Fulfilment Services For Start Ups and Small Businesses

There aren't many fulfilment companies in the UK who cater for start ups and small online retailers.  The simple reason for this is that most fulfilment companies use third party warehouse management software (WMS) which are typically designed for large scale operations.  

This means they need order volumes to obtain economies of scale and make money.  But those fulfilment companies that have created their own WMS have the option to operate the way they want.

What are the best fulfilment companies for start ups?

Currently, Amazon and myWarehouse are two UK ecommerce fulfilment companies who offer affordable order fulfilment, on a pay as you go basis, without needing to impose minimum order volumes, set up fees or a monthly fee.  This is because they both operate a 100% barcoded operation which allows them to batch pick products for all clients at the same time and during the packing process, these items are scanned into orders.

Currently, shopping carts do not provide fulfilment services so you need to choose a fulfilment centre that can be integrated in to your chosen store.

When it comes to order fulfilment, ecommerce businesses and new start-ups can find themselves in an overwhelming situation. As a business owner, you have a million things to think about with regard to managing orders and a pack service. Fulfilling them in a timely manner can be a challenge. That's where order fulfilment services come in, it can be the answer in freeing up business owners and possibly reducing your pack fees by gaining access to better shipping rates

So what is an ecommerce fulfilment service?

Fulfilment services allow e-commerce business or start-up businesses to outsource the storage of their products and the shipping of orders to their customers. Typically, the process is an anonymous one in that the end customer thinks the parcel has been sent from the seller so if the service is good the seller gets all the credit!  Which is how it should be and leads to great customer feedback and helps in growing your business. 

What items can be included in fulfilment services?

Almost anything from clothing to books can be included as part of this service. Items are either picked and packed on your behalf or sent into the outsourcer's warehouse.

Fragile items usually require pre-packaging before sending to the fulfilment centre to avoid the risk of damage.  Plus many pick and pack companies refuse to handle products like alcohol, pornography, 

How could order fulfilment services be beneficial to e-commerce or small businesses and start-ups?

The main benefits to you as a business owner will be a more efficient use of your time.  It will also save you money in doing it yourself. Self storage fees are high and having the space and staff resources is both expensive and time consuming, not to mention the additional capital funds required to set up an operation. 

Make sure you choose an order fulfilment company that has a pick and pack operation that will work with your business.  If the operation is small, it may struggle to cope with peaks in your order demand. However, if you decide to go with a large fulfilment company then you may face fixed fees and minimum order requirements which are fine if you easily exceed them all year round. 

Using a third party fulfilment service will also reduce common inventory management problems, therefore increasing your customer service experience. This will please your customers and help in building customer loyalty to your brand.

Engaging a third party, as part of your supply chain, to manage your shipping and inventory needs will also benefit a business owner's ability to scale up their business, sooner rather than later. Which means new products can reach customers quickly and lead to expansion. 

That said, many start ups do their own order fulfilment to begin with and if you can we strongly recommend you do.  This will not only keep your costs down in the very early, cash tight weeks and months, but also gives you a good understanding of what kind of fulfilment centre you will need when the time comes to expand your business.