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How To Know When You’ve Outgrown Self-Fulfillment

There’s a certain balance to running an eCommerce business.

You probably know when you need to upgrade your site, or when it’s time to offer some coupons to your loyal email followers, but will you know when you’ve outgrown self-fulfillment?

This is one of the most vital transitions for small eCommerce companies, but it’s also a milestone that’s so often missed by business owners. Partnering with a 3rd party logistics company can and will make sense as your sales increase, but if you’re not sure when to form that relationship, we can definitely help.

These are just a few reasons to shift from self-fulfillment to a 3PL partnership:

  • You’re out of time. You may be going hard seven days a week, but what is that ultimately accomplishing? Instead of wasting your valuable time on packing and shipping, you could be building your business or, yes, even taking a much-needed vacation. Self-fulfillment only saves you money until you no longer have the time to do the things that were making your order fulfillment so crazy to begin with.
  • You’re out of space. Your apartment might be a nice place to live, but it’s probably not that great of a warehouse. Even if you have rented warehouse space, there’s going to be a point where you have to decide if you’re going to rent more in order to meet seasonal demands or store less and risk being out of stock on a regular basis. Partnering with a 3PL eliminates the need for this decision, since you can use as much or as little space as you need each month.
  • You want to expand your product range. It’s tricky enough to keep up with a dozen or so products, but as your grow, your product range should, too. How will you keep track of 50 SKUs or 100 SKUs? Do you have the software and hardware and organizational systems in place to track so many items? Most small businesses don’t, but their 3PLs do. With high-tech equipment that keeps precise inventories, it’s easy to expand your product offerings to your heart’s desire and nothing will ever get lost or misplaced.
  • You need more data. At some point, you’re going to want to know more about how many units you’ve shipped, how long it takes to make a sale, how many products should be kept in inventory and a million other things about your merchandise. Sure, you can keep meticulous records manually, but it’s a lot easier to let your 3PL scan your products as they go through the pick, pack and ship process and as they travel to the customer’s door. They can even track how many of which items are returned if you choose reverse logistics services.

Outgrowing self-fulfillment is a huge marker of success for a small business like yours. Instead of stifling your own growth, you can give your company explosive potential by partnering with an 3PL that can scale with you as you grow.


March 14, 2017
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