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How Can an Order Fulfilment Service Help Small Businesses?

 7 minutes min read

Running a small business can be challenging, from establishing and collecting a customer bas...

Running a small business can be challenging, from establishing and collecting a customer base to coordinating stock and hiring a workforce. Each aspect of creating your business’s substructure requires dedicated time and effort, which is not at all simple without an order fulfilment service. The eCommerce order fulfilment process can be the most challenging aspect of getting a small business up and running. 

From the point of your customer orders to the end of successful delivery and customer satisfaction are all significant steps in the order fulfilment process. Ensuring you can manage increasing orders, predict demand and store your stock are also essential aspects of order fulfilment for small businesses that are often forgotten. 

 Small business shopping is especially relevant to Gen Z and Millennial customers who are actively buying products because of their small business origin. Whether due to the negative impacts of larger businesses on the environment or the companies' ethics, more people are aiming to shop with small businesses. 

Successful businesses grow and develop regularly. However, most small businesses run into issues with the fulfilment of orders, predicting supply and demand, or 

exploring multi-channel fulfilment as the business grows. 

The problems usually relate to the inability to keep up with the increase in orders and demand for stock and order fulfilment as the business grows. These growing pains can be supported through an eCommerce order fulfilment service. 

How Can An Order Fulfilment Support Your Business? 

The order fulfilment process is how customers get the products they paid for. The primary goal of fulfilment services is to assist small businesses in elevating the customer experience with a service tailored to their needs. Outsourcing to a fulfilment service could give you access to help with shipping, business costs, inventory management and platform integrations. 

A 3PL order fulfilment service is designed to elevate businesses. From assistance with storing and shipping to packaging and platform integration, an order fulfilment service provides the support necessary for business development. The level of support is tailored to business needs. 

Improve Shipping Speeds and Costs

For customers of any business, shipping and delivery speeds are becoming more and more of a vital aspect of the ordering process. Delivery speeds are critical to customers, with 53% of online shoppers stating that the timeframe of the delivery method is a vital factor when deciding if to purchase. 

With giant corporations like Amazon offering same-day and next-day delivery, they have set a precedent that has echoed across other eCommerce businesses. Most larger companies have managed to keep up with these customer expectations, but this isn’t always possible for small businesses, and it is tough to accomplish alone. 

Order fulfilment services have access to several tools that can increase a business's shipping speeds. As shipping is one of the primary factors for customers choosing where to shop, fulfilment services allow small businesses to compete with established and large-scale eCommerce businesses on their shipping. 

3PL order fulfilment providers have the personnel to package your orders quickly as they arrive, deal with returns and offer access to multiple shipping providers to give your customers options. Late cut-off times for last-minute customer orders are also a widely utilised tool that can assist small businesses in successfully fulfilling orders. Later cut-off times could mean a customer would purchase from your small business rather than a significant competitor. 

Additional costs, including shipping and other fees, are also a concern to customers. According to a survey on customer shopping habits, 48% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts if the shipping is expensive or any other fees occur. Due to their size and impact on profitability, small businesses rarely can offer free shipping or discounts on shipping as an incentive. This, combined with the inability to provide fast shipping, can affect a customer’s willingness to purchase. 

Order fulfilment services partner with multiple delivery companies to offer the best value and fastest shipping rate. This partnership also allows the fulfilment services to negotiate discounts for companies placing large orders, bulk orders or increasing orders around peak periods. 

Elevate Inventory Management and Multi-Channel Fulfilment 

Order fulfilment for small businesses can depend on how well their inventory is managed and kept track of. Especially during peak periods, losing track of inventory can result in unhappy customers who have had orders cancelled and confusion for you and your staff. 

3pl Inventory management can assist small businesses in the correct direction of stock to keep up with demand. Outsourcing with an order fulfilment service prevents the human error of stock being miscounted or forgetting to order specific products. Inventory management systems can tell your small business what’s in stock, what’s selling, what’s not, and what needs re-ordering. 

The inventory management process can be even more confusing for small businesses that sell products on multiple sites. Multi-channel fulfilment is a method of making eCommerce order fulfilment simple. This third-party technology can integrate all orders from different eCommerce platforms to update stock and order statuses correctly. For example, If your small business sells its products on its website and sites like Etsy and eBay, all orders from every platform will be recorded together. These systems limit stock confusion and prevent you from managing orders from several platforms. 

If your small business already has an inventory or multi-channel system, order fulfilment services can work with your current system to prove its efficiency or help you work with a new system.

Reduce the need for Storage Space 

A considerable expense for a small business is inventory storage, like warehouses. Predicting stock demand and attempting to hold that inventory level for busy periods is a significant aspect of order fulfilment for small businesses and can’t be achieved without storage. In slower periods, the large storage area your company has acquired may cost you more while that ample storage space isn't used. 

