How to support your small business with 3PL fulfillment

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
July 07, 2022
4 min read
How to support your small business with 3PL fulfillment

We’ve heard it time and time again. So many people delay starting their own ecommerce business because they’re afraid of the fulfillment process. They think they either have to do everything themselves, which would take up valuable hours of their day that could be spent with their families, at work, or on hobbies, or they think that they have to arrange everything to such a degree that it almost takes up as much time as if they did it all solo, anyway. We’re here to tell you that that’s simply untrue. The ecommerce industry has developed so much over the years, and it’s easier than ever for new players to dip their toes into the business. Read on to discover the fulfillment solutions available for businesses of every size.

Overview

First of all, it’s helpful to define what ecommerce warehousing actually is. Strictly speaking, it’s the storage of physical goods while they wait to be sold online. Goods have to be safely and securely housed and their locations carefully managed to make sure that nothing is lost and that inventory is correctly tallied at all times. Daily operations include the training and management of warehouse staff, building relationships with shipping carriers, and recording all inbound and outbound shipments. It’s a lot to wrap your head around, especially if you’re just starting out on your e-commerce journey and have no idea on how to run a warehouse.

However, despite what many beginning sellers might believe, there aren’t only two options to choose between, namely doing everything yourself or purchasing/leasing a permanent warehouse for ecommerce business purposes. There are a number of third-party solutions in our ecommerce system that serve businesses of all sizes. Not having your warehouse requirements checklist in place and failing to do your research more often than not leaves you with a dining room table full of boxes. So, what are the benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment operations to a third party?

Why go for a 3PL?

First, warehousing enables faster shipping and delivery to your customers. Thanks to the proliferation of Amazon Prime and services like it, the modern e-commerce consumer expects nothing less than delivery within two days and has little knowledge of how warehouse works can be complicated endeavors. If you’re shipping everything directly through your local post office, that often simply isn’t feasible. If, on the other hand, you distribute your goods to multiple locations, you’ll be able to get your products into your customer’s hands that much quicker, while saving you both time and money.

Second, outsourcing your product storage enables everything to be a lot more organized. Warehousing companies are professional organizations who have a checklist of receiving, inventory, and warehouse operations best practices that they abide by in order to make sure that nothing gets misplaced. Your living room and garage, on the other hand, doesn’t have a sophisticated  ecommerce inventory management system, or access to a warehouse receiving checklist template, meaning that confusion and frustration is the order of the day and it’s all that much easier to accidentally ship out the wrong product. Taking those responsibilities off your plate can be a huge relief.

And third, you’ll just save so much time. Why waste valuable hours playing storage Tetris that you could use on developing your products, helping customers, and coming up with new marketing campaigns? In the long run, past a certain point of growth, it just doesn’t make sense to spend so much of your day on packing and fulfillment and formulating a warehousing business plan.

What should you look for in a partner?

What sort of services and standards should a warehousing partner offer? Here’s a short warehouse duties checklist that you can use when finding a company that meets all the small business warehousing requirements to help your startup.

First, data must be available to you as quickly as possible. Real-time updates are highly preferable so you can make sure that you’re up to date on where your products are at any given time. Delays in processing and shipping should be something you’re aware of soon after they happen, as opposed to days later when your customers are messaging you to ask where their packages are. Preferably your warehousing partner has some sort of software infrastructure that provides automatic updates whenever items are picked and scanned. There’s no excuse, however, for completely lacking any sort of warehouse management system for ecommerce purposes specifically. We do, after all, currently reside in the 21st century.

Second, it’s ideal to go with an ecommerce fulfillment company that has warehouses in a variety of locations so that your products can be spread out. If an order comes in from Wisconsin and all of your products are in a warehouse for ecommerce in the Florida Keys, that represents extra hours and days tacked onto the end of delivery that wouldn’t be necessary if you had some products sitting in the Midwest.

Third, you want to make sure that your contract with the warehouse has liability assigned in an appropriate way. You don’t want to have to eat the cost for a destroyed palette of goods due to an accident on the distribution center’s behalf. Any good contract has responsibility for lost or damaged goods built in, minus a certain percentage of shrinkage, which should be minimized by properly organizing inventory.

In conclusion

We here at P2Pseller pride ourselves on servicing businesses of every size, and connecting them to the perfect warehousing and fulfillment companies for their unique needs. With us, you don’t have to worry about even half of the things listed above or pore over a warehouse startup checklist. Instead, we handle all the finer points for you so all that’s left to do is arrange the delivery of goods to your distribution partner. That leaves more of your focus available to spend on the parts of your business that really get you excited. Sign up for a P2Pseller account in just a few clicks to browse our offerings with zero stress, zero phone calls, and zero hidden fees.


Tags

#fulfillment#smallbusiness#solutions#ecommerce
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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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