Scaling your business takes time and preparation so that it can be done effectively and easily. You don’t want your focus to be on scaling your business 24/7. There are other aspects of your business that need your attention if you’re looking for fast, consistent growth. This is especially important when it comes to an ecommerce business, which is the hardest to scale. Why? One word: logistics.
You want your business in a place where it can grow unhampered without demanding all your attention, giving you the flexibility to focus on other details that will keep your business alive and thriving. If there is one area that you should outsource to give you more time and revenue elsewhere, it’s going to be fulfillment.
Get Help With Fulfillment
If you’re currently handling your own fulfillment, stop and get help from a company that knows how to do fulfillment and how to do it right. A company that can focus on ecommerce fulfillment, doing it better and faster, so you can focus on other important business-building aspects, like your marketing and customer service policy.
There are many aspects of your ecommerce business that a 3PL can take off your hands, do a better job of and free up manpower and money that you can utilize in other areas of your business.
Do you really need a 3pl?
The answer is, most likely, yes. If you’re scaling an ecommerce business then you need help with fulfillment. Why? Well, simply look at the time and energy you, your team, your team's friends, your friends, your friends other friends, neighbors, cousins and your cousins' friends waste on fulfilling orders in house. You’ve seen this happen, those marketing campaigns worked like gang-busters and then, on monday, you wonder how in the world you’re going to get everything out on time to complete the customer experience. These are just some of the steps you’re spending your time and money on:
Pick an appropriate sized box, bag or padded envelope
Purchase that packing material
Work that price into the product’s cost
Find, select and pack the item from storage shelves
Wrap the item, put it in the box, add all the extras, flyers, receipt, catalogs, etc.
Create, print and attach a shipping label (did you select the right carrier?)
Factor cross-border tariffs into the product’s price
Head down to the shipping office, stand in line, tell the clerk what you want and then head back to the office
Repeat these steps hundreds, hopefully, thousands of times for all the items you’re going to sell on your ecommerce site
Oh, don't forget to factor these as well:
Purchase racking and pick bins to store product
Purchase Warehouse Management Software
Fork Lifts? Yeah, you’ll need some (all types)
Additional payroll and insurance for warehouse employees
And that’s just boilerplate. A 3PL is going to have established relationships that will save you money in shipping, warehouse management, and much more. There are ins and outs and intricacies of the fulfillment operation that are currently sapping your time and resources. Outsourcing your fulfillment to a 3PL is going to take more off your plate than you realize.
One of the main drains on a company’s revenue is warehouse space. Most small to medium-sized ecommerce businesses cannot support a warehouse and having one is money not wisely spent. Better to partner with a 3PL that has warehouse space and all the tools in place that are needed to operate it.
Your 3PL’s warehousing capabilities will free you of the cost burden of not just the warehouse space but the personnel to operate it as well. This is especially important during seasonal variations in demand. Managing the change in seasonal demand for inventory as well as hiring seasonal workers can be a drain on finances and time. A 3PL takes that off your plate.
Along with space, a 3PL is going to help manage and track all your inventory within that warehouse. How much time and money are you spending on keeping track of your inventory? How accurate are you being with orders and shipping? How much manpower are you spending on inventory that could be better used elsewhere? Good questions to ask when you’re thinking of scaling your business and questions that can be answered by a 3PL.
A 3PL partner is not only going to house your inventory for you they will handle inventory management, product order lists, shipping, packaging etc..
Having your inventory managed, organized, stored, and distributed all over the world will leave you with the time and resources to focus on more important things that will require your attention as you go about growing your business faster.
A recent Dropoff study showed that 97% of customers saw expedited delivery as somewhat important when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. However, 40% said it was very important to their purchase decision.
With distribution centers strategically located, it’s possible to reach more than 98% of the United States within two days via ground service. A good 3PL brings an established shipping network and buying power they have developed over time with carriers to the table. A broad, established network of shipping partners around the country will give your ecommerce business the flexibility to choose the prime level of service for each shipment at the right price.
You will be fortifying your customer relationships with a 3PL because your customers will be able to choose the delivery options that best suit their needs. A smart ecommerce business can take advantage of the 3PL’s pre-negotiated and competitive logistics packages. This will not only strengthen current customer relationships, but it will also attract more customers and build the chances for more relationships with your business.
Collaboration with a 3PL can reduce the overall transportation spend for an ecommerce business with competitive freight rates, supply chain management, and the experience they have in the market. All of this equates to time and energy you can then focus elsewhere in your business so you can grow faster.
Scaling will naturally cause an increase in volume and a need for handling that volume without negatively impacting order accuracy. How much of your time, money, focus, and manpower can you commit to this without seeing a negative impact on other areas of your business? It seems repetitive however, it’s a simple fact, a 3PL is going to give you back time and manpower which you can then focus on other places and save you money in the end.
An experienced 3PL is going to be able to handle the fluctuations in volume while staying on top of accuracy. With fulfillment automation solutions and the resources to increase or decrease the workforce, the accuracy of your orders should not be in doubt.
Once again, by allowing you to focus on other aspects of your ecommerce business, a properly run 3PL is going to help you scale more quickly, accurately, and continually than if you attempted to tackle the changes on your own.
It is a popular opinion that if you’re looking to successfully scale your ecommerce business you really need to do two things: Have great marketing and great customer service.
But, here’s the reality, if you don’t handle your fulfillment situation, partner with an exceptional 3PL, you’re not going to have the time, money, and energy to focus on those other two aspects of the business. Outsource and secure your fulfillment or you’ll never be able to successfully scale your ecommerce business.
Seriously, fulfillment first
You can have a great brand marketing campaign that brings everyone running to your site and buying your goods, however, that’s going to be a one-time thing if your fulfillment fails miserably. Poor fulfillment and your brand becomes associated with bad reviews on shipping.
Likewise, you can have a great customer service operation, however, without proper fulfillment, your customer service agents are going to spend long days fielding calls about where the hell are my items or why did I get things I didn’t order or worse, why didn’t get what I ordered and paid for.
Steady, sustainable growth
The bottom line here is that ecommerce sales growth can be unpredictable and explosive. For your ecommerce business to thrive and exceed, you’ve got to be prepared for and react quickly to order volume increases, changing customer demands, seasonal promotions as well as changes in business and shipping. There is a lot to keep track of and unfortunately, it can quickly costume a large chunk of your capital.
To jump-start and sustain your business’s growth, you need a partner that is prepared and experienced. A good 3PL is going to offer your ecommerce business much-needed flexibility in space, staffing, shipping choices, inventory management, and more. It will provide the ability for you to meet and conquer the inevitable peaks and valleys of the quickly changing business world.
A 3PL is a must
Before you scale, make sure you’re ready to scale. And the best way to be ready for that kind of change is to get some outside help to handle all your fulfillment. Once you have that in place you can focus on marketing, customer service, and all other aspects of your ecommerce business that you may have been neglecting because you’ve spent too much time dealing with fulfillment.
Scaling your ecommerce business is going to rely on continued good relationships with current customers and building new relationships with new customers. The key to that is fulfillment. Get your fulfillment situation handled professionally, by an experienced 3PL and the rest is going to fall in line and you’ll be able to grow your business a lot faster and easier.