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Why I (Finally) Hired A Fulfillment Company

A verbatim (almost) account of the dramatic events leading up to Oliver – that’s his name – finally deciding to take control of his growing business by hiring a fulfillment center. As told to James Beyda:

Looking back, I should have seen it coming but as most humans getting that adrenaline rush when your company starts taking off, I had bigger things to worry about. It started with a simple idea, a cool poster design that I hoped would make a quick buck. I was living with my girlfriend at the time (bye Felicia!) and my best friend and cat Max.

After sharing the concept with friends who said they would “totally” buy it, I asked the printing company for 1000 posters and put it up online for sale.

Two weeks and 7000 (!) orders later my apartment looked like a WWI battle trench, granted posters are less deadly than bayonets but with Max peeing on piles of posters (hint: not covered by insurance) and Felicia’s support slowly eroding I realized something had to change.

I called Kevin, a friend of mine who had done a Kickstarter project ‘I just want to sell my art Kevin, I’m running to the post office (to get them out on time), Staples (more tubes/containers) and the printing shop…I’m starting to lose it!’

Kevin put me in touch with Fulfillrite (a company specializing in promotional/small items) they walked me through everything from warehousing my posters to labeling and shipping them to my customers. What a relief, all those details I had never thought of as a budding entrepreneur, Fulfillrite came in like The Cat In The Hat with Thing One and Thing Two and Voom! I was back to doing what I do best: getting my art out to my fans!

Oliver is unique (of course you are, Oliver!), but his story isn’t. We see this all the time. Entrepreneurs, artists, creators, with superb ideas and marketable products who just want to get their stuff into the hands of their eager customers. They think about ideas in a sort of linear train: Need > Solution > Product. Then, production, marketing, and sales all seem to vie for next in the priority list. Dead last is fulfillment, and usually a bit too late. They are scrambling to keep up with orders, their customers are getting agitated, and what seemed like a simple process is now a jumble of comparing rates, running out of packing tape, and a living room full of disorganized inventory.

The lesson? Third party fulfillment might not be not for everyone, but your friend Kevin is a genius. Listen to him, and think about your fulfillment needs the way a politician thinks about voting: early and often. Reach out to or another reputable product fulfillment service before you even start selling your product. They will guide you and keep you sane, allowing you to focus on your sales and customers, no matter what Felicia does to your head and Max does to your sofa.

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