“Cheapest” is often the most sought-after characteristic of fulfillment solutions for heavy, bulky products when someone is new to outsourcing, but you’ll never hear it after that company has experienced a disastrous quarter or peak season. One series of damaged orders, price increases because someone forgot to check DIM weight, or a spate of late shipments that hurt your bottom line are all possible when fulfillment isn’t focused on products like yours. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Your operations can avoid surprise cost increases and losses related to shrinkage by finding reliable fulfillment solutions engineered to support heavy, bulky products. With carrier rates and fee increases so far in 2022, shipping these can be an expensive challenge. However, with the right help, you can not only get it right but offer a compelling enough service that customers keep coming back for more. Let’s look at the current barriers to that excellence and how you can jump the hurdle.
Why is heavy, bulky often expensive?
ECommerce companies with heavy, bulky products face some of the highest fulfillment costs in the space because of the materials and equipment required to manage these goods. Such large items often require multiple people to lift, can’t be placed on traditional conveyors, and need forklifts even for LTL or individual shipments. Both warehouses and carriers will need this support, increasing the potential for added costs — especially if they don’t specialize in heavy, bulky products.
Carriers increase costs for heavy and bulky items. UPS, for instance, will add fees for packages weighing more than 70 lbs. If it’s heavier than 150 lbs., fulfillment solutions are forced to use its freight shipping programs that are typically slower than the two-day and three-day demands today’s customers have.
Appropriately protecting your materials scales your costs too. As you already know, heavy, bulky goods can do significant damage to their packaging in transit. They can break and bend if you don’t construct boxes rigorously enough, damaging your goods. Dense cushioning protects against damage related to inertia and weight, but these materials also increase the weight of your goods.
Why do most companies need extra help?
Most eCommerce companies selling heavy, bulky products turn to outside fulfillment solutions designed to support their operations. Simply put, it’s because those 3PLs are experts at handling, protecting, and shipping large items. They’ve got experience with secure packaging, the right equipment to safely move goods, and know when you might save by splitting one order into two packages. It’s their business to know how to move your products most effectively and affordably.
Fulfillment service providers will have the right tools to safely get your orders out the door. That can start with specialty shipping materials and heavy-duty options, plus the ability to evaluate and adjust materials for proper cushioning. These 3PLs will also have access to more substantial materials to prevent damage to your products during storage and in transit.
The final consideration for fulfillment partners is their labor force. You’ll want fulfillment solutions staffed by professionals who know how to safely lift heavy objects, operate carts and forklifts, and are trained against bad habits or shortcuts. Doing this yourself would require an extensive management and training team on top of a large labor force to fill orders, store inventory, and keep your warehouse operational.
How should fulfillment solutions respond?
Every order has its own set of requirements and a best method for getting it to your customer quickly, efficiently, and intact. Fulfillment centers that support heavy, bulky goods need to respond to each order with a proven plan for protecting those goods while optimizing your shipping spend. Getting that right means not only understanding your products, but also your business and customers.
A slow choice, damaged box, or incorrect contents can all lead to returns or losses of repeat business — and those are serious threats to your business.
Fulfillment solutions, particularly those created by 3PLs that specialize in big, heavy, bulky, or high-value products like Red Stag, are able to get your orders from the right warehouse to the customer’s house accurately and efficiently every time. What’s important is their ability to tailor those solutions to specific products and orders, minimizing your costs without introducing risk. Then, it’s a matter of scaling — scaling the solutions to match your business growth. That all sounds simple, deceptively so. If you’ve tried your hard at heavy, bulky fulfillment, then you know how tricky this all can be. So, don’t look for a company that has a rigid plan — find fulfillment solutions that are intelligent and crafty, able to adapt for each order, and still align with your company’s goals.
How can you start with expert fulfillment solutions?
Start by allowing yourself to think about the hard work you’ve done so far and what you would rather do instead of managing a warehouse, filling orders, or tracking labor spending across multiple shifts each day.
The trick to getting started with a fulfillment partner is standing up, taking a deep breath, and stretching. Give yourself just a moment away from thinking about specific packages or orders, or that one product that your team (or current 3PL) can only get through transit unbroken about 50% of the time.
Fulfillment solutions need to take care of that and more. You should be empowered to spend time focusing on ways to grow and expand your business, delight customers, and discover the next big thing. Let providers like Red Stag manage the heavy lifting by putting your business and your customers first. We do that with a tailored solution designed to fit your operations. It all starts with a conversation where we learn a little more about you, and that’s just a click away.