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Fulfillment - How do you do it?
LongView




msg:630735
 7:42 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hello all -

We do about 450 orders a month (average order $75 average commission about $30), and have been using a third party fulfillment service. We simply transmit all orders electronically to them and they process and ship. We do all customer service in house which equates to about 2 emails a day, and they have an online inventory system and order lookup system for us to get all the info we need.

However our fulfillment costs on 450 orders is about $2,900 a month and we pay roughly $6 per order for them to process.

From what I've read here most of you are doing in-house fulfillment either by hiring someone or doing it yourself.

First off do any of you have any suggestions on the best and cheapest fulfillment company out there? I am looking for something cheaper.

Secondly, at less than $6 per order, how would you possibly find anyone who is efficient enough to just do this as a part time job for you? It seems like your quality would suffer something fierce with that scenario, whereas a fulfillment service has a commitment to accuracy, and they have streamlined processes, etc.

Thanks for any insight.

 

lorax




msg:630736
 10:47 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Greetings LongView,
Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

At 450/month your ave is 15/day. That's not too hard for one or two high-school kids to pack and ship if you have the facility and packing materials. Or not. The point is your volume is not particularly high.

If you items are unusual in some way then maybe it's not that easy. For instance, if they're overly heavy, bulky, hazardous, or fragile. But nearly anyone can be taught to pack a box the way you want. ;)

Most of my clients use in-house fullfillment or they have pallets of stock at a fullfillment house (UPS for example). Perhaps some of the crew here in Ecomm that actually handle products themselves will have more to offer you in the way of cheaper fullfillment services.

LongView




msg:630737
 6:01 am on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply. I should amend my numbers. I do about 400 orders a month *MAX* and pay $2,900 for fulfillment for that much.

My big concern isn't finding someone whose able to pack a box, but moreso the accuracy issue, someone who knows the shipping options, knows how to fill out all the forms, knows what to declare and not declare, what how to fill in all the international and customs forms if necessary, etc.

Also Im a bit "phobic" about hiring someone anyways. The whole interaction and dealing with the stress and the personalities of a high schooler or college student ...

Where would you suggest finding a reputable person for this type of work locally to do inhouse stuff?

kris_winter




msg:630738
 8:58 am on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I process the same volumne and do it myself. And if i could save $2900 a month i would do it again. I have quite an easy product to package and it usually takes me about 2 hours to get them done. The ins and outs of the various couriors can seem a little of putting at first but within a week of doing it youll have it licked. Most couriors will give you all the info you need when you start up. Just get some recommendations and find couiors that suit you.

incrediBILL




msg:630739
 9:08 am on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, I must agree with Kris, most of my customers do it themselves as well and on your volume of orders, $2900 is a huge amount of profit to toss every month.

Accuracy is no big deal. Hire some part-time minimum wager, hand him/her a packing slip and YOU be the quality control. Basically, they pack the box but leave it open, you verify the contents of each box before it's sealed.

Invest the $2900 in a good accounting program with inventory control and a link to FedEx or UPS shipping, Mail Order Manager might be what you need.

sun818




msg:630740
 9:27 am on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

I operate out of my home and live with other people. Hiring someone to come to the house is out the question. I get creeped out when strangers ring my doorbell thinking they can walkin and buy something on the spot.

Even with a professional fulfillment house, you'll encounter order issues. You never really know how often it will occur until you start using the service. My cost for fulfillment currently averages $2.65 per order for about 100 orders per month.

LongView




msg:630741
 4:04 am on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. I wanted to respond to the idea of doing it yourself.

Trust me it crossed my mind!

The problem is what do you do when you have to go out of town? Or if you're sick? Or if you just plain wake up late one day and got an overnight order that you missed getting out? What do you do when you have to go see the family for a week halfway across the country for Christmas or an unexpected event?

sun818




msg:630742
 7:21 am on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone that sells product online, have asked those questoins too. For example, on your question of vacation: [webmasterworld.com...]

For other discussions, my suggestion to you is for you to go to Google and type in the following:

site:webmasterworld.com inurl:/forum22 keyword

This way, you can limit your searches to the eCommerce forum. Good luck.

nonstop




msg:630743
 8:47 am on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

check out.. e fulfillment service

philbish




msg:630744
 7:03 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

The problem is what do you do when you have to go out of town? Or if you're sick? Or if you just plain wake up late one day and got an overnight order that you missed getting out? What do you do when you have to go see the family for a week halfway across the country for Christmas or an unexpected event?

Do it yourself for now. When you have to go on vacation, close the "shipping center". When you do enough sales to justify help, or a small warehouse and help, you won't have to worry about leaving it for a week.

chodges84




msg:630745
 9:26 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

thanks for bringing up that thread sun, made interesting reading.

I left my site alone for five weeks last september when I went to America (i'm uk based) for a month. I trained up my Mum and sister, and they did an excellent job. At first I was still checking e-mails and 'keeping a watchful eye' but I was soon able to relax and enjoy the US of A without having to worry.I know now I can rely on them if I ever fall ill etc.

With regards to fulfilment, I do everything myself, print orders, pack and post, and I run my site from my bedroom, and Maintain a full time job as well, although I am looking at big expansion options.

LongView




msg:630746
 2:13 am on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can't just close the shipping center for a week if I go on vacation. Im generating roughly $1,500 a day in sales (my average order is $100 and my average commission is 50%). I would lose not only customers, but over $10,000 in gross revenue by closing for a week. You might think doing this much business would justify a $2,900 fulfillment service, but along with higher sales comes higher fee's across the board, so expenses are extremely high in other areas.

Doing this myself isn't an option. I am looking for people who can suggest fulfillment companies that provide a good service and good rates. Thank you to the one person who actually did this in this thread just today. Can anyone else recommend a fulfillment company?

bsnrjones




msg:630747
 2:58 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

You might check out ifulfill. Their rates appear to be a bit less than what you are paying, and they are really set-up to scale with the size of your operation.

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