Tag Archives: outsourcing

Order Fulfilment

What You Need To Know About Order Fulfilment

Order Fulfilment

As the online industry continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, the demand for outsourced fulfilment companies has never been higher. After all, sellers don’t set out to become warehouse keepers when their main aims should be to source and sell great products.

Deciding to outsource your order fulfilment is all about timing, and centres around three essential trigger points:

1: Sufficient demand

2: Sufficient margin

3: The need to employ people or take on a warehouse

What is Outsourced Order Fulfilment?

To summarise, Order Fulfilment is defined as asking someone else to pick pack & ship your orders, so you don’t have to. Any leading third party fulfilment house would house numerous retailers under one roof, providing them with a range of additional support services. Such services could include anything from web photography and listing support through to enquiries handling and inbound telesales.

For a nominal cost per order, outsourcing you fulfilment frees you up to take care of the more virtual aspects of sourcing goods and marketing.

How Would I Know When to Outsource?

Running a successful online business will normally result in various growing pains along the way. A lack of space, time, expertise and cash are common stumbling blocks normally associated with business growth.

Some sellers that have a clear business plan decide to outsource from day 1 and spend their time in other key areas of the business. Other sellers decide to keep things in-house until they have established “proven demand”. With outsourced fulfilment you only “pay for what you use” hence when orders are low your costs remain low.

A minimum of 100 orders per week, or around 15 orders per day is a useful threshold at which some of the above constraints should be evident and sufficient benefit can be obtained from outsourcing.

Can I Afford to Outsource?

The more pressing question is can you afford not to?

If space, time and know-how are holding you back, then outsourcing to a reliable fulfilment house is a sure-fire way to regain control of your business. If you intend to sell on line for a bit of “pocket money” then fine – You should stay as you are, enjoy it and treat it as hobby.

If you have greater ambition to be a sizeable seller, then sourcing great products at the right price and taking them to market will require dedication. Employing staff, taking on an industrial unit etc, all contribute to your fixed costs. Meanwhile your cost per order equivalent is more likely to exceed that of any flexible “pay as you use” alternative.

More often than not, fulfilment houses are able to pool their throughput with the major carriers to obtain lower delivery tariffs. In tapping into such buying power, savings can be realised and often offset the cost of picking your orders.

How can I expect to benefit from letting someone else pick & pack my orders?

There are numerous benefits to be realised as result of “letting go” of the physical aspects, and these include:

  • More time to source & sell
  • Space is no longer a concern
  • A better work/life balance
  • A scalable business (complete flexibility)
  • Steal a march on the competition
  • Tap into existing industry expertise, and knowledge of “best practice”
  • Potential to lower your operating costs
  • Potential to grow your sales through channel expansion

Demand for outsourced order fulfilment is growing as quick if not quicker than the online world itself as more and more sellers realise the advantages of working with a third party fulfilment company.

You can get more information on picking and packing orders from our other blog posts.

A brief re-cap

If you value your time and are serious about growing your online business then outsourcing should be a viable option for your business. Employing warehouse staff and taking on industrial or self-store units merely adds to your fixed costs, reduces flexibility and increases risk. Alternatively, you could consider moving some of your lines to a fulfilment centre, like 3P Logistics as an initial move. Instead of taking on more staff or space, examine the possibility of moving stock that takes up an appropriate percentage of your orders into fulfilment and study the cost and time benefits incurred. It can offset your expansion costs, and open up your eyes to the benefits.

Outsource Your Logistics Operations 3PL

2016 – Outsourced Logistics Becomes The Norm

Outsource Your Logistics Operations 3PL

Today’s business models demand a much leaner, flexible and scalable approach that is very much akin to the concept of outsourcing ALL non-core activities. Every business needs partners and 2016 will see a real shift towards outsourcing becoming best practice and the new norm.

So how do you decide if you’re ready to outsource?

With over 25 years in the sphere of third party logistics and currently providing warehousing and logistics support for many aspiring businesses Ian Walker shares his thoughts:

In-house Operations vs. Outsourced Operations?

The good news – there is no right or wrong answer here as only a set of pre-determined circumstances can determine the appropriate outcome. Such circumstances are governed by a wide range of factors including people, timing, finances etc.

