So you started an eCommerce website, filled it with products and started promoting your site. To your delight you are being found and you start getting a few orders a day. If you are like many of the start-up companies out there you have your products in the garage, basement or spare bedroom. You pick and pack your daily orders and either process the shipping labels at home too or drive to an UPS/FedEx store or go the post office. This system, though time consuming works out for the first two months. Then your daily order average goes up to between 10 to 20 order and you find yourself spending a couple hours a day doing orders. Time not spent on growing your business and you ask yourself… is it time to find a fulfillment partner?
Here are some questions to ask yourself prior to reaching out to a fulfillment company. Knowing some or all the answers to these will not only help you understand your needs but will also save time.
The Big One: is it time to move to a fulfillment company?
- Is it time to move to a fulfillment partner? Does it make sense? Probably the most important question you need to ask yourself. Only you will know where that line is and if you have crossed it. Having your orders fulfilled will cost something, more or less depending on your packing needs. Most companies though have proficient systems in place and can turn your orders around in quick order. Your time is valuable and could be better spent growing your business, bringing more customers to your site and ultimately making more sales. Only you will know when it is time to make that switch.
What are Your Fulfillment Needs…
- What is your present and anticipated order volume?
- What is your average number of items per order?
- How many SKUs will you carry with your fulfillment partner?
- How are your items to be packed and are there any special packaging requirements?
- How much space does your inventory take up?
- Will there be returns? If so how should returns be dealt with?
What Will Be Your Shipping Needs…
- Which carriers and services with those carriers will you offer?
- Do you want to offer same day shipping?
- Do you or will you want to ship internationally? Doing so could increase your client base but there are extra steps involved.
- Will your orders ever ship via a trucking service on a skid?
What are Your Technology Needs…
- How will orders be sent to your fulfillment partner? Email, import file or by logging into your system and printing or downloading? This maybe dictated by your current systems but your partner should be to work with you in finding a cost effective solution.
- Will you need inventory / order management or do you have a system in place that your fulfillment partner will work in? If you have a system that tracks inventory, order details and tracking, can your partner work within your system?
Other Things to Consider…
- Will your products need special handling prior to shipping? Clothing should be sealed in clear plastic bags prior to shipping. Maybe it would need to be folded ahead of time? Maybe your product will need special labels applied before it is packed. Taking into consideration these types of items will save you from unexpected costs later on.
- Will you need your fulfillment partner to perform any type of customer service functions? Maybe you want to have them do your phone and email support? Your partner should be able to assist you on many levels – including customer service issues.
I know when a prospective clients reaches out to us we would ask many of the above to get a good understanding of your needs. Hopefully this article will help you down the path of finding that perfect fulfillment partner and ultimately to your success.
Tucker Roveto, president
The Fulfillment Company