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If you run an online store, then you know that shipping and delivery is a critical part of the customer experience, but you also understand how hard it can be to nail. And, if you’re like most ecommerce businesses, you may not have the time or resources to handle fulfilment in-house.

That’s where an ecommerce fulfilment service comes in. These services can take care of everything from order processing and packing to shipping and delivery. So, if you’re looking for a way to outsource your fulfilment needs, here are some things to consider:

 

What is Ecommerce Fulfilment?

Ecommerce fulfilment is the complete process of a customer making an order on your website through to when it arrives at their door. Examples of ecommerce fulfilment include collecting payments for products, packing up items in boxes and bags, processing returns, and printing out shipping labels.

Getting this right is extremely important for merchants transferring product inventory to warehouses or 3PL fulfilment partners – whether they are drop-shipping or have their own stock. If this process goes wrong it can lead to dissatisfied customers, issues with chargeback rights, financial penalties from payment providers, negative reviews, lost sales opportunities, and much more.

 

Why is fulfilment Important?

For merchants, incorrect fulfilment can easily lead to lost sales and happy customers. Online shoppers can be fickle – if they have a negative experience with your company then you’ll lose that customer for good, or at least until they feel like shopping around once more. Therefore, getting the fulfilment process right is vital if you want to keep your business afloat and grow into the future.

The same goes for 3PL providers who ship products on merchants’ behalf under their own brand – it’s all about delivering the best possible experience for customers so they buy again in the future. It’s just as important to maintain excellent feedback here too because unhappy buyers will also share their opinions on social media which has the potential to impact any new buyers that may be in an existing customer’s social circle.

 

Don’t go at it alone

People are often tempted by the idea of handling their own supply chain, but this is not something you should take lightly if your business is growing rapidly.

There are too many things that can go wrong – from stock loss through to negative customer reviews if poor packaging or if missed deliveries occur. It’s far better to leave it in the hands of a professional warehouse or fulfilment partner who has experience with scaling up their clients’ operations.

 

How to find the right service provider for your business

When you’re looking for an ecommerce fulfilment partner, it’s important to choose a company that understands your business and the challenges you face.

They should offer:


Good rates:
Fulfilment, storage and returns can add up quickly, so make sure they won’t break the bank.


Specialist services: Make sure that they know what they’re doing when it comes to your niche product lines such as jewellery, plus-size clothing or vintage goods for example.

 

What do fulfilment services cost?

Fulfilment services generally charge businesses by the hour or per unit or per pallet. Costs for receiving, storage, pick and pack, shipping, kitting or bundling, returns, custom packaging, gift services, and setup are tallied. Transactional (e.g., receiving) and recurring (e.g., storage) costs are then added up.

It’s best to find a partner that suits you and your budget as well as your shipping needs.

 

Utilising technology & automation

We all know that good investment in technology is key to staying ahead of the competition. There are many benefits to working with a provider with an automated warehouse system, including:

Speed: Fast order processing speeds will give you a competitive advantage over your rivals – especially if you use platforms like Shopify which don’t natively integrate with warehouses (e.g FBA).

Accuracy: Automated machinery can help improve accuracy rates during packing and dispatching processes, resulting in fewer errors and happier customers.

Scalability: Investing in affordable warehousing or 3PL solutions means your business can grow without worrying about demand putting pressure on existing resources.

 

Working with cyclical sale periods

If your business’ orders volume varies throughout the year, it’s probably not a good idea for you to operate and staff your own warehouse. A logistics partner can adapt to your requirements. Unanticipated increases in sales, on the other hand, might jeopardise your delivery promise. An expert can manage fluctuations in quantity so that you can deliver a uniform and efficient service every time.

An experienced ecommerce partner can help you determine how much space or labour you’ll need over a set period of time, as well as what services you’d like to have. This will help you save money in the long run by ensuring that you don’t pay for what you don’t need.

For example, if you know your online store will have a large sale shortly, followed by a quieter period, you’re able to scale up and prepare for your busiest times and then reduce costs when the demand for extra workers isn’t as high.

Your time and energy

If you can’t devote time to growing your business because you’re too busy dealing with order fulfilment, it’s probably time to outsource it.

As a company owner, you must be able to devote time to sales and marketing, as well as introducing new products and concepts and otherwise enhancing your firm if you want to survive in the long term.


Finding the right fit

Your ecommerce service provider should be a good fit for you and your goals. This means similar industry experience, as well as working with similar clients, and providing the services that you and your business really need to grow.

Some providers offer packages that are tailored to specific industries or types of enterprises. There are a lot of fulfilment companies on the market – and each has its own specialty.

Look for a supply chain company that works with firms comparable to yours. This is an especially handy notion for ecommerce companies dealing with their own specific constraints. You’ll want someone who has previously worked with successful online stores.

Experience in this area means not only that the firm will be able to deliver your orders correctly and on time, but also that it will offer strategic guidance and assistance as you continue your relationship. It will be better prepared to assist you with business issues since they’ll has a better understanding of ecommerce in general.

 

Go beyond pricing & costs


One of the most common shipping problems is cost. And while it’s easy to look at the price tag and choose a fulfilment services company based on budget, you’ll want to consider more than just that. Many companies choose a provider based solely on price, only to find out that quality is absent from the equation.

Price is important, but finding a company that is a good fit is just as important. Unhappy customers could end up costing more in the long run. While you’ll want to consider multiple options and compare rates, it should only be one of many factors in your decision.

​​If all of this all sounds like a lot to handle then don’t worry, you can turn to TMS for guidance and help with your ecommerce fulfilment. We can help you handle these roadblocks and help you make the most of your fulfilment process.

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