As your business grows and the demand for your awesome products increases, you may find that you need help with order fulfillment. Running an e-commerce business requires creative solutions to many different problems that may pop up as your business develops and expands, including the struggle to fulfill orders with quality and efficiency while balancing the rest of the needs of your business and brand.
The good news is that there are many options to choose from regarding how you want to process and ship your orders to your valuable customers. Many small businesses begin with in-house fulfillment, which means that everything in your business happens under one roof — your roof. That can be a lot to handle, so many choose to incorporate third-party fulfillment into their business.
Third-party fulfillment centers have the space, technology, and employees necessary for fulfilling orders that may not be available within a small business. The first choice to make is if you want to contract with a third-party fulfillment service for some or all of your order fulfillment needs.
Many third-party fulfillment centers offer comprehensive services, meaning they take care of inventory, order processing, packaging, shipping, and any returns. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to outsource all those services. Instead, you can choose a hybrid of in-house and third-party fulfillment to fit the needs of your business with the resources you have available.
In this article, we will help you figure out where to start and break down the options for each step where you may need help with order fulfillment, starting with inventory management.
Inventory refers to the items used to produce items for sale or resale. It is essential for a business to keep track of what items are in stock, where they are located in the inventory, and maintain a supply chain to restock if needed. In addition to the many other responsibilities of running a business, this can be difficult to stay on top of.
Storing and managing an inventory requires a large amount of physical space, organizational skills, oversight, and management. That’s a lot of manpower and configuration. Not all businesses have the resources to successfully manage their inventory in-house without additional cost to the company or business. Additionally, having limited space can also limit the number and variety of products you offer.
This is where a third-party fulfillment center can help. By contracting with a third-party fulfillment company, you can have access to one or more warehouses in which you can store your inventory at a separate location from where the day-to-day operations of the business occur.
This frees up space to dedicate to other aspects of your business and allows companies to offer a wider variety of products. What would you do with more space? Would you hire more employees, expand your storefront, or move your office out of your basement?
With a third-party fulfillment company taking care of your inventory, why not all three? Weigh the pros and cons of having your inventory stored and managed via in-house fulfillment versus third-party fulfillment, then decide what is right for you and your business.
The next choice to improve order fulfillment is to tackle the next step in the process, which is order processing. You probably already have a system in place for recording the items in an order and then retrieving, packaging, and shipping them. Many times, third-party fulfillment centers can integrate into that system.
If you use Shopify or another popular e-commerce integration system, a third-party fulfillment center can build on your already existing system and make it more efficient, possibly saving you time and money.
Plus, having your inventory managed by the same team can prevent errors that lead to overselling items. This leaves you with more time and energy to spend on the other aspects of your business and life outside work.
Once the order has been processed and packaged, it’s time to ship it to the customer. Whether you are handling shipping in-house or with a third-party company, it’s important to choose an effective shipping method that provides the necessary services and delivery times without exorbitant costs.
Many fulfillment centers have established agreements with shipping companies for lower freight rates because these larger fulfillment centers with many different products from a variety of smaller businesses can ensure a greater number of consistent packages and shipments than small businesses can provide on their own. This means lower shipping costs for both companies and customers.
If items do need to be returned, this process can be made much simpler with the help of a fulfillment center versus handling the returns yourself. Companies may still need to coordinate specific refunds and returns from time to time, based on how much of the process is outsourced and the circumstances of the return.
In general though, third-party fulfillment centers can manage the return process and its impact on inventory without additional hassles and frustrations for both your business and your customers.
Each of these stages in the fulfillment process can be improved with the help of a third-party fulfillment center, so it’s up to you how much you want to contract out or continue taking care of within your business operations in-house.
Make Fulfillment Better and Easier with Mintfulfill
Mintfulfill was developed out of real experiences from real business owners who understand where you may need help with order fulfillment. Our automated system eliminates many of the costs and hassles associated with shipping orders from an e-commerce business.
Not only will buyers receive their orders from your business promptly with quality shipping materials and cutting-edge processes, but they will also receive a delightful mint. This small treat is a simple reminder that we take your business seriously and focus intently on your customer’s satisfaction.
The team at Minfulfill understands that the relationship with businesses should benefit both parties and help each to be more successful. By helping to grow your business, we can grow our own. Contact us today to see how we can help scale your business and allow you to spend more time doing what you want.