You’ve been thinking about starting up an eCommerce website, something small that you can call your own, but there are a lot of things you never considered you’d need to consider that are making it hard to get started.
Take, for example, your eCommerce fulfillment strategy: do you even have one? Before you launch your site, it’s going to be important to have an eCommerce order management system in place, otherwise delays caused by a lack of organization may turn new customers off entirely.
Is Your Product Distribution Plan Fulfilling?
The type of fulfillment services you ultimately choose is going to be based on several factors. The most influential are the type of products you’re selling and the number of shipments you send out daily.
There are many different forms of order fulfillment, but they tend to fall into one of these three categories:
- Self-Fulfillment. When your orders are few or you deal in products that are very delicate or aren’t mass manufactured, it may make sense to keep your fulfillment to yourself. It’s not a huge thing to mail off five or 10 items each week.
On the flipside of this, many large companies like Walmart do their own fulfillment, too. They have a team of experts and all the equipment it takes to get the job done, but it took a significant investment of capital to establish.
- Drop Shipping. For the uninitiated, drop shipping is an arrangement with a manufacturer or other wholesale company that will ship products that customers order from your site directly to them, cutting out the need for any warehousing or additional handling.
If you’re just getting started, this is a potentially good option for you, since you won’t have to handle stock or fulfillment right away. The big downside here is that you may have access to limited inventory options, since you can only sell what’s in their catalog.
- Hiring a 3PL. A third party logistics company may well be the best of both worlds. Even though you’ve hired a separate company to handle your fulfillment, you’re in charge of how it’s done, just like if you had a fulfillment department.
You also have the advantage of not having to store goods, since your 3PL will keep your warehouse neat and tidy. With up to the minute inventory reports, you can even see what’s selling out and what items need to be replaced with something different that might sell better.
Your eCommerce fulfillment strategy can literally make the difference between the sweet smell of success and the end of your eCommerce business. In a world where customers can get a Lego set delivered to them in two hours, you have to be fast to be competitive and a lot of that speed can be picked up with a solid fulfillment strategy.