The principal objective of individuals starting any business is surely to see that enterprise grow.
That is particularly true within retail. In an age when the internet has enabled even micro-businesses to reach prospective customers on the other side of the globe, the potential to dramatically increase sales is within everyone’s reach.
It is a process made somewhat easier by the presence of a number of online market places generating the kind of platform for firms which might find it considerably more difficult to catch consumers’ eyes on their own.
However, as many companies know, building appeal and converting that into sales is one thing. Growth is also dependent on the ability to swiftly and capably satisfy the orders which come in.
Such concerns were much in evidence at an event which we attended in London recently.
We talked to a considerable number of the more than 500 SMEs present and all shared the same concerns about how best to exploit the growth opportunities before them – making more sales – and still keep customers happy.
These growing pains, for want of a better phrase, are remarkably similar, no matter the size of business or the type of products which they sell. Equally, the solutions are roughly the same, albeit allowing for the differences in scale as companies grow.
Finding the room to store larger volumes of stock to meet greater numbers of orders is arguably the most pressing and, together with the administration and time needed to pick, pack and post purchases to consumers, causes most discomfort as firms expand. Owners can find it difficult to do all that without limiting the amount of resources available to develop.
That is where the true value of fulfilment specialists lies.
Having a trusted partner that can offer the space to accommodate more product and the ability to package and dispatch orders is important as it frees you to concentrate on running your business with the clarity of information needed to establish an effective growth strategy.
One common question from some small e-retailers at the recent London event was whether fulfilment was beyond them for the time being. Whilst they might be small for now, there’s no telling when a product line will take off and be in demand.
Fulfilment is like any other element of a well-rounded business strategy. It’s not necessarily about the here and now but putting in place contingencies should the best – or worst – happen. Having the resources to meet evolving circumstances is an essential part of eCommerce, especially when retail profits and reputations can be made or lost almost overnight online and on social media.
Recognising and then acting on the need for fulfilment support is a significant point in the life-cycle of a business but the costs of making that step are not prohibitive.
They are dependent on the requirement and, even then, should be viewed as an aid to growth rather than merely an outlay.