When you start your eCommerce business, it’s exciting to get your first shipment of products. You set up your eCommerce storefront and wait for the orders to roll in. At first, they are just a trickle. You pack the boxes yourself and send each one off with high hopes. You expand your marketing, and your volume picks up. Now you’ve got your cousin packing orders for you part-time. And you’ve drafted your teenage daughter to handle the overflow when she gets home from basketball practice. You’re bootstrapping everything–including your eCommerce fulfillment. How do you know when it’s time to send your products to outsourced fulfillment centers?
Pretty soon, the problems roll in. You worked out the perfect system for packing your delicate products so they arrive in one piece. However, your family doesn’t have your laser focus on quality. You start to get returns. Customers are posting negative reviews online. You have to turn it around. It’s time to outsource your fulfillment to an outsourced order fulfillment provider.
Outsourced Order Fulfillment by Product Type
If your product is delicate, heavy, contains hazardous materials, or is otherwise difficult to ship, you might want to consider hiring a 3PL firm sooner rather than later. The earlier you integrate with your 3PL service provider, the smoother your operations will run and the happier your customers will be.
Here are four (hypothetical) examples of companies that can benefit greatly from the professional order processing they get at 3PL fulfillment centers.
Heavy Items Benefit from Fulfillment Centers
Ever since his trip to Africa, Brent has been obsessed with elephants. This led him to open a BigCommerce store called Everything Elephants, where he sells everything from elephant t-shirts and jewelry to sculptures of these majestic creatures.
In the beginning, Brent stored and shipped all of his products out of a shed in his back yard. As the business grew and Brent got to know his customers and understand his bottom line, he realized that the elephant sculptures had the best profit margin. He started to focus Everything Elephant on sculptures, selling bigger and bigger pieces to elephant lovers around the globe.There was only one problem: it’s considered unlucky to depict an elephant with its trunk down. Almost all of the elephant sculptures Brent sold had trunks that bent upward. And, no matter how carefully he packed them, those trunks often broke during shipping.
As he was able to sell bigger sculptures, Brent’s profit margins grew, but so did his shipping and warehousing headaches. Plus, his wife put her foot down when he stored a crate of wooden elephants on top of her prize petunias. He needed to find a fulfillment center to provide professional pick and pack services to get orders safely to his customers.
Time to outsource fulfillment
As Brent looked at different fulfillment centers, he realized that he needed more than expert order fulfillment. He needed a 3PL that could safely store breakable sculptures and ship bulky packages. It was also important to find someone who could integrate seamlessly with his BigCommerce store to ship orders quickly. Brent found a 3PL service that had expertise in shipping fragile and heavy items. They packed his coveted elephant sculptures so they arrive with the trunks intact every time.
Red Stag Fulfillment has years of experience in packing and shipping oversized and fragile products. And our zero shrinkage policy means that we pay for any items that break while in our care.
The best 3PL company for Brent wasn’t the cheapest. Still, he crunched the numbers and realized that a 3PL specializing in fragile and oversized products gave him net savings. After factoring in the cost of shrinkage and returns, he came out ahead on fulfillment. Plus, his customer satisfaction ratings went up. Now he had more time to focus on growing Everything Elephant into a mammoth success.
Large and Oversized Products Need Expert Order Processing
When Brent’s cousin Mandy saw the success of Everything Elephant, she decided to turn her lifelong hobby of creating paper maché peacocks into an eCommerce business. Brent helped her create a WooCommerce store and, voila, Peacocks in Paradise was open for business.
The business grew as Mandy connected with peacock lovers around the country. She packed her first peacock orders carefully and shipped them out. She knew Brent was happy with his decision to use a 3PL service, but she didn’t think she needed the help. For one thing, she loved to pack each one of her creations in a big box with lots of tissue and before sending it off to its new home. Plus, her peacocks were very light, unlike Brent’s elephants, so she expected shipping would be a breeze.
The dreaded DIM weight
When Mandy got her first invoice from her preferred carrier, however, she almost fell off her chair. She hadn’t used Red Stag’s FedEx, UPS, and USPS DIM Weight Calculator, and her shipping costs were sky-high because of DIM weight pricing. This pricing method, used by the major carriers, factors in the size of the box as well as the weight. The peacocks were feather-light, but their large tail feathers required a big box. So, even though Mandy’s peacocks weighed much less than Brent’s elephant sculptures, she was paying more for shipping than he was. She shipped in large boxes full of padding, which triggered DIM weight charges. Even worse, she undercharged her customers for shipping and that reduced profits.
