Excellent eCommerce fulfillment is essential to running your eBay business profitably and keeping your customers happy. Fast and accurate shipping from a professional eBay fulfillment provider is one of the best ways to get positive feedback and keep your seller rating high.
When you started on eBay, you probably shipped all your orders yourself. But you need to handle your eBay fulfillment like a pro as your business grows. For more and more eBay sellers, that means outsourcing their fulfillment. Here’s our guide to help you decide whether it’s time to use a 3PL services company to fulfill your eBay orders and how to choose the best eBay fulfillment company.
To Outsource or Not to Outsource?
If you sell used auto parts on eBay, you never know what new treasure you will find at the wrecking yard. Your product assortment and stock will vary from week to week. You want to connect your eBay customers with the parts they need and keep your prices low. To do that, you might need to handle your own fulfillment.
Resale of used products is a terrific way to make money on eBay, but the business model doesn’t lend itself to the standardized shipping boxes and restockable SKUs that 3PLs use. While there are fulfillment companies that specialize in working with eBay resellers, most fulfillment warehouses need repeat sales of the same products to operate efficiently.
On the other hand, if you sell new auto parts on eBay, working with a 3PL can be an enormous asset to your business. Outsourcing your order fulfillment frees up time you can use to source your products at better prices or find suppliers for some hard-to-find replacement parts. Working with a fulfillment company gives you time to market your business and expand your customer base. Plus, affordable fulfillment can be a net money saver for your business.
Here are some factors to consider when you evaluate whether to outsource your eBay fulfillment.
What’s the best use of your time?
Packing and shipping orders can eat into the time you should be spending on product development or marketing. You could, in fact, lose money by keeping your fulfillment in-house.
Do you have the staff you need for fulfillment?
If your eBay fulfillment has become too much for you to handle in-house, that’s great; it means your business is thriving. You could hire employees and rent warehouse space, and for some eBay sellers, that expansion is the right choice. However, in-house fulfillment is one more thing for you to manage, plus it saddles you with fixed costs. If you outsource to a 3PL, you pay only for the storage space and services you use. This variable cost fulfillment model gives you just the fulfillment services you need as your business changes from season to season and year to year.
Would you like more freedom to travel while still making money on eBay?
The beauty of an eBay business is that you can work from anywhere, but your dream home may not be the best location for eBay fulfillment. When you outsource your fulfillment, choose a 3PL with warehouse locations that will reach your customers quickly and efficiently.
Are you losing money by handling your own fulfillment?
The fees charged by a fulfillment warehouse are an added business expense. However, the cost is likely to be more than offset by what you save in fixed costs and shipping errors. The storage rate you pay for space with a 3PL provider could be less than the cost of your own space, plus you’ll save money because more accurate warehousing and fulfillment will reduce your inventory shrinkage and returns.
Is your inventory at risk?
If you store your products in a shed in your backyard, the cost is low, but the risks are high. Professional eBay fulfillment can save your merchandise from floodwaters, nesting mice, and leaky roofs.
Do you need varying amounts of warehouse space?
The amount of space you rent at a third-party fulfillment provider is flexible. You can use more shelf space in your busy season. Then you can shrink your footprint (and save on costs) when sales cool down. Outsourcing your eBay fulfillment gives you flexible overhead.
What is the error rate on your eBay fulfillment?
Fulfillment errors can sink your eBay business and keep you occupied dealing with customer service headaches. Mis-packed orders, shipments that arrive damaged, or orders sent to the wrong address can damage your reputation and drag down your seller rating. At Red Stag Fulfillment, our expertise is an excellent pick and pack fulfillment, so we do it right. Outsourcing your eBay fulfillment to a top-notch 3PL like Red Stag is a terrific way to increase the accuracy of your fulfillment.
What is fulfillment costing you?
Your time is valuable. While you may not pay yourself by the hour, you should account for your time. Add up the time that you spend picking and packing orders or supervising others to do it for you. How much could your business grow if you outsourced your fulfillment?
Why Third-Party Fulfillment May Be the Answer to Your eBay Fulfillment Needs
There are many benefits to outsourcing your eBay fulfillment. Here are just a few.
Save time on fulfillment
In an ideal world, you would ship each item you sell on eBay as soon as the sale is complete. In the real world, a million things can get in the way. The baby needed to go to the doctor, or your water heater broke. Perhaps you got a nasty head cold and couldn’t drag yourself out of bed. When you do your own order fulfillment, life can get in the way of the fast delivery that will earn you stellar seller ratings.
When you use a 3PL, your orders ship without interruption while you find out if the baby swallowed a penny. Outsourcing your fulfillment is like adding a whole new team to your business that keeps orders flowing, so you don’t have to worry.
Provide faster and cheaper order delivery
When you work with a 3PL that has centrally-located fulfillment warehouses, your orders go out quickly. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment’s warehouses can deliver your packages to most addresses in the U.S. in two days or less. In addition, since fulfillment centers are bulk shippers, they can often negotiate lower shipping rates. At Red Stag Fulfillment, our negotiated rates allow us to offer lower shipping rates to our fulfillment clients.
