Periodically, Order Desk will share content from its partners. This post is brought to you by Fulfillrite, a US-based order fulfillment company.
We get it: filling orders is hard work that is time-consuming and expensive. This is especially true when sales first start coming in; you’ve spent long hours working, testing, promoting, and crafting your products until they meet your standards, and now that your business is starting to grow… how many cups of coffee can you drink to get through those long workdays?
Luckily, apps like Order Desk exist to help you save that time by alleviating some of the everyday stressors that come with running an online business. Business owners like yourself have chosen to automate their order management to simplify that process, and along with that, they often choose to outsource fulfillment to companies like Fulfillrite.
As someone familiar with Order Desk, you probably already know the time-saving benefits of streamlining business processes. Order Desk simplifies your workflow by making different systems communicate with each other. Similarly, fulfillment companies provide the benefit of simplifying the inventory storage and shipment process for you orders.
So how does using a fulfillment company save you time? Here are 6 ways outsourcing fulfillment will help you streamline your business.
1. Outsourcing fulfillment eases your order process
Consider all the steps that go into fulfilling an order: you have to review the items that were ordered, their quantities, where to send the order, then pack it all up and apply postage. Not a problem for a few orders, but you can start to see where your time will be spent when your volume grows.
A fulfillment company removes the extra work by utilizing their own specialized processes. Fulfillment warehouses categorize each item by own unique code, called a SKU, so they can be stored efficiently. Each shipment is packed and the correct postage applied. And, as an added benefit, postal carriers pick up packages directly from the fulfillment company’s warehouse multiple times a day. No more time-wasting trips to the post office for you!
2. Outsourcing fulfillment improves inventory management
While fulfilling orders, the fulfillment company will update their records. When items are checked in or out, you can monitor them. You can easily read your inventory data and monitor the tracking information of individual packages. All of this is directly tied to the order process rather than one you’d have to maintain yourself.
This is possible because the data needed to easily track inventory is already in the fulfillment company’s system. Where a small business owner might need to purchase software or set up a solution with spreadsheets and barcode scanners, a fulfillment company is set up for this already.
Even if you need to audit your inventory, fulfillment companies can help you with that. They have processes in place to quickly reconcile inventory data as needed. Between proactive tracking and retroactive auditing, outsourcing fulfillment will save an enormous amount of time on managing inventory. This can have a number of great benefits for your business.
3. Outsourcing fulfillment can streamline your returns process
It can feel like admitting defeat to have to create an elegant process for handling returns. The simple fact is that an easy return process is important to customer satisfaction. In fact, in the eCommerce world, a generous return policy can even increase your conversion rate. Seriously, being good at returns can make you money.
This is where outsourcing fulfillment can come in handy again. Warehouses get returns all the time. Fulfillment companies have streamlined the process. You tell them what to do with returns and they’ll do it. It’s as simple as that. Not only does this save you time, but it saves you time that would have been spent on unpredictable, unproductive interruptions.
4. Outsourcing fulfillment will streamline your receiving process
Nothing can disrupt your workday like receiving a large shipment. When orders start pouring in, you may be receiving a truckload of inventory every month, week, or even day. Unloading trucks is physically intensive, time-consuming labor. It’s also labor not spent directly growing your business.
Fulfillment companies receive lots of large shipments, often multiple per day. They have lots of staff available to unload trucks. Once inventory is unloaded, they have an elegant system to store goods and keep track of where they are. Meanwhile, their computer systems will update inventory records without you having to do anything else.
5. Outsourcing fulfillment allows you to integrate with other software
When you are outsourcing fulfillment, the company you work with will likely integrate with systems you already use. If you’re a reader of Order Desk’s blog, you likely have a sense of how this already works.
Long story short, once your fulfillment system and shopping site are integrated, orders that come in are immediately routed to the fulfillment company. That means orders are filled while you’re sleeping, playing, or working on something else. You don’t have to manually intervene at all. The process becomes, for your intents and purposes, automatic.
This grants small business owners an enormous amount of freedom. Instead of spending time preparing orders, you can spend time growing your business. This can even become a competitive advantage!
6. Outsourcing fulfillment removes constraints from your business
All totaled, outsourcing fulfillment is valuable because of what it subtracts from your business rather than what it adds to it. Outsourcing fulfillment generally eases the burden of common constraints that hold small business owners back.
First and foremost, outsourcing fulfillment is a massive time-saver. Time is truly the one non-renewable, non-substitutable resource in this world. It’s much more satisfying to spend your precious time doing something that will move your business forward.
Similarly, outsourcing fulfillment can save money. It sounds like it should cost more, but agreements with postal carriers often lead to competitive postage rates. Plus there is less waste in the packing process as well as less time spent on labor. This adds up over time.
If you’re not storing your own goods, you save a ton on physical space (or even real estate costs). The complexity of your day-to-day business operations generally goes down, and this makes it easier to make decisions. It’s an established fact that trying to do too much or make too many decisions can hamper your ability to make good ones.
Lastly, if you have employees working on fulfillment for you, you can reallocate their labor hours toward more value-added activities. This is a plus for you because it means more critical business objectives are being taken care of. It’s a plus for them, too, since different responsibilities can be a boon for their career.
When you run a small business, any steps you can take to make your job easier will provide tremendous value. Outsourcing the last steps in the order process fulfillment can be one of those steps.
If you want to streamline complex processes, save time and take full advantage of powerful software, you might want to consider letting a fulfillment service take over this work for you. When your business starts to scale and you feel like you can’t keep up, this is an efficient option to give your time back to you.
Need help filling orders? Request a quote from Fulfillrite today.