3 reasons SMEs and start-ups use fulfilment houses, and why you should too

April 1, 2014

Small online businesses and e-commerce start-ups have their own unique set of needs in terms of order fulfilment. Order volume may be very low for a time. It will almost certainly be inconsistent, at least at first. Small concerns cannot handle high setup costs, large monthly retainers or fees, or minimum order requirements. It just isn’t practical at that scale.

Still, that doesn’t mean start-ups have to do their own order fulfilment

A good fulfilment house can handle more than just orders. They can manage the entire back end of your business, warehousing, pick and pack, distribution and delivery, even hand finishing, enclosing, and returns. They should be able to offer e-commerce start-ups the right price, as well.

1. Transparent operations and pricing is especially important to start-ups. Fine print and hidden fees can be an absolute minefield for small businesses. Some fulfilment service providers cannot integrate their software to the merchant’s, and so the seller is forced to invest in compatible software, or deal with a completely opaque provider.

With a good fulfilment partner, the process is extremely simple and predictable for the merchant

So many fulfilment houses get this wrong. If the process is overly complex, online sellers cannot easily predict their monthly costs. SMEs and start-ups would sometimes rather go it alone than risk costs going higher than they budget for, especially in the very beginning.

Proper software integration should allow even the smallest ecommerce seller to see every detail of their storage and fulfilment status with a few mouse clicks. The smaller an operation is, the more important every single order is.

2. Flexible service is vital. Smaller businesses cannot risk locking themselves into rigid, ling term deals, and they can’t risk agreeing to high minimum order volumes. One bad month could mean disaster in that kind of scenario. Outsourcing their order fulfilment function is supposed to give ecommerce sellers a competitive advantage. It should be flexible enough to help them along when they are just starting out, and then expand with them as they grow and thrive.

3. Reliable service cannot be under-valued. Businesses of all sizes use fulfilment and distribution partners, and every one stands or falls on the reliability of the service they provide. While no provider can boast 100% accuracy 100% of the time, they can, and should, strive for it anyway. High quality customer service and returns handling can smooth over any feathers that do get ruffled.

So take a long look at your fulfilment partner. Do they measure up?

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