Boost your seller rating
One easy way for eBay sellers to earn negative feedback is slow shipping. Your eBay fulfillment partner can help you communicate with buyers about shipping times, which is a great way to manage expectations and keep customers updated on unexpected delays. It’s even better if their order arrives quickly with no extra hassles. Professional third-party fulfillment can make all of that happen while taking the performance pressure off you.
The employees at 3PL providers pick and pack shipments all day, every day. Fulfillment warehouses have systems in place to ensure accuracy. Your customer’s order can go out the day after your customer makes the purchase (and many times the same day).
Imagine Samantha’s joy when her Justin Bieber phone case arrives in time to take to school on Monday. She’s sure to give you positive feedback.
Your eBay rating can’t afford the 4% mis-pick rate that’s the average for fulfillment centers. At Red Stag, our accuracy rate is close to perfect, so we will send your eBay orders right the first time.
Lower your return rate
A generous returns policy is a must for online sales. In fact, consumers often won’t make an online purchase unless they know they can return items they don’t want. However, returns can be costly, so you want to keep your returns rate low. That’s particularly important on eBay.
In 2016, eBay added return rate statistics to seller dashboards. The marketplace initially said that the metric was for information only, but there have been reports of sellers being removed from eBay or losing their TRS status over returns. This has happened with return rates that would be considered low on other eCommerce platforms. Therefore, a return rate of 5% or less is crucial on eBay. Sellers can accomplish this with clear product descriptions (so buyers know exactly what they are purchasing) and accurate fulfillment.
Since returns have become an essential metric for eBay sellers, the value of expert fulfillment is more significant than ever. An order that is properly packed is less likely to arrive damaged. Fulfillment professionals can help ensure that every buyer gets exactly what they ordered.
As an eBay seller, you have to work harder to make sure your customers are satisfied with their orders. A third-party fulfillment provider can be a valuable partner in reducing eBay returns.
Choosing the Right Partner for Your eBay Fulfillment
The eBay platform is all about communication. Sellers and buyers can talk to each other throughout the purchasing and shipping process. This may cause some eBay sellers to hesitate to outsource their fulfillment. When you have your hands on your own stock, you can let your customers know exactly what’s happening with each order.
As your eBay business grows, however, self-fulfillment can become more of a liability than an asset. It’s easy to miss something when you’re juggling customer emails with one hand and sealing packages with the other. The time you spend communicating with your customers is the key to keeping your seller rating high. A top-notch third-party fulfillment provider will free you to be a better eBay seller.
Choose a 3PL with experience handling products like yours
Are you shipping many small orders or a few big ones? Do your customers order multiple items that might sell better if they were kitted? Do you sell heavy or fragile items that need to be packed carefully to avoid damage in transit? Are your products perishable? Not all order fulfillment warehouses are the same. Ask what kinds of products a fulfillment warehouse specializes in. Then, choose a 3PL provider with expertise in handling products just like yours.
Choose an experienced and reputable fulfillment provider
It’s okay to ask for references from potential order fulfillment partners. Find out what their current customers say about working with them. Ask them for data on shrinkage, error rates, and holiday delays. Find out what guarantees the fulfillment center offers. Red Stag Fulfillment offers guaranteed services like same-day shipping and logging inbound shipments into inventory in two business days or less.
Choose a fulfillment company that can help you grow your business
The right fulfillment warehouse is your partner for eBay seller success. Your 3PL provider will make sure your orders get into your customers’ hands quickly and accurately so you can focus your resources on increasing your sales on eBay. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we are always looking for new ways to help our clients improve operations because we know that growing your business grows our business.
Choose a 3PL that offers a wide range of shipping solutions
Find out which shipping solutions the third-party fulfillment provider offers and choose a partner that works with several different carriers and freight companies. Red Stag Fulfillment offers flexible carrier selection to save our clients and their customers on shipping and find the best delivery times.
Choose an eBay fulfillment partner with seamless platform integration
Make sure you choose an eBay fulfillment warehouse that communicates with you. You should be able to see the status of every order so you can answer buyer questions quickly. The systems at your third-party fulfillment center should seamlessly integrate with your eBay store and all your sales channels. Red Stag Fulfillment provides a dashboard where our clients can track all their orders in one place.
Use Red Stag’s fulfillment company questionnaire to find more questions to ask when you’re looking for your eBay fulfillment partner.
How to Find the Best eBay Fulfillment Company for Your Business
If you started your own eBay business, you’re probably a take-charge, DIY kind of person. As your eBay business grows, outsourcing your warehousing and shipping will help you operate more efficiently. Outsourced fulfillment can increase your profits, seller ratings, and time off.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the work of running your eBay store. When shipping your orders is taking most of your time, you need to outsource your eBay fulfillment processes. When you run out of space to organize and store your products, think about outsourcing. Third-party eBay fulfillment is a more flexible and cheaper solution than renting more warehouse space. When you have to get your return rates below 5%, a fulfillment warehouse can help. An excellent 3PL can boost your seller rating and your eBay sales.
If you still have questions about eBay fulfillment, Red Stag Fulfillment is here to help. Contact us for a free fulfillment consultation.
More about eCommerce platform fulfillment:
- Is Amazon FBA Right for Your Business?
- Guide to Shopify Shipping Options
- Do You Really Need to Own Your Warehouse?