Among many SME retailers, there is a commonly-held belief that the most difficult step in business is the very first.
Having taken the decision to begin trading, though, a considerable number find that managing growth thereafter is the greatest challenge to their prospects of sustained success.
The UK has a strong and justified reputation as something of a haven, particularly for small firms which sell on-line.
That means competition is very intense. To give you some idea, an estimated 200,000 SMEs use trading platforms such as eBay alone to attract customers.
Whether they use such an online marketplace or invest in their own websites, small firms face a considerable task to make what they offer distinctive.
If they can do so and order volumes increase, they soon reach a point where sales may outstrip their initial infrastructure, especially if businesses are run from home or small offices.
It is a situation which UK SMEs increasingly expect. In a survey by smallbusiness.co.uk, 50 per cent of UK SMEs surveyed anticipate revenue growth of at least 4 per cent over the next 12 months.
As good as that sounds, it can amount to something of a commercial crossroads for companies too small to have their own warehouse or supply chain facilities. Do they take a risk on only dealing with sales at a certain level and potentially damage their reputation with consumers or do they seek specialist support in order to grow and retain the very things which made them different?
Having built a fledgling business, it can be difficult relinquishing absolute control. However, calling on reliable fulfilment support can actually enhance an SME’s operations.
GFS Logistics acts as a trusted advisor to more than 50 clients from many parts of the UK and of varying sizes.
They have seen that our holding stock and then taking charge of the dispatch process releases both space and time for SMEs, allowing them to concentrate on selling.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the personality or control of a small brand is lost. One of the key elements that we’ve been able to provide, for example, is bespoke packaging, because we know that how products are presented when they arrive can be as important in encouraging repeat business as the price and range of goods themselves, or the choice and flexibility of delivery method.
We are under no illusion about how big a step it can be trusting others enough in order to trust yourself to let go of fulfilment.
Even so, many of our clients have found that it’s a step forward into a bigger and more rewarding future.