Don’t get buried in order fulfillment when you could be marketing and sourcing product. If you are an ecommerce provider or etailer, outsourcing order fulfillment can save you time – time to focus on making more money.
Logistics with filling orders is one of the most complicated tasks in running an e-commerce business. Today’s customer expects on-time and correct deliveries, great shipping rates, and easy returns. Managing this on your own can become the most time-consuming component of your business, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are some benefits of outsourcing to determine if it’s the right fit for you now, in the future, or never.
Scale and Grow
Outsourcing order fulfillment may seem overwhelming, but for many people it makes sense, saving time which allows the business owner to focus on selling more. This shift can allow your business to scale and grow, and in doing so, pay for itself.
There is usually a physical limitation to what products can be warehoused. The ecommerce store will eventually need to purchase or lease more space if they are storing goods. When the business outsources instead, they use the warehouse the third-party fulfillment provider has – making the space easy to expand, without relocation.
Packing and Shipping
Packing and shipping can become more streamlined with a third-party provider is doing the work. As you grow, and if you intend to grow, you will eventually be spending more and more time packing and shipping and will need to find a way to reduce the time or you will find it cutting into sales. This creates a backward momentum that will prevent growth.
Depending on the products you are shipping, you may experience returns, and processing them. When outsourcing order fulfillment, the provider typically manages returns on your behalf. This can keep sales moving forward, rather than interrupted by handling the return process. Again, as the business grows, this will be a huge time saver.
When to Keep Order Fulfillment In-House
Keeping fulfillment in-house is a benefit if the following conditions apply:
Your Products are Customized, Handmade or Fragile
If your customization is on a per-box level, or each item is so customized or fragile that only you can pick, pack and ship it, outsourcing order fulfillment is likely not a good option.
You Have Space
Whether you are still growing and not taking up space or have a plethora of warehouse or storage space already, you are fine for in-house fulfillment. As you grow or carry more inventory, you may reconsider, including reviewing the costs of outsourcing in relationship to buying or leasing more property.
You Have Help
Some businesses chose to hire a subcontractor or employee to handle the task of fulfillment. Spending time on fulfillment is not usually the preferred task of the business owner, nor is it the best use of their time. If you have found reliable help for picking, packing and shipping so you are able to work on building your business, you have found a great solution.
If subcontractor or employee management becomes too large of a task, or becomes inconsistent, consider a third-party provider. Often a provider will be less expensive than an employee, especially when taxes, benefits and human capital management comes into play.
You Have Time
If finding the right packaging materials – boxes, wrap, tape – assembling shipments, printing labels, and making a trip to the post office are still manageable, then it isn’t quite time to outsource. Once you are no longer able to keep up with the volume of work involved with fulfillment, it is time to shop for a provider.
You Have the Skill
Some people really love logistics, while others don’t. If you are one of those business owners who has the skill to fulfill large volumes of shipments and manage returns in a way that provides high quality customer service, that is true talent. Use your expertise to negotiate shipping and see the improvement on your bottom line. If this isn’t you, consider outsourcing order fulfillment for better customer reviews and ratings and the corresponding increase in sales.
You Have Great Inventory Control
Outsourcing fulfillment can tighten inventory control with systems and processes that manage counts and picking accuracy. Properly managing returns is also a part of inventory control – making sure items are available for resale and adding back into inventory, or determining defects and removing them from circulation.
Properly managing inventory is a task that can be outsourced, but if it is something you are skilled and able to manage, you should, at least until you grown larger than your time will allow.
Considering outsourcing order fulfillment? By offering prompt, accurate and affordable fulfillment solutions, Plumb Marketing lets you focus on building your ecommerce business, not packing and shipping. From receiving, inventory management, picking and packing, shipping and tracking, we handle it all! Contact us today for a quote and let us handle fulfillment while you scale up and grow!