The first step is beginning your online business. Maybe you start with a simple website, something as simple and easy to use as a Yahoo storefront or ebay store. But over time your business grows, so that your mail order fulfillment needs grow. For many mail order fulfillment ecommerce entrepreneurs, company storage space usually begins in a closet, moves to the garage, then a storage facility, and eventually – if the business owner is canny and smart and the conditions are right – into a warehouse.
From there, the warehouse grows in size and dimension, with new staff needed and logistics planning and management taking an ever more aggressive priority and time commitment. A business is like a child: as it grows, it needs more and more food to sustain it. Small businesses feed on business, but also create the need for more resources to satisfy its hunger.
Third party fulfillment companies are independent logistics specialists who are able to assume control of a small business’ mail order fulfillment needs from one end of the shipment process to another, from acceptance and storage of inventory through to providing tracking data for the shipped product package. Many fulfillment service companies even offer customer service staff who can manage and resolve customer complaints and concerns on behalf of the client company.
Making The Transition
The first step in choosing a fulfillment company involves researching and familiarizing yourself with the many different fulfillment companies available to even the most nascent startup and home based ecommerce companies. These companies frequently offer flexible payment and service options, which allow their client companies lower costs and fees initially but then rise incrementally as the business grows proportionately larger. Because fulfillment service companies profit only when their client companies profit, such arrangements allow them to recruit new clients and then match the pace of the clients’ business growth.
The next and more important step includes reading and understanding all the details with the fulfillment outsourcing agreement. Familiarizing yourself will let you know what to expect and how to anticipate the changes that outsourcing your order fulfillment will have on your business.
An excellent means of discovering the right company for your fulfillment needs is to check for referrals, either from colleagues or by soliciting help on message boards and forums. This will give you the benefit of firsthand knowledge that’s objective and willing to candidly share their feedback.