meet these qualifications, many candidates begin their careers as warehouse workers or fulfillment managers, and work their way up to being a director.
What skills do fulfillment directors need?
Directors of Fulfillment need strong interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills to successfully manage the internal and external relationships that affect the order fulfillment cycle.
Many employers prefer candidates to have previous experience working in logistics, supply chain, or fulfillment, the ability to consistently achieve KPIs, and a solid understanding of software and tools like TMS, WMS, and IMS.
Is a Director of Fulfillment and a Fulfillment Manager the same thing?
Yes and no. At some companies, the Director of Fulfillment and Fulfillment Manager titles share common responsibilities in the order fulfillment cycle (such as coordinating daily order fulfillment operations, tracking inventory, demand forecasting, and managing team members). Because of this, it may be more cost-effective for a company to hire one individual to perform all pertinent duties.
Companies with larger logistics teams can afford to separate the roles, and hire two individuals to serve two different purposes. In this case, a Fulfillment Manager typically manages a smaller team of warehouse workers and reports to a Director of Fulfillment. The Director of Fulfillment is responsible for strategic initiatives such as broader supply chain management and goal-setting.