When asked to quote for our services we start by understanding the key drivers for change and what are the perceived benefits to be realised from outsourcing. Adopting such an impartial and consultative approach at this early stage ensures that the right guidance is offered regardless. In the main outsourcing should be seen as a long term commitment and long term partnerships can only be realised when both parties fully understand and are able to satisfy each other’s needs.

It’s the same in marriage – so why should business life be any different?

The Climate

A decision to outsource can be determined by many factors and a subsequent weighting is normally applied. A number of common elements that act as the proverbial tipping point for outsourcing include:
– A dilution of the core activities due to a lack of time
– The existing building lease is up for renewal
– A desire to convert assets such as buildings and equipment to hard cash.
– A growing business with insufficient capacity and experience
– A decision to expand into International markets
– A need to reduce operating costs by Leveraging the collective buying power of a 3PL
– An Inferior service level compared to the competition.

All of the above and many more are valid reasons to consider forming a long term alliance with a relevant industry expert.

Gain a Competitive Edge

There is logistics and then there is value added logistics. Do not be fooled into thinking the two are the same as they offer a very different proposition and can often prove to be your competitive edge in a “me too” marketplace. Value added logistics providers not only provide the basic warehousing and distribution services you would normally expect but will also provide on demand access to a comprehensive “sweet shop” of support services including:
– Re-work / Co-packing
– Pre-retail
– Product refurbishment
– Call centre operations i.e. Inbound telesales
– Customer services
– Web photography
– Digital studio i.e. Listing support & store design
– Demand planning etc.
– Freight forwarding and customs support

Traditionally such services would be spread across 4 or 5 business types but not anymore. Logistics pioneers of this variety remain in short supply and finding a partner that can offer such versatility provides a real competitive edge and greater efficiency.

Focus on Your Core Activities

If you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer then warehousing and transportation is not your core business nor is it your core area of expertise. Every day spent in this field may well detract both directly and indirectly from the main areas of focus and negatively impact the bottom line.

If you aren’t in pursuit of growth and you wish to touch and feel every aspect of your business then outsourcing probably isn’t for you. On other hand if you are seeking significant growth and your perceived constraints centre around physical infrastructure and industry expertise then forming an alliance with a reputable logistics service provider could well unblock the blockages.

Outsource to Gain Control

There is a common misgiving that outsourcing various services relinquishes control. In today’s modern world of web based applications and management reporting this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The time gained through outsourcing some of the more physical aspects of your business combined with info on demand puts you bang in control. Instead of being the oarsman operating below deck you instantly become the captain above deck and the management information supplied acts as your instant to dashboard for key metrics associated with the your business.

If you’re serious about scaling a business then a carefully selected partners are key to achieving this aim.

The Utopia

The last few years has seen a growing trend of businesses opting to downsize and relinquish physical operations in exchange for an out of town head office that also houses the sales function with showroom feature where applicable. More often than not it is the warehouse that governs the location of the head office and without the warehouse the choice becomes a whole lot more attractive.

Amongst our many clients across the retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors there are many examples of a head office and a third party warehouse working in tandem and to great effect.

As a value added logistics provider 3P Logistics work in partnership with Splashabout International a leading manufacturer and retailer of baby swimming products worldwide. Our client conducts its central functions from its head office in Grimsby and from our purpose built order fulfilment centre in Wigan we provide an extensive range of support services including freight management, warehouse storage, b2b trade order fulfilment, b2c ecommerce fulfilment and client services.

It Seems Like Yesterday

WOW! – How time flies?

Yes It`s been a whole year since we entered our shiny new order fulfilment depot in the North West – and my what a whirlwind of a year it’s been!
In the space of just 12 months, our 75,000 square foot warehouse and call centre facility carries over 30,000 unique product lines and over 3.5 million units and the extra space has certainly been put to good use.

3P Logistics Racking

In keeping with the growing demand for outsourced logistics services the depot has seen a wave of investment over the past 12 months which has enabled both existing clients to grow and for new business to join us. Since relocation, three additional phases of racking have been installed catering for over 3000 pallets of storage. In addition, a 3,000 sq ft mezzanine floor was installed and is now in full flow with phase 2 imminent. With an ever increasing demand for pick and pack services our packing stations appear to be breeding and at the last count some 15 workstations were in action.

