The Telltale Sign You Need a 3PL for Order Fulfillment

In the early stages of a new ecommerce venture, self-fulfillment or shipping orders yourself is pretty standard. It’s manageable, you keep costs down, and you have complete creative control over packaging.

But after a while you may begin questioning if you should outsource fulfillment or keep doing it yourself. After all, shipping orders isn’t why you started your business.

So, how do you know when you’re ready for a 3PL?

It boils down to one major factor: your order volume has increased, and you can’t keep up. It’s at the point when you’re asking friends and family members to help you pack boxes just to meet demand. We’re talking hundreds of shipments a month.

This is a problem because you’re swamped by low-dollar activities that don’t generate revenue, and it’s holding you back from achieving growth. And as you continue to grow, you will spend more time on order fulfillment and less time running your business.

The opportunity cost of completing higher-dollar tasks is one of the hidden costs of fulfilling orders in-house. Not all tasks are created equal. Every hour you spend reacting to new orders that come in – packing items, printing labels, driving to the post office, waiting in line, and so on – you’re missing the opportunity to acquire more customers, develop new products, and launch marketing campaigns.

Delegating operational tasks that can be done by someone else gives you time back and helps you scale your business much quicker.

But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the video below and hear from successful ecommerce company, Creepy Co. on the point at which they realized they needed an ecommerce fulfillment company.

[Related article: Why Moving Away from Self-Fulfillment Was My Smartest Business Decision]

If that scenario sounds familiar, it’s probably time for you to break away from fulfilling orders yourself. You can’t let packing and shipping boxes distract you from growing your business. You will either need to hire full-time employees to keep up with retail fulfillment (and also invest in some tools and space) or partner with a 3PL.

ShipBob helps many small to mid-sized ecommerce businesses spend less time on fulfillment and more time doing what they love. We’ve even automated the entire process, so you can set it and forget it. You simply connect your store and within minutes, your products and orders are synced. Then you send your inventory to our network of fulfillment centers and let us do the rest!