Many small businesses start with nothing more than a hope for success. In fact, some people are so unsure of the potential of their business that they will resort to employing friends and family for a pittance to get things going. Then, the unexpected happens … business picks up, and you suddenly have more orders than your resources can handle.
Problems That Arise When Handling Your Own Fulfillment
A number of problems can arise when you decide to handle your own order fulfillment. The items may be too bulky, valuable, hazardous or specialized for you to deal with effectively. Why not go for a simple, effective and efficient solution? Many businesses are coming to this realization and outsourcing the fulfillment of their orders. By doing this, they free up time and resources to become better at marketing their products and services
Getting another person or company to satisfy your orders might turn out to be the right solution for you. Otherwise, you might soldier on while making all your previously loyal customers angry because you are not delivering what they want in a timely manner. A far better solution is to focus on your sales while outsourcing the storage, packing, and delivery of your products.
Businesses That Provide Fragile and Delicate Items
There are times when you need an expert to handle those priceless pieces of porcelain China, glass, or crystal that might be ruined by a single mistake. Of course, your trusted cousin, who has been doing the packing for you all these months may just suffer one of those lapses of concentration that might end up ruining your business altogether. The thing about delicate items is that once they are damaged in any way, they are effectively worthless. You have to have someone that is well-equipped to handle this sort of thing. That answer might be a third-party order fulfillment warehouse that does all the essential packing and shipping work for you.
You are then free to concentrate on keeping your customers happy and spending those dollars on your product. There are some small businesses that deal with items that are as delicate as elephant sculptures. Even more daunting is the fact that these items may be shipped from thousands of miles away on another continent. Other items must be placed in a particular way or else they become useless. Did you know that almost all elephant sculptures are supposed to have the trunks facing upward or else nobody will buy them? That it is considered bad luck to depict an elephant trunk facing downward? Now, think about the nightmare of packing an upward-facing elephant trunk in such a way that it will not break during its journey from Africa to the United States. That is just one example of why outsourcing fulfillment centers are such a clever idea for small businesses.
Businesses That Ship Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials must be transported, and they need experts to do it correctly. Otherwise, you might end up with a serious public relations problem and an even much more serious environmental disaster. The nature of the hazard may range from a potentially explosive item to chemicals that can cause health issues once released. The government is very strict on the harboring and transportation of those items. You will be taken through several examinations before you are allowed near them.
That can be a tall order for a small business. Setting aside all the paperwork and background checks, you will be required to pay a lot of money to be compliant with the minimum acceptable storage, packing, and transportation standards. Many small businesses barely break even without having to meet such stringent controls. The last thing they need is to incur major additional costs. Short of getting out of the business of hazardous materials, outsourced fulfillment centers can provide a professional and efficient alternative. Suddenly, you have someone else that is qualified to do so helping you by storing and transporting the hazardous materials.
Businesses That Ship Larger-than-Normal Items
If you find yourself selling bulky items, you likely are dealing with additional logistical nightmares to transport and deliver them. For instance, some people have businesses that create lifelike imitations of animals, big and small alike. The larger items can make for a bulky undertaking, even if the individual units may not be all that heavy. Packing these items safely for shipping and getting them the right place securely can be a tall order for anyone who is just starting out with a business.
Of course, you could decide to use an expensive shipping service or even work with a freight forwarding company. The downside to that is that your overall costs of production will be so high that the business may no longer be worth your time and effort. Remember that small businesses must always be conscious of their profit margins. One bad calculation, and you could be out of business. If you try to stick your customers with the bill, they will find someone cheaper. A third-party fulfillment center can make your life easier and also save you money. The shippers do everything on a large scale and reduce the overall cost of handling those large items. All is done for you with a minimum amount of trouble and effort on your end.
Businesses That Ship High-value Goods
You don’t want to be handling precious diamond or gold jewelry without the right security. High-value items can earn your company large profits, but they can also get lost or be stolen. Losing a paper shipment is nothing compared to losing a $50,000 consignment of jewelry. Small businesses that deal in high-value products need to make a detailed risk assessment before taking on the packaging and delivery of certain products.
The advantage of a third-party fulfillment center is that they ship valuable items all the time. They have the security and insurance that is required to deliver your items safely. Besides, if anything goes wrong, they are in a much better position to deal with the consequences rather than leaving you with the responsibility of an expensive product loss. The amount of money you invest in hiring a third-party fulfillment center is nothing compared to the potential loss of a high-value item.
What This Means for Shippers
Companies that are small or just starting out have to think carefully about the nature of their business and the type of product that they are selling and shipping. Consider issues of size, safety, value, and efficiency before trying to fulfill your orders. If you recognize that you are struggling or will struggle in the future, it makes sense for you to locate an exceptional third-party fulfillment center that will ensure you can meet your clients’ orders. This is an option worth exploring for any small business.