3P Logistics Packing and Storage

Our 5,000 sq ft of head office space has also undergone some exciting changes, too. In addition to the 8 seat call centre, a web photography studio and staff shop is now housed within and adds real value for our clients.

If 2014 was great then 2015 promises to be a landmark year for everyone associated with 3P Logistics.
If you`ve ever considered outsourcing your warehousing and logistics to a third party then now could be the ideal time.

To find out how an association with 3PL can help support your business on the journey of “good to great”…

Chat to us: 01942 720 077
Email us: enquiries@3p-logistics.co.uk

Why Choose Outsourcing?

With Christmas firmly behind us, the New Year is a great time to re-evaluate your logistical set up in planning for another year of trading. Everything from freight imports, warehousing, end customer delivery and the quality of your logistics is an important factor in the success of your mission as an aspiring retailer.

It’s easy to identify that a smooth-running logistics operation will lead to a more successful business with lower operating costs, higher customer satisfaction and higher profitability. However it’s still very much the case that some business owners find it difficult to consider outsourcing as an option and to pass over such responsibilities to a third party.

3P Logistics In House Solution
Image source: Hostgator

In the first instance, the mind-set barrier of relinquishing control needs to be broken down. For many retailers, outsourcing delivers countless benefits which allow them to focus their efforts on other areas such as selling and merchandising, while leaving the logistics in the hands of a business dedicated solely to this function. The benefits gained by those who outsource enable them to grow quicker, and as a leaner business they are able move ahead of their competitors with greater flexibility, lower cost structures and higher customer satisfaction.

When a company outsources, its retail logistics can become more efficient through the ability to leverage processes, knowledge and expertise from a business whose sole focus is on the logistics process. You can hold your logistics partner completely accountable for the full process from transportation, deliveries, warehousing, installations and aftermarket support, taking off further strain of any pointing fingers – After all, it’s much easier to replace an outsourced vendor who isn’t holding up its standards than it is to replace and entire internal department. Your logistics partner can also respond quickly to daily, weekly and monthly volume demands making for quicker response times to stock fluctuations.

Outsourcing is a great way to take pressure from a business and leave it in the hands of people who are dedicated to the process needed to relieve that pressure, leaving you to focus on the core elements of your business and on its growth and success.

Banish The Post-Christmas Blues!

With the Christmas period now firmly behind us, our waistlines can begin to recover from the over indulging of the holiday season – but can the same be said for your business?

The festive season is known as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but spare a thought for the thousands of retailers beavering away behind the scenes to help bring Christmas joy to millions of families up and down the land.
Were you one of the countless online sellers struggling to meet demands and dreading this period due to the added stress and pressure?

If so, this simply does not have to be case.

3P Logistics
Image courtesy: thechickenshavehadenough.blogspot.co.uk/

I have no other choice – DO I?

Make the smartest New Year’s resolution yet by outsourcing your order handling to a third party Order Fulfilment Company and help to reduce the strain. By choosing to outsource to a 3PL, your business will not only benefit from increased scale but you will also manufacture the time to focus on other aspects of the business. The time spent storing and keeping track of stock, packing and posting etc., often detracts away from the critical focal points of sourcing and selling. Outsourcing to an order fulfilment company can often prove to be a cost-effective solution and help give your business the edge in a very competitive world.

How does it work?

-You send your stock to be securely stored and visible on system
-Customers place orders
-Orders are then extracted from your site/marketplace
-Orders are picked and packed to specification
-Timely delivery of orders on the selected service and system confirmation

What are the benefits?

Outsourcing is a great way to free up time, space and to save money. By choosing to outsource to an Order Fulfilment Company, orders are progressed from the point of inquiry right up to point of delivery including after-sales support. With orders being taken care of elsewhere, you can focus on the core elements of your business and on fueling business growth rather than simply “getting through” a working day. Outsourcing order fulfilment can result in lower operational costs which frees up money to be spent more effectively on other elements of your business, and let`s not forget the impact to work/life balance.
The ever-increasing demand for outsourced logistics shows just how beneficial a warehouse and logistics partner can be to your business.

Make outsourcing top of your New Year’s resolution list today and start enjoying the benefits tomorrow.