What can a fulfilment firm offer an ecommerce SME?

One of the sections in the new Tamebay Guide sponsored by XSellco is dedicated to fulfilment. With shipping being very much under the spotlight this week, as eBay’s new defect criteria come out later in the week, it really is a germaine time to consider fulfilment services and what they can offer even modestly sized online sellers.

What is a fulfilment company?

In broad terms fulfilment companies take the stress out of holding, handling and sending your stock out. For a price. You warehouse your goods with such a company and then supply them with order information so that they can pick, pack and send the stuff out. Fulfilment services already run such services. All you need do is plug in.

But actually they offer a great deal more than mere stockholding and there are significant advantages to utilising a fulfilment company.

They offer flex. When it comes to busy times and seasonal peaks, you can call on a fulfilment company to take on the excess. This can be great news at Christmas, for instance, when you experience a rush that you may not otherwise be able to cope with. Think of fulfilment as a handy third arm when you’re already running at capacity

Fulfilment services can offer a vital utility if you’re growing fast and need an overflow facility for your operations. Sorting out your own premises and staffing will take time but a fulfilment service can can be up and running in hours. And can really remove some of the headaches experienced by a burgeoning ecommerce business by getting some fulfilment help.

And, don’t forget, it’s not the case that you have to lodge all of your stock with a fulfilment company. Very often, the best use of such a facility will be key lines and fast movers that need to get out of the door quickly. You’re probably best placed to deal with the long tail and niche stock, but with those bread and butter items that keep moving, fulfilment can be a real boon. Especially when you consider the costs you’d otherwise experience.

And perhaps the biggest boon is buying power and expertise. Fulfilment companies can buy in bulk and exercise their clout in negotiations with couriers and the like so that you can really enjoy economies of scale, regardless of your size. This could help you with order cut-off and collection times. Beat the defects?

Yes, your reputation is on the line and it’s vital to deal with a reputable company so you’re protected. But it could cost less than you think and could also be a business lifesaver. Check out some key suppliers in the sector.