When you’re starting a retail business or brand, it’s natural to try and do everything – including order handling – yourself.
It can be difficult to contemplate offloading anything when money – and margins – are tight.
Picking, packing and sending out ecommerce orders is one of those tasks that founders often look after themselves initially.
Fulfilling your own orders
Many people value the control that managing their own ecommerce fulfilment provides. It means you always have a clear view on what stock you have and can, if required, look at specific items of stock before sending them out. You can also add personal touches to orders, such as a handwritten thank-you notes.
Founders often go on to rent studios, small office units or warehouses. We also work with clients that are switching out of self-storage units or have contemplated opening a shop.
However, while looking after your own ecommerce fulfilment can have its advantages, there are downsides too. Order handling can be time-consuming and can prove a distraction from bringing in new sales or identifying or designing new products.
It’s also important that you can scale your packing operation – in terms of both space and people – to handle busy periods.
Packing, packing, packing
This was a theme discussed in a recent edition of the excellent Conversations of Inspiration podcast series, hosted by Holly Tucker, the Not on the High Street co-founder.
Jo Tutchener-Sharp, founder of Scamp & Dude, the award-winning clothing brand, was her guest. “All I was doing all day long until 2 in the morning was packing orders,” she said, reflecting on a specific point in the growth of her business.
When Liberty, the department store, got in touch to ask about her next collection, she realised she hadn’t designed another collection because so much of her time was spent packing orders. (The full podcast is well worth a listen, here).
It’s a common experience and one we often hear described by retailers and brands we speak to.
Sometimes people talk of having run out of space to store stock and handle orders; they have no time to do the marketing they would really like to do; the volume and frequency of orders just means they can’t take holidays or time off.
But when is the right time to think about whether an ecommerce fulfilment service could work for you?
Some businesses prefer to wait until their business is established before contemplating using an ecommerce fulfilment house. This ensures people in the early stages of their business can minimise costs.
However, we’re increasingly seeing people starting businesses who are using ecommerce fulfilment from day one. This works particularly well if you’re running a business while still working. You might not have premises to store your stock or the time to handle orders every day. It ensures your orders go out quickly and your deliveries are tracked. You can then focus on generating sales and getting your product mix right.
We often find a perception that ecommerce fulfilment isn’t an option for smaller businesses. But that is no longer the case. Ultimately, the best time to think about fulfilment depends upon the nature of your business and your plans for the future. The best option is to investigate your options and regularly review what is right for your business.
If you want to investigate whether an ecommerce fulfilment service might help you grow your business, talk to our ecommerce fulfilment team on 0333 0112 909. Or get in touch by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.