You channeled your inner entrepreneur and started your own company, scribbling initial ideas a piece of scratch paper, planning every detail, and now you’ve plunged headlong into one of the biggest chapters of your life. You’ve worked hard to build your business and it is incredibly rewarding to see it grow.
But you’re at a point now when growing pains have taken hold, particularly in the area of fulfillment operations. You face a significant challenge of outgrowing your fulfillment provider and you must plan now to ensure continued business growth.
Let’s look at some common signs you should start preparing for new and improved fulfillment processes.
Your current location can’t keep up
You did well with a single warehouse but a rapidly increasing customer base has that location bursting at the seams. It also costs far too much in shipping to maintain a high level of customer service, which you need to continue growing. A new fulfillment location might be the answer, or even several strategic locations in your service area.
Your current provider can’t keep up
It’s great that your business is growing so well but is your fulfillment provider up for it? A stalwart fulfillment provider becomes a reliable business partner, there when you need it to keep up growth and future needs. The solid regional provider you started with was excellent at the time but if you begin seeing shipment delays and other snafus, it’s time to look further afield.
New products need more attention
If you chose to add an entirely new product line, that could mean a related shift in fulfillment needs. Let’s say you are now selling a popular new item that must be stored in a climate-controlled space; can your current provider meet that need? Be sure your provider is agile enough to handle potential shifts in product.
Investing in fulfillment infrastructure
It’s no secret that fulfillment operations are very labor-intensive and automated processes have become increasingly critical for companies today. That means you have to invest internal funds to maintain a growth trajectory or partner with a provider with these systems in place or with the capacity to do so. A fulfillment provider with infrastructure and the experience to meet your needs can be a key driver in your core business.
Parcel costs are skyrocketing
You can manage parcel tasks in-house or perhaps through a local warehouse but without sufficient volume it is near impossible to land favorable rates with the likes of FedEx, UPS, or postal service. An established fulfillment partner can offer substantially lower rates.
Not enough hours in the day
During your company’s nascent years it was no problem keeping up with order processing. Volume was low and manageable but now it’s full speed ahead and you simply don’t have time to fill all the orders. A reliable fulfillment partner takes that burden away and allows you to focus running your business. As a general rule, if you spend more than 20 hours a week shipping chores, consider a new fulfillment provider.