The Telltale Sign You Need a 3PL for Order Fulfillment

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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.

[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.

Founder and CEO of Juspy struggled with self-fulfilling orders before partnering with ShipBob. Here’s her story:

“When all the orders came in I would sit on the floor and start folding boxes, packing product, taping boxes and sticking labels on boxes. My back would be destroyed. It was so laborsome, time-consuming, and tiring. On other occasions I would try to box up 100 orders at a time, but there were physical consequences. From the amount of paper cuts on my hands to having a very messy house, the physical toll was intense. I spent about 3 minutes per order on fulfillment.

I almost didn’t want orders to come in. As a one-woman show, I was self-fulfilling dozens of orders each day out of my home office and packing boxes myself. I did not want to deal with fulfillment. I barely had any time to work on the creative marketing and branding side of the business. 50% of my time spent was packing boxes. Not only that, but it was a constant interruption. I would sit down to do an email marketing campaign, have to attend to new orders, and completely lose my train of thought and flow.

I had to find a fulfillment partner and began looking for an all-in-one solution. ShipBob was the exact solution I was looking for. Before ShipBob I would have been terrified if an influencer posted about our product, and an instantaneous 1,000 orders came in, I would have had no way to handle that. Now I am totally ready for that.

I think the biggest benefit and joy of working with ShipBob is the blocks of uninterrupted time I have back. I feel so free today. It really takes the stress out as a lone wolf entrepreneur.”

Leonie Lynch, Founder & CEO of Juspy

[Read full story]

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!

Order fulfillment services

You omnichannel fulfillment partner that's an extension of your brand, from unboxings to 2-day shipping.

Warehouse management

Have your own warehouse? Get ShipBob WMS to reduce mis-picks, save time, and improve productivity.

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Grow into new geographies with ShipBob's international presence in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia.

Written By:

Kristina is the Sr. Director of Marketing Communications at ShipBob, where she writes various articles, case studies, and other resources to help ecommerce brands grow their business.

Read all posts written by Kristina Lopienski