While you weren’t looking, your eCommerce store or the web extension of your brick-and-mortar shop hit a growth spurt — going from just a handful of orders a month to dozens or even hundreds a week.
This is great news, but it’s news that can be hard to handle if you’re not ready. When the orders are coming in faster than your can manage to complete the product fulfillment, it may be time to consider outsourcing.
The “O” Word
To many people, the word “outsourcing” still brings up images of American jobs sent overseas, never to return. The good news is that you can get the help you need without having to look to far-off lands. In fact, when it comes to order fulfillment, having a partner with experience in the same market as your customer base can help speed up deliveries and improve your customer experience exponentially. So, when you outsource your shipping and fulfillment, what you’re really doing is hiring an expert in storage and shipping to help you along.
How a 3PL Can Help
You may think you’re not ready for a 3rd party logistics company, but if your business is growing, they’re experts you definitely should consider. When the packing and shipping is taking too much time away from other vital activities, or customer orders are getting behind, a 3PL can help you by providing a variety of services, including:
- Warehousing. Small businesses are often actually held back when they grow too quickly, since their inventory quickly outpaces their storage facilities. You have to either invest large amounts of capital into larger warehouses or reduce inventory, both moves that can hurt your business if not carefully calculated. Renting only the warehouse space you need, even if that need changes seasonally and/or over time, can be a great solution to this perplexing problem.
- Inventory control. When a company’s business is about keeping warehouses organized, inventory control is second nature. 3PLs integrate with your software to improve your inventory control and allow you and your customers to see, in real time, when you’re running low on a product — even across platforms. You can even have your 3PL do the reordering when your popular items need restocking.
- Speedy shipping. You probably don’t have the luxury to start collecting the items in an order and packing them up as soon as your customers hit the check-out — but a 3PL does. Not only do they have relationships with shippers like UPS and FedEx that can get you faster shipping for less, they also have dedicated staff who can start pulling your orders together within minutes of payment.
As your business grows, it can pay to develop relationships with partners like 3PLs to help ensure that your company will continue to expand without barriers. No matter how big you get, most 3PLs are scalable, meaning they can continue to accommodate you until you’re large enough to justify your own logistics department.