Watching the sales come in from your online business is exciting. But as things continue to progress, managing your own order fulfilment can quickly become the most stressful part of your day-to-day operations.
In a fast-paced digital economy, customers expect quick receipt of goods and cost-effective delivery options. If your business is struggling to keep up with demand, you may lose your competitive advantage.
Reliability is your biggest asset when building a brand. Inconsistencies in delivery can dissuade customers from buying and also negatively impact public perception of your services.
It's essential to prioritise setting up an effective order fulfilment system before you start operating at capacity. There are subtle signs which will indicate that perhaps it's no longer feasible to fulfil orders in house. Understandably, some businesses may be hesitant to outsource this task, fearing the potential added costs. But, by taking a long term view regarding the growth of your business, you will inevitably save time and resources.
There'll be numerous signs to indicate that it's time to partner up with an order fulfilment service provider and free up your time to focus on optimising your business.
Mountains of admin
As your stockpile continues to grow, you'll need a sophisticated inventory system to help you track what's coming in and out of your warehouse. Although you are very likely to make use of stock management software, if you're not used to handling large volumes of inventory at scale, the likelihood of costly mistakes rises.
The process of checking in returns, assessing the reasons for the return, and taking the appropriate action, also requires a fair amount of admin. Some businesses lose money purely because they don't have the time or resources to handle their returns properly.
An order fulfilment centre can deal with your entire inventory management and process your local returns. This relieves a tremendous amount of pressure from your business and allows you to downsize your infrastructure if necessary.
Catering to international customers won't follow the same formula as it does for your local buyers. There's customs taxes and speed of delivery to consider. Your international buyers will expect the same level of service (if not better) as they get from local vendors. If you're trying to accommodate these kinds of demands from abroad while also dealing with all the paperwork, things will eventually become too cumbersome and costly.
A third-party order fulfilment centre may have a warehouse in the destination or region you are looking to sell into. They can store, package, and send your deliveries on your behalf, as well as handle your returns. This alleviates a lot of the pressures that come with venturing into new markets because the fulfilment company should already have established links and best practices that apply to that particular territory.
Outsourcing your order fulfilment for international shipment immediately positions you for expansion and easier access into new markets.
You may be juggling different carrier services to try and accommodate the various needs and locations of your customers. This model may be sufficient at first, but you'll be able to save a lot more by negotiating better deals and discounts when partnering with an order fulfilment house. If you meet the volume requirements to be eligible for such offers, you will save lots of time and money by allowing your service provider to handle all the particulars.
Another factor to consider is, as your business grows, you'll naturally require more storage space for your inventory. This often means higher rental fees and contracts to commit to. Equally, if your sales are affected by a demand surge, you may not have enough inventory on hand due to the size of your current facility, causing you to miss out on a fantastic opportunity that may arise.
These are all indicators that it's time to look for a shipment centre which allows you the flexibility to stockpile as much or as little as you'd like. You don't have to commit to renting vast spaces, but you can also enjoy the benefits of building your inventory in preparation for seasonal or sporadic changes in demand.
Managing your own stock in-house can be a costly drain on your human resources. If there are better places within the business to be allocating talent and skills – such as your marketing and product development projects – it may become increasingly challenging to juggle the stock management aspect of running your business.
A third-party order fulfilment centre will have an inventory tracking system that can integrate with your infrastructure and regularly report on stock level. In some cases, they may even take full ownership of the restocking process including labelling goods on your behalf.
You'll immediately see the results of having a more efficient and systematised method of receiving and storing stock, allowing you to be prepared for dispatch at all times.
We've worked with many businesses at the start of their outsourced fulfilment journeys and helped them to scale up by taking advantage of our knowledge and expertise in the international and domestic shipping realm. Asendia's extensive network of carriers around the globe allows us to offer the best value rates to our customers and the reassurance that their e-commerce sales are delivered as exactly as promised. If you're curious to see how we can improve your shipment strategy and customer experience, get in touch with us today.