Your product sales are increasing, your daily orders are larger in volumes, your business is expanding and so are your goals; and you’re looking for a great way to free up your time by helping you take care of things in-house. Time can be considered your greatest resource and it just makes total sense to enlist a business optimization procedure to give you just that. This is what fulfillment services are here for.
A fulfillment service is a third- party warehouse that prepares and ships orders for businesses that sell products and goods. It takes care of the process of storing products, packing orders and shipping goods to customers. Essentially, it involves everything operational and logistical that occurs behind the scenes from the time a customer places an order until they receive it.
If you’re growing fast and looking to switch up your game in handling orders, working with a provider that offers an overall expert view of your data and inventory allotment across warehouses will give you the most assistance and flexibility.
Say, your business just doesn't want to deal with the taxing process of packing orders to shipping, or you have just exceeded your existing warehousing capacity to a point where you’re having a hard time in shipping out the orders to your customers yourself. This is when fulfillment services might just be the perfect solution. This is just a great way to overcome logistic challenges faced by your expanding business.
How does fulfillment services work?
Operations may differ slightly depending on the fulfillment service company of your choice but their main function is pretty common: They act as a base of operation for all your order prepping and shipping needs. As soon as they receive the order from customers, they proceed to sorting your stocks, picking out the items, packing them, labeling them and finally shipping them to the customer. Their job does not end until the ordered items are successfully delivered to the recipients.
Another great feature is that fulfillment centers also double as warehouse spaces for inventory storage, allowing you to hold onto more products. Some fulfillment service providers have multiple fulfillment centers, allowing e-commerce companies to deliver fast and affordable shipping to a diverse customer base thanks to more range in geographic locations.
Order fulfillment services work typically as follows:
- Your business inventory is delivered to the fulfillment company
- The fulfillment company receive, sorts, and stores the stock
- Customers place their orders to your company
- The customers’ orders are sent to the order fulfillment company
- The orders are picked from the inventory, packed, properly labeled and shipped to your customers
Most times, your fulfillment provider will also take care of any customer returns that come up. This will depend on the prevailing agreement between you and the fulfillment company.
How can fulfillment services help your small business grow?
Ensuring your logistics scale to meet the growing demands of your customers is a key challenge for small businesses. By not having to do the work themselves, retailers are said to expand 200% a year by working with a fulfillment service provider. Not to mention, you do not need to invest in your own logistics infrastructure when you run out of space. You can significantly save up money on storage, systems and staffing.
Once you’ve outsourced your order fulfilment, you’ll also get more time to work on more important things for business, while being rest assured that your customer satisfaction is being taken care of with fast and accurate shipping. This can definitely have a meaningful impact on your business’s growth.
Listed below are some benefits.
- Save time, money and efforts on storage and shipping
- Improve customer service through fast, accurate delivery and returns
- Expand business to meet growing demand or seasonal peaks
- Save yourself from pulling an all-nighter for product preparation and packing
- Fewer lost products
- More time for marketing, planning or new product development
- No need to rent or buy extra storage space
- No need to hire additional customer service or product prep staff
- No need to invest in warehouse or complicated inventory management systems
- Competitive rates on a wide range of fast, international shipping options
- Your customers may enjoy same-day dispatch and accurate shipping of orders
- Track orders in real-time and initiate returns online
Reasons why you should not get a fulfillment service provider
The truth is, there is no single solution that applies perfectly to every business. It is not a one-size fits all, and there will be certain instances when using a fulfillment service provider just might bring more trouble to your company. Therefore, it is crucial to take into consideration the different factors that will put you on the spot when it comes to choosing your service provider or even when deciding to get one.
Do not get one when:
- Your business has limited cash flow
If you don’t have the funds available, you may need to do the packaging and shipping yourself. You may need to bootstrap your business and use your own time and effort as your initial investment.
- Your business is just too highly specialized
A lot of logistics companies offer customization services of different sorts. However, there are chances that you won’t find a company that does exactly what you want. Most especially if your business has highly specialized and specific needs in packaging, labelling, shipment services, etc. sometimes taking the reins yourself on the fulfillment process is the best way to proceed.
- Your business deals with a limited daily order volume
If your business is only taking in a small quantity of orders a day then it might be too soon for you to consider outsourcing order fulfillment. Businesses with a limited daily order volume should stick with managing things on their own or with a few employees, to avoid losses. Consider outsourcing when you hit around 5 to 10 shipments a day.
The fulfillment service industry is skyrocketing at a fast pace even more so now that the business trends are gearing towards the use of business optimization tools and services to maximize the efficiency and convenience in business processes. It is important to study your business plans, needs, budgets and forecasts, and thoroughly consider your alternatives and prospects when considering outsourcing fulfillment services.
Hopefully, this article has given you a broader understanding of the potential of fulfillment services for you and your business.
Edited by Chooli