Ecommerce businesses offer great options for starting an online business. They’re easy to start, they require lower overhead costs than traditional brick-and-mortar retail businesses and they mostly run themselves ... sort of.
If you want to be a successful ecommerce entrepreneur, you will need to have a solid business plan, a marketing strategy, a retail niche, good relationships with suppliers and vendors and a knack for pricing your products at healthy profit margins.
But one of the other major aspects of running an ecommerce business is understanding your shipping options. You don’t have to go it alone when dealing with your inventory and shipping; today there are various ecommerce fulfillment services that can help you ship products to your customers.
Even smaller ecommerce businesses can find the right level of support; you don’t have to fill your garage with inventory or worry about packing and shipping boxes all by yourself. With the right fulfillment services, you can focus on the other aspects of running your ecommerce business while your customers enjoy quicker, convenient shipping options.
Here are a few ecommerce fulfillment solutions that can help your business grow.
4 Shipping Options for Your Ecommerce Business
Fulfillment by Amazon
Amazon, of course, is a gargantuan presence in the world of ecommerce. Many small ecommerce businesses use Amazon to sell products, but did you know that Amazon also offers fulfillment services?
Fulfillment By Amazon lets small ecommerce businesses store their inventory at Amazon warehouses and makes their products eligible for free two-day shipping and other benefits.
You only get charged for storage space and for the orders that Amazon fulfills on behalf of your business, with no extra charge for Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping. This “pay as you go” option lets you enjoy fast, effective fulfillment services without unexpected costs.
Don’t assume that Amazon is your only option though. Some business owners might not want to hand over too much control of their ecommerce operations to Amazon, especially if they already see Amazon as a competitor.
Founded in 2001, eFulfillment Service works with approximately 700 small to midsize ecommerce retailers, 40% of which are based outside the U.S.
This fulfillment service can be a good option for small businesses because it does not have a minimum order requirement and does not charge extra fees for smaller order amounts. eFulfillment Service does not charge setup fees or require long-term contracts, and it offers friendly terms for startups. Depending on the size and scope of your business, this might be an affordable and effective option.
Fulfillify is a division of Complemar, a larger parent company, which gives it access to a wide network of warehouses and resources while still being able to offer affordable rates for smaller business customers.
Fulfillify’s ideal target customer ships approximately 1,000 orders per month, although it can also be a good fit for businesses that ship a few hundred orders each month. Ecommerce companies that need fulfillment for a larger volume of orders (larger than 1,000 per month) are recommended to use Complemar, as it can handle larger quantities of shipments.
ShipFusion is another fulfillment service that tends to work with e-commerce companies that sell small and lightweight products, such as beauty products, jewelry, health products, sporting goods, and small technology products.
ShipFusion requires a minimum of 500 shipments per month, so if your e-commerce business is still in startup mode and you are not yet selling that many orders, you might want to choose a different option.
The company believes that its software is uniquely well suited for the needs of small businesses, especially if they are working with a third-party fulfillment service for the first time. ShipFusion requires an annual contract, but it offers a 30-day termination clause.
How to Evaluate Fulfillment Services
These are just a few of the fulfillment services on the market that can help small e-commerce businesses. There is no easy answer for which fulfillment provider is right for your business. You will want to figure out a few elements of the service offerings to make your decision, such as:
Pricing: Most fulfillment company pricing depends on a number of complex factors, such as shipping volume, pick-and-pack services, inventory, and more. You will need to contact the fulfillment services directly to get a detailed price quote for your needs.
Minimum shipping order: Depending on the size of your current shipment volume, some fulfillment services might not be the right fit. If you are only shipping a few hundred packages per month, a fulfillment service with a 1,000 minimum order requirement might not be right for you.
Software: Different fulfillment services offer their own unique software options to integrate with your business. You will want to see which software platforms have the best user interface design and easy integration with whatever online sales platforms you use.
Lisa Crocco is a marketer for an international food manufacturer by day and a freelance writer/marketer for startups and small businesses by night. She's written for outlets like USA Today College, Career Contessa, CloudPeeps and Fairygodboss.