3 simple ways to outsource your order fulfillment

April 24, 2018

Online business owners have to be strategic with their time.

With the majority of their energy focused on growing their customer base (and sales!), tasks like handling inventory, packing boxes, and running to the post office to ship orders can really get in the way.

That’s why so many Shopify merchants rely on third-party logistics ( AKA 3PL) companies to manage the fulfillment process on their behalf.

Want to know more?

Keep reading to find out three simple ways you can create a seamless customer experience when you outsource fulfillment using 3PL's - from the moment a customer places an order on your Shopify store to the moment it arrives at their doorstep.

1. Integrating your Shopify store with your 3PL’s technology

Once your 3PL has been updated with your inventory and your Shopify store is connected to their technology, the 3PL’s fulfillment center can pick, pack, and ship items as soon as a customer places an order.

In order to meet your customers’ expectations of having products delivered quickly and affordably, you need to work with a 3PL that uses integrated technology to power their network of fulfillment centers.

In addition to automatically fetching orders, you can also easily sync over new products as you add them to your store.

The 3PL can even send important details back to you and your customers – such as tracking information – without you lifting a finger. How nice is that?!

And with 97% of customers expecting the ability to monitor their order throughout the shipping process, you can save a ton of time by having this automated.

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You can also combine data from sources that weren’t previously connected to gain new insights.

Bring together current inventory levels at each fulfillment center, sales channels, and all of your customer's orders. Once compiled, you can view metrics like peak fulfillment times, revenue of orders shipped by day, and sales/quantity of orders by USPS zone.

Plus, you can prevent stock outages by setting up notifications to reorder inventory before you run out.

This helps you improve forecasts so you always have the right amount of inventory on hand.

2. Distributing your inventory to strategic locations

Another important consideration when outsourcing fulfillment is deciding where your orders will be fulfilled.

Using a warehouse in the middle of nowhere – compared to using several fulfillment centers that are strategically located in major cities – leads to slower deliveries and unhappy customers.

Offering expedited shipping is important, but is typically pretty expensive.

Unsurprisingly, around 70% of customers abandon their online shopping cart because shipping, taxes, and other fees are too high.

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The key to keeping shipping costs down is to store inventory near your customers.

If your customers are distributed throughout the US, you should split your inventory across different regions.

The more fulfillment centers you use, the more money you can potentially save!

Instead of only offering expedited shipping via air, Shopify merchants that store inventory in multiple locations can offer two-day ground shipping to more people at a fraction of the price.

Because it is typically more expensive to ship a package 2,000 miles than 200 miles, reducing distance or shipping zones will help you reach customers more efficiently and cost-effectively.

So, when your Shopify store talks to the 3PL’s technology, it can automatically select the fulfillment center closest to the customer to fulfill the order.

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3. Customizing shipping options based on end destination

Aside from Amazon Prime and free two-day shipping offers from other giant retailers, it’s pretty common to see $20+ for expedited shipping on a small to mid-sized brand’s website.

If you charge the same flat fee for any destination – even if it costs significantly less for closer destinations – you risk people abandoning their carts due to high shipping fees.

Ex. If you’re fulfilling orders out of LA and you charge less to ship an order just outside LA than you charge for a delivery that’s going to NYC, you can increase conversions for your customers in the greater LA area.

While you could mark up the shipping price, you will likely find the increase in orders from a lower shipping fee outweighs the difference in the markup.

A 3PL can pre-define coverage for guaranteed two-day ground shipping in areas that surround the fulfillment centers that hold your inventory.

As your customer enters their shipping address, your Shopify store can talk to the 3PL’s technology in real-time and validate if the destination zip code is within the area of guaranteed two-day shipping.

This lets you dynamically provide an affordable shipping option that will otherwise be hidden from customers whose address is outside of these zones.

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A great 3PL choice for your Shopify store

ECommerce businesses that want to be competitive must find the right balance of affordability and speed for their deliveries. Fortunately, it’s never been easier for Shopify merchants to meet consumer expectations for two-day shipping.

If you outsource fulfillment, be sure to use an integrated solution that lets you fulfill orders from strategic locations and helps you improve the customer experience.

If you’re looking for a fulfillment provider that seamlessly syncs with your Shopify store, check out ShipBob.

With a network of fulfillment centers in the largest cities across the United States and the latest in 3PL technology, you can have affordable two-day shipping up and running on your store in no time.

Topics: Partner Post

Guest Post: Kristina Lopienski

Written by Guest Post: Kristina Lopienski

Kristina Lopienski is the Content Marketing Manager at ShipBob, a technology company that helps e-commerce merchants fulfill orders, using integrated software and a network of fulfillment centers in major US cities. Kristina covers various topics around online shopping and writes articles, case studies, and white papers to help e-commerce merchants grow their business.

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