Expansion is the name of the game if you’re a small business.
Before you know it, word gets out that you’re the best online shop in your field, with great prices and fast shipping, and your orders can literally explode overnight. You can handle some amount of growth without needing to fundamentally change your operating procedures, but at some point, you’ll require a new plan to continue to keep up the pace.
For some online businesses, this might mean hiring more staff, renting a warehouse and working out contracts with shippers, but others may find that hiring a fulfillment service to help with the increased workload is a much more profitable option.
What Do eCommerce Fulfillment Services Do?
The beauty of hiring a full service logistics company is that these outside partners can handle as little or as much of the workload as you need. From warehousing and distribution to reverse logistics, an eCommerce fulfillment service is fully customizable.
Here are a few of the common functions that these companies handle:
- Inventory management. A 3rd party logistics company can help you maintain a tight count of your inventory. Along with counting the products that you have in stock, they will also track the products that are headed for the warehouse and reorder as necessary.
- Instead of having to cram your expanding inventory into your home, in a storage building or a small office, partnering with a 3PL means you’ll have scalable warehouse space available all the time. When products come in, your 3PL will store your products in their facility, no matter how many or how few you have. You only pay for the space and resources you use, so having a 3PL is often cheaper than doing your own warehousing.
- Picking and packing. It’s one thing to store your boxes in the warehouse, but quite another to pull them back out. Using bar code scanning, your 3PL partner can quickly find the items to fill each order and pack them in the most efficient manner possible to reduce shipping costs.
- Unlike shipping a single box, moving a warehouse full of products requires attention to detail and carefully negotiated contracts with a number of shippers. For each order your customers place, a 3PL will choose the shipper in their catalog who offers the best value and speed. They can also handle the paperwork for shipments coming in from other countries, so you can purchase direct from foreign manufacturers without any hassle.
- Reverse logistics. No one wants to deal with returns, but the way that you handle them can say a lot to your customer about their value to you. Your 3PL is experienced at dealing with reverse logistics so that the process is smooth and easy, turning occasional buyers into loyal customers.
Any online business owner can tell you that an expanding business is a huge opportunity. If you can manage your growth efficiently and maintain the same level of customer care, there’s no telling where your business might end up.