At some point, every ambitious online business needs to scale. Expanding beyond that early period of rapid growth and operational independence is a daunting prospect, but the transition from plucky startup to established brand is what secures continued success.
In addition to hiring the right people to help grow your business and physically expanding the operation to larger premises, brands that sell online face a major challenge regarding order fulfillment. There comes a time when even the most customer-focused CEO must stop packing orders and start planning strategy, which is when the important consideration of outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment arises.
How Outsourcing E-commerce Fulfillment Helps a Business to Scale
There are some things that even an owner with daily involvement in the operational side of the business cannot anticipate, or information to which he or she has no access. Managing cargo movements and ensuring timely fulfillment is a full-time job for any growing business, which is why so many owners turn to a third-party for assistance.
Here are four ways that outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment can take your online business to the next level:
- 1. It brings immediate access to experience: Any order fulfillment questions you’d previously been unable to answer, you now have a motivated and knowledgeable resource to provide a measured response. Any partner with years in the business will have handled most of the operational challenges you face many times before, meaning they’re well-placed to help you navigate increasingly complicated fulfillment scenarios.
- 2. More experience means improved service: That experience doesn’t just help you plan for the future, though, it also holds the potential to deliver rapid results in terms of service levels. If you’ve been struggling to stay up to speed with a surge in orders or unsure how to get your products to customers in a reliable and timely manner, a fulfillment partner will find ways to make that happen. Furthermore, if you build in service level agreements, there are clear targets and incentives for reaching those levels.
- 3. It gives you greater access to economies of scale: Your overall shipping expenses will inevitably go up as your order volume expands, but that doesn’t mean your price per unit shipped and other costs have to increase exponentially. A good fulfillment partner will help you to negotiate better carrier rates find ways to cut shipping costs, in a manner that makes sense for your business.
- 4. Outsourcing helps you establish a long-term fulfillment solution: There’s a limit to the volume you can ship on your own, but bring in the right fulfillment partner and you can plan for the future. A service with that perfect blend of experience and available resources will map out a fulfillment growth strategy to meet everything from your next seasonal peak to your long-term growth forecasts. They’ll also point out any potential bumps along the road and offer the solutions you need to stay on track.
Don’t wait for an unexpected surge in orders to figure out how your e-commerce business will scale. The potential for costly fulfillment errors and lost customers is simply too great to leave this issue until the last minute.
Before your online business reaches its operational capacity, start your research to understand where that breaking point is and what kind of help you’ll need to handle it.
Outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment means letting go of one part of your operation, but it opens up a whole new path to realize your vision for the business and frees up time to make the strategic decisions that will maintain growth for years to come.