As an inventor or an entrepreneur, have you asked yourself: Once I launch my product, how am I going to ship it to my customers? At IdeaPros, we know what keeps our fellow entrepreneurs up at night, so we talked to Matt Behrendt, our COO, and Carmen Maribela, a fulfillment solution expert at Fulex, about navigating the treacherous post-launch waters and creating a plan of attack from here to eternity.
What Is Order Fulfillment?
Order fulfillment or e-commerce fulfillment company specializes in warehousing, logistics, and technology necessary for your business to run smoothly. In other words, they store your goods and ship them to your customers fast and efficiently. If you’re a manufacturer or a product reseller that is importing from overseas or manufacturing domestically, fulfillment centers will make your job much easier. Fulex focuses mostly on e-commerce and dropshipping, but they do a lot of retail distribution as well. With three warehouses across the U.S., they cater to small to medium-sized businesses offering the same tools that big guys use.
When Do You Start Looking For A Fulfillment Company?
Bring the product into your garage for the first few months. Test how the shipping and packaging work, then ship it to family members and your angel investors.
“Find out what the ins and outs are of shipping your product.” – Carmen Maribela
You want to know beforehand which shipping methods work the best for your product and how to brand your packaging. Once you start focusing on marketing and sales, it is a good idea to start looking for a partner who can handle the logistics, scale your economy, lower your shipping costs, and get your product to the customer fast. This usually happens when you begin having 2-3 orders a day, and you feel the momentum is growing. The process is quick. Within two weeks, the fulfillment center is ready to start shipping your product.
How To Engage With Amazon?
“Amazon should be a piece of your business, but not all your business.” – Carmen Maribela
Amazon can help you ship your product, but they are not a brand builder for you. They will show products similar to yours. You can offer bigger items. Keep the smaller ones on your website to work on loyalty and branding. There are three options to work with Amazon:
- Fulfillment By Amazon – They will store and ship your product for a commission and a processing fee.
- Fulfillment By Merchant – You still receive a commission through Amazon, but it doesn’t have fulfillment fees and gives you more control over your brand. As you or the fulfillment company are doing the shipping, you can use branded boxes or branded tissue paper for a better customer experience.
- Seller Fulfilled Prime – A newer option, where you get the prime members, but you can fulfill the order yourself. In this case, you have to make sure everything goes out on time to avoid Amazon shutting down your account. It is also a better option because it allows you to control your brand and keep your customers.
You can have Amazon shipping handle the bigger, higher-priced items for you. Meanwhile, you ship the smaller ones with lower price points. For example, you can ship a bicycle through Amazon, but you ship all the accessories such as a helmet, bike seat, pedals, and chains through your website.
Important Things To Have In Mind
Everybody requires barcodes these days, so be sure to put them on your product to make your shipping 100% accurate. Before you go to manufacturing think about dimensions because carriers will charge a dimensional weight if your box is too big. If you can manufacture a smaller box, then you can save your customer and yourself on the shipping cost.
The second thing is protecting your product and making sure it passes a drop test, so you don’t risk losing money later on. Last, but not least, branding. Have your manufacturer come up with a nice shippable box branding. If not, your fulfillment company can help you with it. Those three things sometimes get missed, and if you think about them ahead of time, it will save you tons of money.
The “Idea Pros” at IdeaPros have the resources, experience, and tools to help you at this step or any step in the entrepreneurial journey.
We partner with entrepreneurs at any stage and who are ready to invest their ideas. Apply for an interview and let’s explore partnering together.