Outsourcing order fulfilment is a big step to take, especially for a business owner, but the right fulfilment partner can help a online store flourish. Here's how, with some examples.
It’s no secret that starting a new online business can be tough and it can take time, but there are more tools available than ever from where you sell your products to who delivers them, that will help get you off to a flying start.
Getting on ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento, or marketplaces like Amazon and eBay is relatively easy and you can be set up as an online retail business in no time but that’s just the beginning and what comes next will be crucial to your success.
You’ll need to make sure you got your business branding and messaging sorted, your pricing is right, you’ve started to actively promote on social channels and through good SEO practices, you should start to see orders come in, but how you actually get the orders to the customer is vital if yaou don’t want to fail as you try to grow your business.
So why does it matter how you send your orders to your customers?
Let’s say a customer has found your business online, either through ranking highly on Google or from some well-placed social media advertising. They head to your online shop or marketplace or your website and place an order.
They’ve selected a delivery option based on their budget and needs. It might be an item they have ordered for themselves or a present for a loved one, either way they’ll be waiting excitedly for that moment when their order arrives.
Yet on the day it arrives damaged, or maybe it’s not left in a secure area or with a neighbour and they have to wait for it to arrive again, maybe it doesn’t arrive within the time they were told it would, worse still it doesn’t arrive at all.
While they may complain to you, and arrange for a refund or replacement product, they’ll definitely complain to their friends, and they certainly won’t buy from you again.
Of course, these are worse case scenarios and as a small business you may well be doing your order fulfilment yourself, after all you need to keep costs down to make sure you have funds available to grow your business.
With this in mind, you’re likely to be on top of your picking, posting, and packing and will no doubt have the personal touches to make sure any delivery issues are minimal, but there will (hopefully) be a time when you have so many orders, doing them in house is no longer feasible.
Speaking to a third-party mail fulfilment business is then something you must do to help you keep on top of running your business while having peace of mind customers are getting their orders when and how they expect.
So how does this help you grow your business?
- More time to do other things. If you and your team aren’t having to spend time packing orders and shipping them out then you can spend more time marketing, dealing with customer enquiries, researching and sourcing new products, building mutually beneficial business relationships and even looking at new avenues and areas to move into. If your time is no longer split between different roles, you have more time to spend doing what you really want to do… grow.
- Sending orders can be expensive, especially if you have multiple options for customers to choose from. Yes, you can pass this cost onto customers but if you are able to reduce those costs then you’ll be able to match or even beat you competitors. Mail fulfilment centres and business are able to pull together all deliveries from all their customers and transport them in bulk, this means they can keep costs down and pass them on to you.
- As with costs, you won’t just have to stick to the standard Royal Mail collection times. Outsourcing your postage and deliveries could give you more collection time options to open up more favourable delivery times for your customers.
This is an excellent way of really making sure there is true end to end professionalism from order to delivery, and it can help grow your business further too.
- Lower staff costs: you won’t need to employ more people to help with your own picking and packing, instead you’ll pay a cost-effective rate that covers the cost of trained staff doing it for you.
- Your dedicated outsourced team can call on other colleagues at moment’s notice to deal with any expected or unexpected increases in orders throughout the year, meaning your delivery times won’t suffer just because you have become busy.
- On the flip side, if sales do drop periodically you won’t have to worry about letting staff go or other fixed overheads as the fixed pricing of your mail fulfilment centre will cover it.
- Everything will be cheaper. We’ve talked about outsourced staff and bulk deliveries costs being reduced but packaging will be bulk purchased and storage will be charged just on what you use, so prices will be much lower than buying direct.
- Keeping up with fast changes in technology is another big problem facing many small businesses. Partnering with a mail fulfilment centre means you don’t have to worry about that as the processes will adjust with minimum impact to you.
While this might seem like a comprehensive list of benefits that come with outsourcing your delivery logistics and order fulfilment, it’s by no means exhaustive and there are many other things to consider.
Companies like Asendia work the world over constantly analysing transport and delivery costs, cross border costs, import and export taxes, and environmental considerations, all on behalf of their customers so all they need do is spend time running and growing their own businesses.
Australian skincare and beauty business, Bali Body, is one of the world’s most popular brands, making headlines with its Face Tan Water launch in March 2019 when one sold every 30 seconds on the day of its launch.
As they continued to grow and awareness of their products spread, they had an increased in orders from the other side of the world.
Not wanting to leave this as a one-off increase in business, they wanted to make sure these new customers had speedy deliveries at a cost they were happy with, so they’d come back time and again.
They started looking for a reliable fulfilment provider that was flexible enough to keep up with this fast-paced e-commerce space and was ideally based in the UK and native English speaking.
Asendia worked with Bali Body’s team to work out a solution that would help them make sure customers near and far had service that matched their increasingly popular products.
Bali Body say: “Asendia manages four of our six online stores - servicing the UK/EU along with Canada, Israel, Asia and the middle east. This involves a lot of different shipping providers and service levels making the task very difficult.
“Asendia has always been willing to work with us to find the best solution. They are flexible, understanding, and reliable which is exactly what we need.”
James Butterfield stated Chilly’s Bottles as a home business in London in 2010. As the business started to grow, he was joined by business partner, Tim Bouscarle and they worked together to crowdfund and rebrand the product.
Today, with high volumes of orders, they have plans to further extend their product range and need an affordable European fulfilment service to look after the pick and pack and distribution for overseas orders from one location.
Asendia’s fulfilment centre in Bedford provides Chilly’s with just that all under one roof. There’s flexible storage and pick and pack that can be scaled as their business grows.
This helps keep on top of thousands of international orders as those from the UK, with reliable end-to-end tracking, customer notifications, and cost-effective pricing.
With Asendia being based in the UK being a great advantage for Chilly's, having access to fulfilment centres in Asia and the USA when they take on those markets has also proven to be a big benefit to them.
Chilly’s says: “Working with Asendia has provided us with a whole new opportunity for the European market and having a high level of responsiveness and support from our Account Manager frees up our time so we are able to focus on the aspects of the business that we know best.”