If you are a small business owner, you would know about the struggle with your first sale. But then, that's barely enough. You need to keep the sales coming in and fulfill them within a certain period to ensure that your customers are satisfied and you are still in business. It is a mentally and physically irritating task, but that's where fulfillment centers can be a game changer for small businesses.
What is a fulfillment center?
A fulfillment center, set up by a 3PL or third-party logistics provider, provides businesses with warehouses, inventory management, order packing, and fulfillment and delivers the same to the customers. When you hire a 3PL for your business, you must keep the products in the warehouse and ensure customers are ready to buy them. The rest of the process, which includes the tiresome labor, will be taken care of by the 3PL.
It's important to note that a warehouse and a fulfillment center are entirely different. A fulfillment center is a warehouse, but a warehouse isn't a fulfillment center. A warehouse is just a building to store your inventory. Managing the inventory, packing, and shipping the products yourself would be best. In turn, you must pay a certain fee to the 3PL. In the case of a fulfillment center, they take care of the inventory management and anything and everything that happens between the placement of the order by the customer to the delivery of the product at their doorstep.
But for things to work out in your favor, you must find the right fulfillment center that fits your budget and knows how to handle your products. Here are 3 tips for finding a fulfillment center that will work in benefiting your small business:
1- The fees or cost
The first thing has to be the cost or fees levied by the fulfillment center. As a small business owner, the initial days are crucial, and you must be stringent about the money you spend on the services. There are a lot of different types of fulfillment centers out there. Pick the one that's suited for your business. If you want to house the product, then a warehouse is fine. But if you want the inventory and packing done, you should go with a fulfillment center.
Further, some providers charge you an initial onboarding fee. Look out for these. Specifically, ask the providers about the onboarding or recurring fees before signing the deal.
3- Providers with multiple fulfillment centers
Go for a provider with multiple fulfillment centers. We will tell you the benefits of that. Multiple fulfillment centers nationwide mean you can be near your customers as possible. It drastically cuts down the shipping fee. You must be smart about the inventory and how it reaches the various centers. That said, providers with multiple fulfillment centers will charge you more than providers with one or two centers. So make sure you have the budget for that.
3- It provides integration with the systems you use
Go for a provider who can efficiently work with your current systems. For example, the 3PL can integrate its systems directly into your website. In that case, you don't have to worry about pinging them whenever an order is placed. They will directly receive the notifications and do the needful to ensure the order reaches the rightful consignee. Things become much simpler for you.