For many direct-to-consumer retailers, outsourced order fulfillment is a misunderstood process – and a polarizing one at that. Some are all-in and couldn’t imagine running their businesses without it, while others are convinced that using a third-party partner will ruin their companies. More are on the fence. So today, we’ll address four commonly-believed myths about outsourced fulfillment operations and provide the facts.
Outsourced fulfillment is only suitable for big, cash-rich companies.
Untrue. Smaller companies can benefit from outsourced fulfillment in a big way too. The key to successful outsourcing at any level is to find a fulfillment partner that fits your business’s unique needs, so you’re not paying for more than you need but are still getting the economies of scale that outsourced fulfillment can provide. Think about it this way: the cost of investing in building a suitable fulfillment infrastructure (developing facilities, maintaining the warehouse, staffing, technology fees, etc.) is much higher than the fees you’ll pay a third-party partner.
Nobody will ever run your business better than you.
Outsourcing does mean letting go of the reins a little – but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up total control over the way your brand looks to customers. Sure, you know your niche and your customers better than anybody else, but outsourced fulfillment providers know order fulfillment because that’s what they do every day. Focus on finding a partner that will truly understand your brand and can provide you with custom solutions that are unique to you if you want to deliver a truly unforgettable brand experience. By staying in constant communication and with regular training along the way, you’ll find that your partner knows your business pretty well and can help it improve based on their industry experience.
My customers will know that I outsource.
Even though it doesn’t mean the same thing it used to, the word ‘outsourcing’ still carries a negative connotation in the eyes of some consumers. However, your process will be seamless with a good fulfillment partner that your customers will never know your partner exists! Work with your provider to train warehouse packers on specific custom packaging tricks and their contact center agents on your products and overall brand voice to ensure that your customers get a genuinely on-brand experience. You can customize your package inserts and packing slips so that customers won’t know your box shipped from somewhere other than your own offices.
Outsourced fulfillment will restrict my growth
We get it – long-term contracts can be scary. But the last thing a successful fulfillment partnership will do is constrain your business’s growth. When you handle operations internally, you’re on the hook not just to create the programs that facilitate that growth (marketing, merchandising, customer service, etc.) but to procure more staff, warehouse space, and technology needs as you expand. The right third-party provider will be able to scale along with you, increasing your warehouse footprint and staffing needs quickly and without disrupting operations. Your fulfillment provider should want to see you grow, so look for a partner with other services, such as product personalization or value-added options, to help you get there.