If your online business recently began booming, congratulations! It is a great feeling to open your inbox and see a flood of order confirmation emails. All your hard work is finally paying off.
However, keeping up with a sudden influx of orders isn’t always easy. Sales spikes can arrive unexpectedly and catch you off guard. How will you ship all those orders out on time?
Thankfully, an eCommerce fulfillment company can help. You don’t need to have a fancy in-house fulfillment center. Third-party fulfillment companies make it easy for you to handle a sudden increase in sales.
WHY THE SUDDEN SURGE OF ONLINE SALES?
You probably have a good idea as to why sales suddenly increased. Perhaps you got a mention in the newspaper or a TV spot featuring your products. Maybe you hosted a flash sale on your website and sold out. If you spent extra on advertising recently, that could also boost online sales.
While some sales increases are expected, they can sometimes blindside small business owners. Something as simple as a popular Reddit post or a blogger mentioning your products can sell out your entire inventory overnight. In these cases, it can be hard to keep up with the unexpected increase in sales.
Here’s what you need to do
Planning for future growth when you aren’t as busy can make the transition seamless. An airtight logistics strategy is critical before a big product launch. Otherwise, order fulfillment errors can jam up your operations and cost you big time, both in terms of your reputation and your wallet.
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
If your online sales snowball, can you realistically handle fulfillment in-house, or will you hire a fulfillment company? Running a cost-benefit analysis can help make the decision easy. It also pays to ask yourself the following questions:
1. How many SKUs do you have?
For companies with few SKUs, it may be possible to pre-package orders in bulk. This usually works for small companies that don’t offer a lot of variations. If you can prepare items for shipment ahead of time, all you need to do is locate the item, print the shipping label, and send it off to the carrier for shipping. But what if you have a lot of SKUs and product variations? Things can get complicated quickly. Precise inventory management and order fulfillment strategies are crucial for keeping customers happy.
2. Can you hire temporary or seasonal workers?
If you have a sales spike due to an increase in holiday or seasonal sales, it is possible to keep fulfillment in-house if you hire temporary warehouse workers to pick and pack orders. It is essential to be realistic about how you will handle this, though. Hiring temp workers means you will need time to recruit, train, and manage new staff. This can be challenging when sales pick up, and business is busier than usual.
3. Can you afford more warehouse storage space, materials, and fixtures?
Private storage space can be costly. In-house fulfillment expenses can also add up quickly when sales peak. You may need professional printing equipment, more storage shelves, extra packing supplies, tape, etc. And what will you do if warehouse equipment breaks and needs replacement? Plan ahead to keep things running smoothly by thinking of problems you may encounter in advance.
4. Can you get better rates by changing the shipping carrier?
Shipping more orders means you can get more significant discounts from the shipping company. UPS and FedEx will work with business owners to reduce shipping rates if you ship a lot of orders. Even USPS offers discounts on some selling platforms.
The bottom line is that the more packages you ship, the less you might pay. Hint: eCommerce order fulfillment companies can get the best shipping rates for small business owners since they do so much business with shipping carriers. Let them negotiate the rates to get the lowest shipping price.
The important thing is to be realistic
A sudden increase in sales is what every small business owner hopes for. But when the day comes, there will be little time to celebrate. Taking steps to plan how you will handle order fulfillment ahead of time can pay off big when your business takes off. If you need help, Simpl Fulfillment will be happy to assist with your order fulfillment needs.