Small businesses are unique in that their needs, operations, and processes are different from those of larger companies. Often times, many small businesses are still in a phase where they only have a few employees, yet they are relatively successful at the products and services they are offering.
But there comes a time when every small business needs to create the conditions that allow for growth. That means more business, more staff, and allowing more parties to help streamline or optimize your process. The need for small-business fulfillment services is one of the main areas in which this growth must be allowed to take place.
Find Fulfillment Partners You Can Trust
Your business has grown past the point where you can be expected to conduct all of the services yourself or with one or two other staff members. In order for your business to grow, you need to focus on your strengths and find partners who can help improve your weaknesses.
Order fulfillment is complicated, and it’s a service that directly impacts your bottom line. From customer interaction, customer satisfaction and retention, to the actual dollars that can be wasted if a proper fulfillment system isn’t put in place, the need for a third-party logistics (3PL) provider who can help your company grow is crucial.
From Local to Global
Another key aspect to think about when growing your company is that business is more global than ever. You may start off as an e-commerce retailer selling products locally, but with an experienced order fulfillment team, you can extend your delivery reach across countries, and even across seas, with low cost and no added physical infrastructure. You’ll just need a system that that can be scaled, which is why it becomes important to engage with a 3PL provider as early in your retail process as possible.
Elaborating on lower costs, working with a 3PL provider also allows fixed storage costs to now become variable costs. Storing products on your own means you pay for not just the space, but the utilities as well. And these costs stay the same month to month no matter how much inventory you have.
Partnering with a 3PL provider means you pay according to the space you occupy. This means that your costs can decrease during seasons when sales are typically slower and fewer products need to be stored. For small retail businesses, getting this type of flexibility is important to cash flow.
Keep Your Business Competitive
Just because your business is small right now doesn’t mean you want to keep it that way. Even if you don’t have plans of turning into a global corporation, you certainly want to maximize on the opportunity to be the most profitable and effective business possible. Small-business fulfillment services play a significant role in making that possible.
Online Product Fulfillment Challenges for New Retailers
Keeping up with the demand while trying to balance stock is something new retailers often struggle to manage. Also, small retailers sometimes sell products on their web sites that are not actually stocked in their inventory. This causes slowdowns with shipping, which ultimately impacts the customers. Experience in logistics is needed to find the correct balance, which either comes with time or by working with 3PL companies that are competent in their field.
Bulk Order Shipping
What becomes difficult for new online retailers is figuring out how to handle shipping for bulk orders. Mega e-retailers such as Amazon have set the standard for customer expectations when it comes to expediency on deliveries. That expectation doesn’t change for the consumer because of the size of the retailer. What ends up happening, however, is that smaller retailers don’t want to manage the intricacies of custom shipping rates and end up charging a flat fee. This either leaves money on the table or can cost retailers more if the shipping rates are higher.
Seasonal Order Fulfillment
We are approaching what will be the busiest time of the year for most retailers. The holiday season presents its own set of challenges for even the most seasoned retailers, so newer retailers really need to buckle down during this period. Ensuring there are enough items in stock and shipping items on time are some of the difficulties that stem from busy holiday seasons.
Again, the problem of order tracking has been heightened because of consumer expectation, and those expectations have been set by the e-retailer giants. Consumers now expect full transparency for their deliveries, including real-time tracking for their orders. This can be a tough task for small or new e-retailers who don’t want to implement the technology and would rather give flat rates. However, consumers notice these limitations, and not having these tracking offerings becomes an obstacle for your business to overcome, particularly if your shipping rates are higher.
Product returns are an inevitable part of the retail business. Having a system in place to track and accurately manage returns is crucial to your operations. Not only is it important from a customer service point of view, but your bottom line can be seriously impacted if your returns system is flawed or inconsistent.
APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a Miami-based specialist in e-commerce product fulfillment, direct-mail marketing, and product warehousing. We’ve stored, sorted, and delivered products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies, and we are more than prepared for the exciting challenges waiting in the new year. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or by email at [email protected] for more way third-party warehousing and fulfillment services can support and grow your business.