When it comes to selling online, there are many ways to manage your sales and get orders to your customers. If you don't have the time or resource to directly send the goods to your customers, one way of managing this is through outsourcing to a fulfilment service.
This could be for part of the process, or could cover the whole thing - holding your product, packaging and sending, and taking payment. There are options available to cover other elements too, such as returns and even customer service support.
Why use a fulfilment service rather than handle your own orders?
If you're getting a large volume of orders, don't have time to keep up with sending your products out directly, or want an alternative to holding your stock yourself, using a third-party fulfilment service might be an option. Benefits include possibly saving money on the warehouse costs of storing stock (as many services will do this for you), a higher level of professionalism (as they're specialists in what they do - are you an expert in packaging, wrapping, sending off efficiently?), not to mention saving on time and staff costs. Of course, the flip-side is that handling your own orders is generally cheaper and gives you more control over the process.
Lola Lawal is the founder of 10ft.co.uk, providing on-trend women's beauty solutions. Lola uses the popular Amazon fulfilment service to help her run her business; it's a third-party solution that enables her to sell through her own website, but have Amazon handle packaging shipping the product. Here's why she chose this option.
Tell us a little about your business
10ft.co.uk is your one-stop shop for on-trend women's beauty solutions at unbelievable prices.
We strive to provide the latest in women's beauty, and with our growing collections we want to create solutions that will slip into your everyday routine. Think products to help organise makeup, accessories and jewellery - even shoes and hair. With our products, customers can organise their beautiful (literally!) chaos.
What does the fulfilment service do for your business?
I use Amazon's Fulfilment service. They help manage my stock inventory, fulfil customer orders, and also provide advertising and reporting services. The service has helped keep my supply chain simple and in one place so I can focus on the important job of building my business. Currently, it's just the ordering and stock process that is automated this way.
Why did you choose this route?
Choosing Amazon was simple - they are a huge, trusted brand with loyal customers. It's an easy place to start. In the future, as my business grows, we might look at other, more specialised, options - for example I have my sights on an independent fulfilment house, who work with a very popular British beauty company.
Is using a fulfilment service expensive?
Currently we are charged a small monthly seller fee, and then we also pay a referral fee (roughly around 15%) for every item sold. There is a charge for inventory storage. The costs are very reasonable and you have to think long-term - for example the time saved that allows me to concentrate on growing my business.
Any other tips for entrepreneurs considering a fufillment service?
Make a list of priority services you need, e.g packaging, handling, storing inventory, customer service etc. Based on these, you can then do your research in order to find a fulfilment service that meets your needs.
The information contained in this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice on any matter. Use of this website is at users own risk and is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship between Virgin StartUp and any user. Information displayed on this website is provided “as is” and Virgin StartUp does not provide any express or implied warranty or representation concerning the information, including but not limited to the accuracy or appropriateness of the information. Virgin StartUp recommend that users seek their own legal advice before taking (or refraining from) taking any action and do not accept any liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the information displayed on this website to the fullest extent permitted by law.