Feeling the e-commerce boom? E-commerce businesses are growing at exponential rates.
And while the boom is great for business, it can be a bust for bandwidth.
As your online store grows, you may find that the order fulfillment process requires increasingly more time and resources. If any of the four challenges below sound all too familiar, it’s most likely time to outsource to an e-commerce fulfillment partner:
- Bandwidth is maxed out.
- Issues with inventory management.
- You’re running out of space.
- Shipping speed and costs aren’t competitive.
1. Bandwidth is Maxed Out
The first and most obvious sign that it’s time to outsource e-commerce fulfillment occurs when order volumes have increased to the point where bandwidth is maxed out at 100%.
There are many hats to wear when running an e-commerce store, and order fulfillment is just one of many business-critical responsibilities. It requires a level of attention and resources that's on par with other critical functions like sales, marketing and accounting.
It’s crucial for you and your employees to perform tasks that bring the most value to the business. If you're pulling in employees from other departments to help with tasks, such as inventory management, kitting or packaging, their expertise may not be used effectively. The same applies to those assigned to assembly, QA, shipping and returns.
Outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment allows you to redirect bandwidth to more profitable areas of the business rather than fulfilling orders.
2. Issues with Inventory Management
When it comes to inventory management, there’s no room for error.
Online retailers need to have a pulse on every SKU. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of managing SKUs, storage locations and stock quantities, it’s a good sign that you are ready to outsource fulfillment. An e-commerce fulfillment partner can leverage their technological capabilities and extensive experience to ensure that ready-to-ship items are always in stock and ready for same-day fulfillment.
3. You’re Running out of Space
Storing inventory in the hallway or in an empty office? If you've outgrown your current space, you’re likely considering whether or not to increase the size of your current warehouse space.
As you’re well aware, this is a significant investment that requires additional expenses (and frustrations) in the form of:
- Hiring and training more staff.
- Buying more equipment.
- Paying for unused space and labor as order volumes fluctuate.
For example, sales may soar in the first half of the year, but decrease substantially in the summer months. These fluctuations in demand require more storage space and labor during the peak season, then leave you dealing with the headache of unused space and labor during the slower months.
By outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment, the only thing you’ll need to do is send more inventory when stock levels get low.
4. Shipping Speed and Costs Aren’t Competitive
In the e-commerce world, shipping is a key differentiator.
Shipping costs and delivery times are of paramount importance to your customers. Unfortunately, the competition is tough, and online shoppers will buy from online stores that offer the lowest price and fastest shipping.
It’s important to note that there isn’t one best shipping solution for e-commerce businesses. The optimal shipping solution for one e-commerce business may be completely different for another.
When determining what shipping solution works best for your e-commerce business, factor in criteria such as:
- Size and weight.
- Shipping distance.
- Shipping method.
- Profit margins.
This is one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment. A fulfillment partner will find the most efficient, cost-effective and fastest shipping solution for your unique business needs. By leveraging their experience with carriers, bulk shipping rates and strategic fulfillment center locations, online retailers can benefit from:
- Expedited delivery times.
- Reduced shipping costs.
- The ability to ship to new or international locations.
Ready to Outsource E-Commerce Fulfillment?
Outsourcing your e-commerce fulfillment to a partner is a big decision, but it can provide the leverage you need to free up your time, streamline operations and set your business up for continued success.
If you’re still not sure if outsourcing fulfillment is right for you, here are some additional FAQs to help you make the best decision for your business.
What services do e-commerce fulfillment providers offer?
Fulfillment providers typically offer services, such as inventory management, order processing, packing, shipping and returns handling. Full-service fulfillment providers, such as Jet Mail, also offer value-added services, like kitting and assembly, print marketing inserts and quality assurance.
How can an e-commerce business choose the right fulfillment partner?
Choosing the right partner involves considering factors like the provider's expertise, technological capabilities, network reach, cost-effectiveness and the quality of their customer service.
What are the potential downsides of outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment?
Potential downsides can include loss of control over some processes and potential issues with service quality or reliability if the provider doesn't meet expectations. It's essential to carefully vet potential partners to mitigate these risks.
Can outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment help a business scale?
Absolutely. By freeing up resources and time, outsourcing can enable a business to focus more on growth-oriented activities. Additionally, a good fulfillment provider will proactively provide recommendations on how to continuously optimize the fulfillment process.
Have more questions about fulfillment? Jet Mail is here to help!
Since 1993, businesses across all industries have relied on Jet Mail for print, direct mail, marketing and e-commerce fulfillment solutions.
Our extensive menu of print and direct mail services is amplified by our equally comprehensive list of lightning-fast fulfillment services including inventory management, pick-and-pack, kitting and assembly, QA, inventory management, shipping and returns.
Contact us today so we can learn more about your businesses and create a custom solution to support your continued growth.