After the Cart: The Rise of Order Fulfillment

Before I joined the team at Fulfillrite, I, like most ordinary people out there, was blithely unaware of the world of order fulfillment. Shopping online was simple – put items in my cart, enter payment info and click “submit order” – that’s all there was to it.

So what happens after you click “submit order?” Online shopping has been predicted to reach a new record high this year, with sales for the 2015 holiday season alone exceeding $69 billion – that is an awful lot of packages that need to be packed, sent and delivered.

That is where fulfillment centers come in. A fast-growing industry, they really are the unsung heroes of the eCommerce world – without them, such growth wouldn’t have been possible.

Many online stores handle their own order fulfillment and shipping. If their volume is low enough, if they have enough time on their hands and space to store inventory, there is no reason it should be problematic (especially with the variety of shipping software available). But what if, what IF, their sales increase and their business grows? That’s when outsourcing comes in.

Why outsource fulfillment?

There are many reasons why a business may choose to go with a fulfillment company, but most come down to the simple fact that it’s time to focus on taking things to the next level. Important facets of operations may not be receiving the attention they need and the current scale has grown to the point where in can no longer support growth. It’s a big step – with outsourcing fulfillment, you are really bringing on a partner in your business, one that, if the fit is right, can help you scale new growth.

Benefits of using an order fulfillment service:

TIME to do other things to grow your business, less stress. Running a business isn’t easy and there are a lot of moving parts. Is your valuable time worth using fulfilling orders, or is it better spent on aspects that need your attention and will impact your business such as marketing, sales and product development?

MONEY and resources saved. Just do a quick calculation of the labor costs involved to hire, train and do payroll for warehouse employees vs. the fees for all-in-one outsourced fulfillment. While we wish all businesses the large-scale success this would afford, for most small to medium businesses, it simply doesn’t add up.

BETTER SHIPPING RATES Fulfillment companies have developed and established relationships with the major shipping carriers; thusly they’re usually able to offer better shipping rates. If you sign with the right one, caring about getting you the best rates for the best service is their #1 priority.

SPACE There will come a point in time where packing orders out of your garage just isn’t going to cut it any longer and you need to expand. Warehouse space costs money, as does all the additional equipment needed to expand a self-fulfillment operation. Supplies include packing materials (from boxes to tape to bubble wrap), packing tables, shipping label printers (and heaven forbid, one goes down!), software licensing, not to mention the administrative duties just to keep everything in stock.

DEALING WITH RETURNS Your hands are full with sending orders out, what about the ones that come back IN and need to be entered back into inventory and restocked? Fulfillment centers take care of all your returns for you. Returns that go through our system are inspected, quickly processed, re-inventoried and automatically updated in your web portal.

AN END TO THE MISCELLANEOUS HEADACHES Taxes. Customs. Shipping insurance. Post office runs every day… Our automated processing ensures that getting your products to your customers fast and accurately is out of sight, out of mind.

In the end, the choice to bring in help for eCommerce fulfillment has to make financial and logistical sense – evaluate where your business is at, if can it afford it and if it’s ready to go to the next level.

You’ve done everything by the book. Your Kickstarter campaign is almost ready to launch.

You made a great product. Built an audience. Set up a campaign page.

But how do you ship it?

We put this checklist together to help you get started. It's free.