Stress is a daily part of a small business owner’s life. E-commerce entrepreneurs face a retail landscape that’s difficult enough without the added strain of shipping out every customer’s order. That’s why many small businesses outsource their product storage and shipments to order fulfillment centers or third-party logistics companies. They help business owners relieve major amounts of stress in several ways:
They take care of the entire shipment cycle
Many small business owners find themselves spending more than half their time on every-day business operations, including product delivery. The sheer pace and volume of effort this process requires can be exhausting for both owners and their staffs.
An order fulfillment center oversees every step of the inventory and customer shipping processes: warehousing, product assembly, picking products, printing labels, and sending packages to their final destinations. Removing this burden from a small business’s immediate responsibilities keeps owners and their employees from burning out from overseeing logistics.
They manage returns
“Reverse logistics” — an industry term for returns processing — is equally as important to a small business’s success as its sales. If customers can’t return their purchases easily, their irritation can impact a company’s reputation. That’s a risk that a growing small business can’t afford, and it often happens when that business tries to manage returns all on its own.
Fulfillment centers handle returns processing just as effectively as outbound shipments. They manage inventory and keep merchandise waste down and are also the main points of contact for customer service.
They help small businesses manage scalability
When a small business has a “hit” product on its hands, incoming orders can mushroom to a volume for which they’re not prepared. A sudden increase in orders can overwhelm or break down their onsite resources. That prevents them from timely customer fulfillment and business growth, which is the objective of every company.
A fulfillment center is built to help small companies when their business takes a dramatic upturn. They always have enough storage space for mass amounts of product and can deal with increases in customer demand and shipments. That helps small businesses grow and flourish without straining their systems.
When a small business fulfills its own incoming customer orders, the owner must pay for all the individual moving parts: storage facility fees, management systems, packaging supplies, postage fees, workers’ comp, liability insurance, and other expenses. Although this arrangement might make sense while the company is still small, these separate expenses can get out of hand quickly if business volume increases.
Fulfillment centers help businesses control expenses by keeping multiple services under the same roof: receiving, warehousing, kitting, packaging, shipping, and tracking. By consolidating these services, optimizing shipments, and maximizing fulfillment time, a fulfillment center can ease the anxiety of a small business’s budget manager (often the owner).
They let owners concentrate on business
Small business owners start companies because they had ideas for certain products and services. They need to devote most of their time to expand upon those ideas and create new ones — as well as devise marketing, research, and development strategies. When they have to pause these activities to manage customer fulfillment, a business owner loses the time they need for these essential functions.
Outsourcing customer fulfillment gives small business owners valuable time back, so they can focus on building and positioning their companies for future success.