How to Craft a Winning Strategy for Small Business Order Fulfillment
Adapting your small business order fulfillment needs to a landscape radically altered by the coronavirus pandemic is fraught with challenges. With the pandemic leading to some unsafe working conditions and unfortunate layoffs, it’s vital that you determine what changes are needed to optimize your fulfillment process. Doing so can help your business save money, maximize your profits, extend your reach, and improve the customer service experience your company offers. Find out how to evaluate your business’s fulfillment process from the ground up in order to streamline it for today’s business environment.
Evaluate Your Business’s Needs
There are some common signs to watch for that indicate your company could benefit from outsourced small business order fulfillment. If your business is subject to cyclical sales or large, unexpected spikes, it makes more sense to outsource your order fulfillment management rather than paying for a warehouse and attendant staff year-round. If your business is growing, you might require a fulfillment partner to keep up with your company as it outpaces your facilities. Finally, you should outsource your fulfillment if you are taking too much time handling it rather than focusing on the long-term growth of your company.
Conduct a cost analysis to decipher if it’s a better financial decision to outsource your order fulfillment or to do it in-house. However, price alone shouldn’t be the only factor you use to determine if you outsource your fulfillment. Your goal is to grow your company, and the right fulfillment partner may provide the expertise and resources that you need to reach new markets in a timely manner.
Select the Tasks to Outsource
Depending on your small business order fulfillment needs, you might outsource everything to a partner or only a handful of duties. You may have trouble finding a partner that has the shipping and fulfillment services you need or you might discover that the trade-off simply isn’t worth it for certain tasks. Take a look at your company’s strengths, finances, ability to meet current demand, and projected sales to determine which tasks should be outsourced and which you’re better off doing in-house. Some of the most commonly outsourced fulfillment tasks are the following:
- Storage: An order fulfillment provider will have additional warehouse space that you can use to store inventory.
- Inventory Management: Instead of keeping track of your inventory, you can simply have a partnered logistics company do it for you.
- Picking and Packing: A fulfillment provider can pick items from the warehouse and pack them as orders come in. Some may be able to use your own specialty packaging, but many will require that you use their process.
- Shipping: A logistics provider can arrange to have your items shipped via their own carrier, which can also reduce your overall shipping costs.
- Returns: Processing returns can be taxing on your company, but an order fulfillment company can handle them for you.
- Customer Service: Some outsourcers will have a customer service department that can handle any questions related to shipping.
Vet Warehousing and Fulfillment Companies
When vetting potential warehousing and order fulfillment companies, look for one that serves businesses in your industry and companies that are similar to your own. They should have a great reputation with customers and make deliveries on time, as any delay can negatively impact your own business’s reputation. You’ll also want to choose an order fulfillment company that is able to reliably service your customers in their geographic locations. While price is an important factor, you’ll want a fulfillment partner whose capabilities complement your business and help it grow.
Monitor Your Order Fulfillment Company
Once you’ve hired an order fulfillment company, you’ll have to routinely monitor it to ensure everything is running as planned and that it’s truly the best fit for your organization. Choose a company that offers real-time analytics tracking so you can make the best decision regarding your inventory. Check to see what improvements your fulfillment partner is making to the shipping process to keep your costs down. It’s also advised to visit the fulfillment center once or twice a year to get a sense of their operations and to maintain your relations.
Is Your Business Looking for Shipping and Fulfillment Services?
There are many order fulfillment companies that cater to small businesses, but it’s likely that only a handful will be suitable partners for your business. On top of those factors, the company you choose needs to earn your trust with your products. Ship My Orders has a long history of providing caring, dedicated to our customers and can help your business grow by letting you focus on your strengths. For all of your small business order fulfillment and third party logistics service needs, contact us today.