You can optimize the performance of your enterprise and save countless headaches by automating shipping for your online store.
If you’re just setting up shop, don’t give up control of your shipping process – at least not yet. Shipping is a critical part of building a positive customer experience and ensuring that buyers receive goods as promised. Also, you want to keep your expenses low at this stage of the game.
Nothing’s worse than hitting a shipping snafu when you’re trying to build your brand. As an example, imagine – at this early stage in your business – that your new third-party logistics (3PL) partner loses 20% of your shipments. It will undoubtedly prove a painful experience, as you most likely won’t have the budget, inventory or volume to replace those orders. This hypothetical scenario highlights the importance of thinking through your logistics partnership carefully.
When It's Time to Level Up
During the early stages of your enterprise’s operation, you want to retain control of the shipping process. There’s no need to risk additional expenses when you can ship your orders manually. Meanwhile, leverage automation as much as possible. Continue to do this until you start shipping a higher volume of goods. Then, it makes sense to partner with a 3PL provider.
Starting Out Right
You can set yourself up for growth by automating in-house order processing and shipping. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there to get you started. Many are easily accessible, cost-effective and will help you optimize your order taking and shipping process. As an example, Shipstation is perfect for testing out automation and setting up your retail operation for a future 3PL partnership.
If you ship less than 500 orders a week, you’re probably not ready to collaborate with a third-party logistics provider just yet. To start with, shipping volume that small isn’t enough to provide you with any type of leverage to negotiate reasonable rates with a logistics partner – if they’ll take your business at all.
When the Time Comes: Partnering with the Right 3PL
A massive sales spike can slam your shipping operation as hard as WWE Raw. The only difference is that the demise of your company won’t be staged. You can come up with a brilliant marketing campaign that catapults your orders from 500 orders a week to 10,000 weekly orders overnight, and many companies have accomplished this successfully.
Where they failed was in mission-critical errors that crippled their growth. This is when it makes sense to partner with a 3PL. Once you have the numbers to throw up, or you’re going to invest in a marketing campaign that may result in phenomenal growth, then it’s time to talk about partnering up with a logistics expert. Moving forward, you’ll continue to take customer orders, but your 3PL partner will fulfill them.
Smooth Sailing Ahead
Now, imagine your business seamlessly taking orders, shipping goods and satisfying customers. You’ve partnered with an exceptional 3PL provider and everything’s going great. At least, this is how you want things to go.
If you’re going to position your business for a big growth spurt, it’s a good idea to consult with a competent 3PL first. If you launch a powerful marketing campaign and can’t fulfill your orders, you’re going to hurt your brand – badly. What’s more, you’ll lose sight of growing your business because you’re so focused on trying to keep your head above water.
If you neglect to shore up your shipping process before a growth spurt, any number of things could go wrong, including running out of storage space or overspending on storage – things that you rarely think about when you’re in marketing mode. If your marketing campaign produces sustained growth and send sales through the roof, you could exhaust every conceivable resource, including cash, goods and personnel, and no amount of money will save your enterprise.
If you get to the point that you’re filling more than 20 orders a day, it’s time to talk to a 3PL provider. Just make sure that you work with someone that you can afford. By choosing the right 3PL, you can position your enterprise for growth now – and in the future.
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