Every small business starts somewhere. Whether it’s your bedroom floor as you craft and create that newest design or your garage as you pick and package your latest product, we all have been in startup-land. As your business expands, fulfillment and logistics become more challenging. Often, small businesses outsource their fulfillment logistics needs with a third-party logistics (3PL) service as their company expands.
What are fulfillment services and how can they benefit your business?
Fulfillment logistics cover the part of the supply chain that involves all things product transport, inventory storage, packing, and delivering of orders. Oftentimes, small businesses struggle to balance administrative duties with fulfillment needs. Your business doesn’t have to face this challenge!
Fulfillment services come in the form of warehousing and shipment logistics outsourced to a 3PL service (like us)! Outsourcing your fulfillment logistics can be a strategic and necessary upgrade for any small business. Small businesses are often met with numerous pain points that make getting off the ground hard. A good 3PL service works hard to develop these tricky obstacles into massive gains for any business.
As your sales grow, your business begins to expand in staffing and inventory needs. And with greater needs come greater fulfillment challenges and warehousing hurdles. Finding the right team, warehouse, and fulfillment strategy doesn’t have to be impossible. Working with a 3PL service can take the heavy weight of fulfillment off your shoulders and guarantees you time to work on business strategy, focusing more on marketing, sales, and product development. Spend time growing your sales and building your customer base and less on administrative needs. From picking and packing needs to standard inventory monitoring, 3PL services offer convenient management across all fronts.
Shipping Rates and Speeds
Shipping for direct-to-consumer (DTC) orders is often a business’s greatest expense. Shipping rates dictate whether a customer moves forward with their purchase or if they abandon their order in the shopping cart. 3PL services deliver faster shipping and reduce shipping costs by offering discounted rates on bulk orders.
Staying on top of inventory is a challenge, even for the most organized business owner. 3PL services offer tracking for the quantity of inventory and its progress through the supply chain, while also updating stock constantly and keeping accuracy at the forefront.
A lot of learning happens for small businesses at the beginning of their company’s journey, whether it’s testing out new products or testing new marketing strategies for growth. But flexibility is HARD! If you’re being held hostage by your current production patterns, you may hesitate to make changes that could greatly affect how your business runs. With business growth and expansion, the right 3PL service can respond and adapt with you, avoiding fears of meeting inventory needs and maneuvering shipping costs.
Despite all 3PL’s benefiting ecommerce business nationwide, not all 3PL’s are created equal. From hidden costs for onboarding and membership to pricing based on square footage and inventory, many 3PL services prioritize large ecommerce companies over the growing small business. Finding the right 3PL service that offers the most support for your growing business at the right price is key to growing your small company into a booming enterprise .
3PL Services for the Growing Small Businesses
Expanding any business is hard. Expanding YOUR small business is even harder. With so many opinions on how to increase sales, marketing, and developing your fulfillment services, it feels like growing your small business loses its personal touch that made the company so successful in the first place. The right 3PL service keys in on those traits that make your small business YOURS. Let’s take a look into some of the services 3PL’s can offer to benefit your growing business.
One of the hardest parts of working with an outside logistics service is the fear of losing that personalized appeal of working hands-on with your product, shipping, and administrative needs. The right 3PL service allows for you to work hand-in-hand with a dedicated fulfillment team and track your business directly on-site, if need be. Fulfillment space management guarantees customer satisfaction, ability to communicate ad-hoc requests and constant communication regarding status updates needed for orders. Focus more on growing sales and developing your customer base, and less on administrative needs and fulfillment while still maintaining that personalized touch that brought your business so much success.
Choose a 3PL that is transparent about their pricing structure. Don’t let membership fees or hidden costs stop you from growing your business. The right 3PL service offers pricing based on four basic costs, including storage, pick and pack, shipping and hourly rates for special projects. With no monthly order minimums or surprise fees, small business owners have the ability to develop their business at a predictable price point.
Proximity is everything when it comes to developing your small business. The 3PL service that is best for your business should be positioned specifically with your location in mind. Many 3PL warehouses are based in one key location or a few small warehouses around the nation. Our recommendation? Find a 3PL service that offers warehousing near major metropolitan areas, guaranteeing you can drop off your inventory, minimize distance to a manufacturer or distributor, and provide last mile delivery to the local area. Proximity guarantees a hands-on experience with your fulfillment team and the ability to check in on your inventory yourself.
Don’t let multiple platforms stop you from expanding your business potential. With support across multiple channels, the right 3PL service supports orders across direct-to-consumer stores like Etsy and Shopify, personal websites, and more.
Custom packaging should always be approved. Whether it is eco-friendly materials or inserts to support company branding, the right 3PL service will want to support your small business in any way possible.
Combination Workspace and Fulfillment Services
But don’t let the opportunities stop at what a 3PL service SHOULD be doing. Expand your business with a 3PL service that offers micro-fulfillment centers located within co-warehousing facilities. At Saltbox, members can choose to work out of a warehouse or office space to co-locate with their inventory and fulfillment team. With a workspace on site, growing businesses reap the benefits of community, additional storage and logistics support, all in one place.
All 3PL services want to help companies grow and expand, but not ALL services cater to the specific needs your small business deserves. Choosing the right 3PL service means considering what needs your business requires currently and where your business is headed in the future. Focus more on growing your business and less on the logistics, and find the 3PL service that works best for your business today.
At Saltbox, we want to grow your small business with you. Offering all the key fulfillment services all businesses require, Saltbox aims to benefit your growing business by focusing on those personal needs that many 3PL services overlook. You don’t have to expand your business alone. Get started with Saltbox Fulfillment and let’s grow your business together.