Order fulfilment services allow you to customise your storage space depending on how many orders your business is fulfilling. If your business alters, so can your storage space, meaning that you are only paying for the storage space that you are using. This could save you a lot of money and reduce stock clutter in your space. Giving you more space to work on your business. 


Drive Customer Satisfaction  

Unlike larger businesses that can afford several negative reviews, small businesses rely on good reviews to promote and grow their brand, and poor reviews can significantly impact this. As customer satisfaction is and needs to be a considerable focus for small businesses, the main goal of order fulfilment services is ensuring that your customers receive the correct orders on time.

60% of Gen Z‘s and Millenials have purposely chosen a product based on it being owned by a small business in the last three months. 73% of Gen Z are also willing to pay more for sustainable products and services that limit negative climate impact or promote positive and relevant ideology. The increase in traffic for small businesses means that successful order fulfilment and positive reviews are even more significant. 

Successful small business order fulfilment is entirely possible without outsourcing. However, when it would take a small business to match the shipping times and general standards of a large corporation with a larger workforce, time is lost on other essential factors like marketing and product design. An order fulfilment service packages products as soon as they are ordered and ships them as quickly as possible, helping you as a small business to meet customer demand. 

Making mistakes is human, and every business has made order fulfilment errors. Third-party order fulfilment services can minimise the mistakes made in orders by having more staff available for quality checks before packages are sent. This helps leave your customers satisfied and reinforces your positive reputation.

Offers Tailored Price Packages 

Many third-party fulfilment companies offer tailored price packages depending on business size, monthly order amounts, and storage space. Price calculators are used and can be amended depending on the use of the above factors. 

Cost Saving 

Outsourcing and paying an order fulfilment company can initially seem daunting, but it can save your business money in the long run. Here are a few examples of how a third-party fulfilment service can help your small business's finances. 

  • Using a third-party order fulfilment service’s warehouse instead of buying or renting your own for storage saves you money. 
  • Utilising a fulfilment service’s staff to pick up and package your orders means you don’t have to hire more staff. 
  • You will not need to spend resources building an in-house logistical infrastructure. 
  • Limiting the volume of incorrect orders with a fulfilment service will save you the time and resources of sending out replacement items.

These financial savings mean you can use the profits to reinvest in your small business and grow it simultaneously.

Growth, Development and Support

Small businesses will grow with an increased customer base. This growth may advance even more during busy peak or holiday seasons and decrease during quiet seasons. Your demand changes depending on several factors, meaning that you need a system to keep up with different changes in your business. Making changes in-house, such as hiring seasonal temps, is an excellent way to be prepared for demand changes, but busy periods can be unpredictable depending on trends. 

If you want to learn more about preparing your order fulfilment during peak periods, read our insightful guide, How to Elevate Your Order Fulfilment During the Christmas Rush. 

Outsourcing to a fulfilment service offers services fully scalable for your growth. This means that as your small business grows and develops, or when you have a period of increased orders, your storage, deliveries, and support will change with you. This also means you can easily adjust your goals to decrease storage and deliveries during off-peak times. The amount paid to a fulfilment company echoes these changes. This prevents you from committing to and paying for long-term storage locations or postage plans that no longer reflect your sales. 

Fulfilment centres also allow you to track orders and access your businesses’ analytics from anywhere with cloud-based software. This gives you more flexibility and time to focus on the more pleasant aspects of the company. 

Final Thoughts On Order Fulfilment For Small Businesses

The process of order fulfilment is one of the most critical aspects of establishing and running a small business. With the changes in customer expectations due to eCommerce giants like Amazon, other companies of all sizes must strive to meet these growing demands. 

Balancing maintaining high customer satisfaction, the need for inventory and ensuring the best affordable and cost-effective shipping poses a significant challenge for small businesses. This is in addition to the increase in customers (mainly younger generations) wanting to purchase from smaller, more environmentally friendly companies. The services that third-party order fulfilment services offer are needed more than ever. 

Outsourcing to an order fulfilment service can assist small businesses in coordinating their way through these complexities to meet customer satisfaction. These services offer tailored support to strengthen a small business's operations,

from streamlining inventory coordination to optimising multi-channel fulfilment. The benefits range from financial savings to scalability, allowing small businesses to reallocate resources towards innovation and growth.

Discover how you can Benefit From an Order Fulfilment Service.

If you are a small business looking to outsource to a reputable order fulfilment service, we can assist you with every aspect of your order fulfilment journey, from stock storage to multi-channel fulfilment. 

We have been rated in the top seven best order fulfilment companies for small businesses in 2023, ‘best for late order cut-offs’, and recommended for our experience in several sectors. Our team is confident we can help your business run smoothly and elevate your brand’s reputation. 

Contact us to discuss our order fulfilment for small business processes or ask us any questions about how we can tailor our services to your company. 

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