Outsourced fulfilment: It’s one of those terms you’ve probably heard here and there, as more people are choosing this service to streamline their business. But what exactly is outsourced fulfilment? And, is it right for you, now or in the future?
Here we answer a few of the most asked questions surrounding outsourced fulfilment.
What is outsourced order fulfilment?
The receiving, selecting and shipping of online orders is a process known as order fulfilment. When your order fulfilment is outsourced, the process works in a number of simple steps.
1. Your goods are sent to a warehouse fulfilment facility where they are stored securely.
2. Your ecommerce platform is integrated with the fulfilment provider’s software, so orders are automatically sent to the service provider for fulfilment.
3. Staff choose the items for individual orders, package them and ready them for dispatch.
4. The order is shipped to the customer using a courier service such as DPD or Royal Mail, offering a number of delivery options.
5. If a customer wishes to return an order, this is dealt with by the fulfilment service provider, as per your instructions.
Is Outsourced Fulfilment the right move for you?
Fulfilment systems are intended to streamline operations on a large scale, stocking goods from many retailers in one facility and developing systems to select, package and dispatch all orders quickly and precisely.
There may be, therefore, a number of occasions where outsourced fulfilment is not the right move for you. This includes:
– If you stock unusually-shaped, big items. Smaller items are ideal for fulfilment provider systems due to standard shipping restrictions.
– If you stock unique, one-off items, like antiques. It’ll work out more cost-effective to send items yourself, as fulfilment facilities are best for storing many items in bulk.
– If you want bespoke packaging, such as specific wrapping or accessories. As fulfilment service providers prioritise speedy and bulk dispatching, individualised wrapping is not economical.
Are you ready to begin outsourcing your fulfilment?
It may not be financially viable to begin outsourcing your fulfilment, especially if you’re just starting your ecommerce business. However, if you find yourself answering positively to these questions, it could be worth considering:
– Are you receiving a good amount of orders consistently every day?
– Is space for storage becoming an issue? It’s often more cost-effective to use a fulfilment facility for storage than to relocate.
– Are you swamped by customer support tickets? A fulfilment provider can quickly rectify these issues, saving you from delayed responses which can be detrimental to your brand.
– Is it difficult to keep control of your stock? Managing your inventory can be made much easier with technology provided by most fulfilment companies.
– Are you spending too much time packaging goods and at the Post Office, waiting in the queue? You can recover your valuable time by outsourcing fulfilment, so you can focus on other things.
– Have you considered employing another person? Outsourcing fulfilment is likely to be more cost-effective than a new hire.
– Do you have seasonal sales patterns? Investing in storage space that’ll be used for only a few weeks in the year can be ineffective compared to outsourcing.
How can you benefit from outsourced fulfilment?
By outsourcing your fulfilment, you’ll benefit in a number of ways:
1. You’ll reclaim a lot of time – no more packing boxes or standing in queues. Instead, you can focus on growing your business.
2. You’ll be reducing your costs. Outsourcing fulfilment means you don’t have to invest in other premises or systems, which can be costly.
3. You’ll easily manage your inventory. Fulfilment providers offer helpful tools to manage your inventory and help you gain insight into effective ordering.
4. You’ll improve your shipping. A plethora of speedy, worldwide shipping options will become available to you when you outsource your fulfilment.
5. You’ll satisfy your customers. By outsourcing your fulfilment, you’ll ensure customer satisfaction through accurate and timely deliveries, an accessible returns process and frequent updates on their order status.
If viable, outsourcing your fulfilment can keep your customers happy, while allowing you to focus on building your business.