Fulfillment Service : How you fulfill orders can have a major impact on your business
When it comes to shipping and fulfillment service solutions for small business, it is definitely NOT one size fits all. Key variables include the type, weight, size and destination of the items you ship, along with customer needs and expectations. Don’t take fulfillment service lightly. It is often the final touch-point with your customer, and poorly packaged items, slow, botched or overly pricy shipping can be a real turnoff. Don’t make a bad final impression and risk losing future sales to the same customer. Outsourcing fulfillment service can be a big time saver. There are a couple of reasons why this works. For example, your products, labels, barcodes and other unique packaging are stored in the fulfillment company’s facilities. Then, when orders are placed — either through you and your Web site, or perhaps direct to the service — the fulfillment service firm can pack and ship the product. Finally, fulfillment firm can also handle customer service and returns, if you wish.
Discover what to look for in a fulfillment service
Different businesses have vastly different fulfillment service needs, and service choices also vary tremendously. Choose a service that handles volume similar to yours, has good support and is Web-savvy.
FIND A FULFILLMENT SERVICE TO FIT YOUR PRECISE CRITERIA
The Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association, a professional organization for mailing and fulfillment companies, offers a search feature on its Web site that can help you locate a fulfillment service house that’s right for you.
Get help designing your own fulfillment documents
To handle fulfillment properly, you’ll want to integrate it with email notices, invoicing and reports that keep you informed on what’s happening. Many fulfillment services offer a number of royalty-free invoice, email, and report templates that you can customize to fit your specific needs.
See what ‘Brown’ and its affiliates can offer
For many small businesses, fulfillment services available through UPS or its affiliates may be the smart and convenient choice – especially if you already use this carrier.
Integrated fulfillment solutions for eBay sellers, Miva merchants and others
Specialized fulfillment solutions are available for eBay businesses and other Web merchants. Here are a few fulfillment service solutions. ShipWorks, from Interapptive, provides eBay sellers and Miva Merchant users with a complete software solution for managing checkout and shipping. CoLinear Systems has integrated UPS OnLine Tools into its Response for Windows customer/order management software. Infotech Systems, Inc.developed Order Manager as a complete order fulfillment system. It provides complete order tracking from inception to completion. Stone Edge, Order Manager can help you create and manage a small-to-medium e-commerce business.
Fulfillment service that’s fast, easy and guaranteed
While there are hundreds of shipping and fulfillment services nationwide, these have offerings that set them apart. Some offer warehouses that package and ship your inventory and offers a full guarantee. Others offer exceptionally fast Web-based service and can help reduce shopping cart abandonment rates, while others pride themself on high-speed turnaround. Keep a close eye on costs. Using outside fulfillment service adds an expense you may not have factored into your budget. But you should also consider the costs you are avoiding by using them, such as storage space, payroll and your own time. If you charge customers for shipping and handling, you may be able to recover all or a portion of it. Aim to break even on the shipping cost side. Some small companies try to make a profit on shipping, but risk alienating customers who are savvy about shipping costs. List shipping and handling costs separately from the cost of the goods, and calculate the charge by weight, not the cost of the merchandise. Both steps will garner greater appreciation from customers.