You have just started a new eCommerce business and now you are looking for a way to help it grow and develop. You obviously need funds and you want to save them with each task possible. One of the ways you can use it is self-fulfillment of the orders. So what it is, how, and why can you use it to your advantage? All of those questions will be answered below.
Self-fulfillment: What is it and who should use it?
Self-fulfillment of the orders is when you want to keep the packaging, shipping, and also inventory stored in the house or better said in your warehouse or a garage. It is ideal when you want to save some money and use it to make your business grow. At the same time, this process is ideal when you have a massive business and you can acquire a warehouse that comes with order fulfillment operations.
As you were able to see, self-fulfillment of the orders is designed for either very small businesses or large businesses. If you have a small business, you will do it in the house, alone. If you have a massive business, you will need a special team and a warehouse where you will manage this process.
Self-fulfillment of the orders isn’t recommended if you have a medium business. It takes time, a lot of it so you should invest in a team of employees who will do this for you.
Keep in mind that there are a few alternatives. The first one is 3PL, also known as third-party logistics. This is when a separate company will manage your order fulfillment. Another alternative is known as FBA. The best example is Amazon where they will store your products in their warehouses and they will manage all the orders and the inventory.
Steps for successful order self-fulfillment
In this case scenario, we will imagine that you have chosen self-fulfillment as a process you can do and you want to do.
Processing a new order
The first thing you will have to do is to find a way that will help you be notified about a new order. It can be an email, a text message, or anything else. The goal here is to be notified as soon as possible, so you can obviously ship the item within hours. Also, you will need order management. It is essential for order self-fulfillment and it is something that can make a massive difference.
Choosing a suitable packaging option
The next step is to pack the item or goods you are shipping. Here, there are several important factors to consider. First of all, you need a suitable size for the box. If it is too small, your item won’t fit. If it is too big, you will pay shipping more and your item may be damaged. You also need bubble wrap, shipping peanuts, and wrapping paper (optional). You can also opt for an eco-friendly package or special boxes. Just make sure you have plenty of them 24/7.
Pack the item
Now you will have to pack the item. Obviously, you will need to have the items within your reach, you will need to pack it in such a way that a customer gets what he ordered and he is satisfied with his unboxing experience. Although very important, don’t forget that this will make the self-fulfillment process longer.
Print the label and ship the item
Those of you who still have a small business, it is important to print your labels by yourself and take them to the post office and ship them as soon as possible. Once your business is big enough, you will be able to schedule a pickup from the carriers (it will cost you more) and they will do all the hard work instead.
Provide the tracking information
The last step is to provide tracking information on the package. This is something your customers will want and need, so you must make sure it is accurate. Tracking is used to see how long the shipping will last, where the package is at that very moment, and additional information. Don’t forget that online returns are needed sometimes.
Common issues with self-fulfillment of the orders
Self-fulfillment is an excellent way to save up some money and invest it wisely. But, it is also something that brings a few issues or complications. The most common and also the solutions are explained below.
Complex order tracking system
Tracking systems are not perfect. A package you have sent may get lost eventually. It is mandatory for you to provide accurate tracking details and to be able to provide additional answers to your customers when they need it. To avoid issues, use well-known carriers.
The shipping cost is determined by the location of the package and its recipient. In some cases, this may be very expensive. The solution is to increase the price (slightly) of your items to cover partially at least, shipping cost or to allow for the customers to pay for the shipping by themselves. Once your business is big enough, you can offer free shipping.
Not enough time
Self-fulfillment of the orders is a time-consuming process. There is no single answer you can use to make it easier. The only thing you can do is to optimize your time better. Avoid fake customers and any wasting of the time. It is always a nice thing when you can hire an employee.
Issues with the company scaling
If you have a successful business, it will grow and you will get more orders. This is something you need to take into account. You need to provide a higher number of personnel, you will need more boxes and more time. If your business is growing, you will have to consider hiring an extra workforce. Failing to do so will make you work 24/7.
When you should start with outsourced fulfillment?
Eventually, you may want to start with outsourced order fulfillment. This is basically when a third party company will process your orders and take care of your inventory. There is no single answer, but rather a few situations when you should start considering it.
Your business is becoming massive
If or better said when your business is massive you won’t have the time to do self-fulfillment of the orders anymore. This means that you need a lot of new items, you send a lot of boxes every day and you need more hands to help you. In that case scenario, 3PL service providers are highly recommended.
Managing fulfillment is becoming expensive
The cost of self-fulfillment is getting too high. You need to pay the workforce, insurance, equipment and so much more. You are starting to lose money and you will need to opt for outsourced fulfillment as soon as possible.
You don’t have the time to do it by yourself
Obviously, when your business requires from you many other things, besides self-fulfillment of the orders, you need to find an alternative. You are losing money because you don’t have the time to focus on profitable processes.
Self-fulfilment of the orders is something each and every business owner has done and probably most are using it as long as possible. It is the first step towards a successful business and a process that can help you save money, in the right conditions.