All of this caused Mandy to look at fulfillment centers. She didn’t want to give her delicate creations to just any fulfillment company. However, she realized that shipping costs would kill her business if she didn’t do something different. When she found a 3PL service she felt she could trust to pack her peacocks with loving care, they also showed her how she could put them in a smaller box and still get them safely to peacock collectors everywhere.
Part of the service that you get when you use a 3PL is professional guidance on packaging and infill. Using the right packaging will help your products arrive safely and save you money on dimensional weight pricing.
Mandy’s order fulfillment company had a volume contract with her delivery service. That allowed it to negotiate a better DIM factor and pass on the savings to Mandy. She lowered shipping costs for her customers, who ordered more peacocks than ever. Now Mandy is up to her elbows in paper maché and purple paint as her peacocks fly — not literally, of course — off the shelves.
High-Value Products Can Be Safely Stored and Shipped from Fulfillment Centers
When James and Samantha added an eCommerce store to their bricks-and-mortar fine jewelry business, Rock Star Jewelers, they knew they needed a 3PL. Running their retail shop plus keeping their Shopify store product pages fresh took all of their time. They didn’t have time or space to store and ship orders.
Beyond saving them time, however, James and Samantha needed a 3PL that would give their eCommerce customers the same five-star treatment that they gave the customers they served face-to-face. Every order had to be packed immaculately. Rock Star Jewelers’ discerning clientele expected their high-end purchases to arrive on time and in perfect condition. If a customer ordered a diamond bracelet and got a sapphire necklace instead, the consequences would not be pretty for James and Samantha. To save hours of apologizing on the phone, they looked for a top-notch 3PL service.
Outsourcing fulfillment leads to peace of mind
Quality wasn’t the only issue on their minds. James and Samantha needed a fulfillment warehouse that could safeguard items whose price tags often ran over $1,000. They found a fulfillment center with state-of-the-art security where they could relax knowing that their merchandise was in good hands.
Red Stag Fulfillment provides 24/7 security in all our fulfillment center locations. We treat your eCommerce business as if it were our own, and that means safeguarding your inventory. Our warehouses are covered by security cameras, which not only prevent theft but also allow us to pinpoint mistakes and improve our processes. That is one reason for our stellar record of error-free fulfillment.
With the right 3PL service provider, Rock Star Jewelers watched their online sales go platinum.
Hazmat Items and Products Require Specialized Fulfillment Centers
Belinda has always been a tinkerer. Her favorite projects are the ones that have the biggest bang. When she came up with a kit to make a volcano with a large and realistic eruption, her mother suggested she market it to science teachers. So Belinda created a company called B is for Boom and offered the Mega Volcano Kit as her first product.
There was only one small problem: some of the ingredients in her kit are classified as hazardous materials. Belinda wasn’t sure how to ship them since there are special rules governing hazmat shipping.
At first, she drove volcano kits to local schools. They were a big hit with the teachers and the kids, but Belinda was stumped about how to get them out to a wider audience.
Outsourced fulfillment centers were the answer. Belinda found a third-party logistics company that was licensed to store and ship hazmat products. They helped her develop proper labeling and packaging for her kits. The fulfillment centers even took the tedious job of kitting off her hands. Now, B is for Boom could market and safely ship Mega Volcano Kits throughout the United States, and even internationally.
Different fulfillment centers are equipped to handle different types of products. Some are certified to handle food items, including cold storage. Others have the know-how to manage hazmat items. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we work with our clients to make sure their products have the proper classifications, so they don’t pay extra for hazmat shipping if they don’t need to.
In fact, the 3PL service she works with makes shipping B is for Boom products so easy that Belinda is busy thinking up new ideas kits that create explosions. The kids are sure to love it.
How Can Fulfillment Centers Help You Grow Your Business?
Our four fictional business owners saw their businesses flourish with the help of professional fulfillment centers. But the benefits of outsourced fulfillment aren’t a fantasy. In the real world, order fulfillment companies help eCommerce sellers solve logistics challenges every day.
For heavy or delicate items, large products, high-value goods, and hazardous materials, fulfillment centers like the ones Red Stag Fulfillment operates can help you ship your products safely, securely, and quickly. Your customers will thank you.
Want to learn more about how fulfillment centers can help your business? Here are some fantastic resources:
- Do You Really Need to Own Your Warehouse?
- The Complete Guide to Onboarding with a New Logistics Company
- Understanding ECommerce Fulfillment: Definition, Process, Resources
- 3PL, 4PL, 5PL Explained