Any small business owner who sells products and has bootstrapped their business probably started out shipping their products themselves. If you’ve done this you know that means buying shipping products like boxes and envelopes, packing items yourself, driving to the post office, and then standing in a long line to ship them. You also have to fill out paperwork for customs if you’re shipping to other countries, and sometimes other paperwork is involved. A fulfillment company can do all that for you and more.
Another thing a bootstrapping entrepreneur with a product knows about is warehousing inventory. Ask anyone who’s done it and you’ll hear stories about boxes being stacking in living rooms, offices, basements, and closets. I can tell you from experience that it takes up a lot of space. There was one room that I couldn’t even walk in for months. This is one of the things product entrepreneurs complain about, even ones with lots of space in the basement.
But at some point your time will be worth more and it will make sense to start using a fulfillment company to do your shipping and warehousing. If you find the right fulfillment company it will actually reduce your warehousing and processing costs and free up your time to do other things, like marketing and sales. They understand shipping and can use the best, most efficient ways to ship. They also get discounts from shipping companies because they ship in large volume. This is less expensive than having to get your employees to do the shipping for you.
A good fulfillment company will provide you with references and won’t have any hidden charges when they give you a quote. Give them as many details as you can about your shipping habits and how you expect your business to grow. They should be able to grow with your company and be flexible. They will be able to make suggestions about the best ways to ship and expand your business. It’s a lot like being a partner with your business, so you want to make sure you choose the right one.
Another important thing to think about when deciding on a fulfillment company is their location. You want to find one that is centrally located to make shipping more efficient. If you will be shipping to Canada it’s important to find a fulfillment company that’s located closer to the border.
No matter who you choose, do your homework before making a decision. But once you are set up with a good fulfillment partner, you’ll see that it will make your life easier in the long run.