2020 saw a huge boom in the amount of online retail stores created by tons of bored at-home individuals looking to make a quick buck.
In fact, Shopify reports a 71% increase in the growth of their platform just last year alone.
So with this unprecedented influx of newly minted entrepreneurs, it’s time we delve deep into the world of shipping, and more specifically eCommerce fulfillment, to help the new guys get off their feet.
What is outsourcing eCommerce fulfillment?
The literal definition goes as follows, “fulfillment refers to the process of preparing and delivering a customer’s order.”
Alright, that might be too simple for our needs.
Essentially, for a Shopify store owner, or any eCommerce do-it-yourself platform for that matter, eCommerce fulfillment starts once an order is placed and the shipping label is printed. From there you have to get your package, put all the purchased items inside of it, add any extra packaging that reflects your brand, and then seal it. Then it’s off to your nearest post office where you pay an additional shipping fee based on the dimensions and weight of the box and ship it out to your customer. By the way, this doesn’t even cover the potential need to store inventory or backlogged orders in some sort of warehouse or physical space.
Now to some entrepreneurs, this part of the process is fun and they love putting their heart and soul into each package so that they know that whatever is sent out is a complete reflection of who they are and what their brand represents — but it’s not a sustainable solution long term.
If you want your eCommerce store to grow, you need to invest in a 3PL, or other external help, to get your eCommerce business working for you, rather than against you.
What are some reasons to start outsourcing order fulfillment?
In order to scale, you must be willing to entrust some parts of your business to be handled by external third parties, and here are some reasons why:
*Before we start, check out this blog that goes more into detail on the benefits of outsourcing fulfillment services to better grow your brand.
Faster order turnaround times
Time is a precious resource that needs to be leveraged for the growth and success of your business; we only have so much of it, so it’s best not to waste it. Outsourcing your eCommerce fulfillment can boost the number of packages your business can ship and fulfill, which in turn will increase the amount of revenue your business can generate.
Reduce operation costs
Being a lone wolf has its benefits, but when it comes to scaling, outsourcing at the right time within your eCommerce business growth cycle will be incredibly beneficial long term. When partnering with a 3PL, you can expect to significantly reduce expenses thanks to the negotiating power and leverage that the 3PL has established within the shipping industry. This means you’re paying less for every packaged shipped than you would independently, and even once your orders pick up, the cost per package fulfilled will quickly fade into the background.
Streamline order fulfillment
We talked about how some shop owners prefer to do the fulfillment themselves, but for most, this is a process that should be outsourced, and done so easily and cost-effectively.
Forget the difficulties and nuances that come with managing every aspect of eCommerce fulfillment, and trust the process to a 3PL. With their expertise and workforce, they will be able to get your eCommerce business shipping, storing, returning and tracking packages within minutes, and all from a single dashboard — convenient, cost-effective and secure.
Opportunities to scale
Don’t work in your business, work for your business. The more time you spend doing ground-level operations, the more you will lose through opportunity cost.
Think of a partnership with a 3PL as a long-term investment, the more you can outsource your more mundane work, the more time you can spend focusing on building your brand and expanding to wider audiences.
When is the right time to outsource your eCommerce fulfillment?
So we talked about what eCommerce fulfillment is, and some reasons why your business should pursue a 3PL partnership to help with scaling, but when do you know your business is beginning to scale?
Here are some clues that can help you identify when the time is right:
Unable to keep with increasing orders
This is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Once orders start rolling in, it can be difficult to manage the fulfillment process alone, this is usually a good sign that it is time to expand your operations.
Current Infrastructure Doesn’t Support Your eCommerce Growth
The world is living in a gig-economy, and that means everything is expected to be instant. Want a cab? Uber. Need some food delivered? SkipTheDishes. And that same level of service is expected from small, independent online shop owners. Don’t fall behind the curve, and deliver quick and reliable eCommerce fulfillment and shipping to all your customers for optimal customer satisfaction.
Inefficient Internal Expertise and Technology
3PLs have an advantage besides their negotiating leverage, and that lies in their technology. When operating solo, things need to get done manually, and manual labour takes time, time that your business doesn’t have.
Getting the right infrastructure in place, as well as the technology, can help streamline your eCommerce fulfillment process, and generate your business more money, provide stability and give you a cushion to fall back on if any unforeseen circumstance occurs.
Custom kitting and packing is time-consuming
Again, it boils down to time, and how finite of a resource it is. Once you’ve designed the look and feel of your brand, it’s time to hand it off to experts who can take care of it because at the end of the day, your business and brand can’t run without you, do you want to get stuck packing orders all day?
Example: Your business runs a subscription box service monthly, and your orders jumped from 10 a month to well over 100. That level of surge is great, but comes at a cost of finding physical space for storage, hiring on help with packing, and everything else in between, but there is a better, more reliable way to ensure all your packages get to the right customers on time, and in one piece.
You are out of physical space
Managing warehouse space is a costly endeavour especially if your business is just starting to grow. However, a reliable 3PL can have your back on this one, by providing you with not only the space necessary to store all inventory but also with a team of dedicated agents to handle any necessary ground-level operations to make sure your eCommerce fulfillment is completely taken care of.
Fulfillment services by eShipper+
eShipper+ is our solution for the new, modern-day online shop owner in helping them manage their inventory, track their packages, and generate customized reports. We use our unique Warehouse Management Software (WMS) to provide the most optimal and efficient solution to from same-day fulfillment tracking, to packaging advice and even support with sourcing materials — we do it all.