As a new startup, you have a lot of things to manage and your time is valuable. You can’t be everywhere at once, so choosing the right tools is important. There are many tools available to help you with every aspect of your business, and it can be hard to decide what tool is best for both the present and future of your enterprise.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to estimate order fulfillment costs and manage shipping services on their own and end up wasting valuable time negotiating rates with each carrier individually. Some carriers will require upfront deposits or impose minimums, and you will need to renegotiate these rates on a regular basis. Who has time for all of that?
If you want to increase your capacity and build the logistical capabilities needed to scale your business, you need to find the right fulfillment solution. The right solution will help you to streamline the process of order fulfillment, monitor shipping, and delivery, accept payments and provide customers with discounted shipping options – all in one place.
Do you have a brick and mortar storefront? A shipping fulfillment service can help you grow sales by extending your reach to customers around the world. Are you an eCommerce business? Choosing the right shipping service is critical for the success and growth of your business. You need to find a product with all the features and services you need to build capacity.
Let’s take a look at three of the best choices for small businesses and startups.
Easyship offers fulfillment solutions for every size of business. Whether you need to ship one package a month or thousands, their new subscription model has plans that are right for your business. Easyship has been able to leverage the purchasing power of their customers to negotiate steep discounts from carriers around the world – some as high as 70%.
Best of all, Easyship’s Rates at Checkout feature is a customer favorite that gives accurate shipping rates from a number of carriers, allowing the customer to choose the shipping service that will get their package to them quickly, at the best possible price.
Their dashboard allows for deep reporting and analytics, helping you to understand the trends driving your business, and to provide accurate forecasting to help you manage inventory. Tired of the endless customs forms and red tape involved in shipping globally? Easyship takes all the guesswork out of international shipping, giving you the confidence needed to take your business to the next level.
And the best feature of all for your startup business is that Easyship is free for up to 100 shipments. There are no set up, subscription or cancellation fees, all you’re required to pay is for shipping and any relevant customs or duties charges.
With live online training and 24/7 online customer support, Shipmonk can get your business set up to ship around the world in no time. Their web-based platform lets you manage your inventory from the warehouse to your customer’s door. Their forecasting tools help prevent backorders and missed sales due to overstocks.
You can integrate Shipmonk with many online platforms such as Squarespace, Celery, and Stripe using their custom APIs, providing a seamless customer experience. Their multichannel distribution network and automatic order fulfillment allow you to keep your focus where it needs to be – on building your business.
New customers can start using the service for just $1 a month. Offering shipping from common carriers, to ocean and freight options, their service offers ease of use with a simple interface. An excellent choice for any small business, Shipmonk is particularly well suited for subscription box services. Some customers have even praised the customer service team for providing helpful advice for growing your business and leveraging all of Shipmonk’s tools.
With fulfillment centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Shipbob is able to provide fast shipping to customers from coast to coast, and around the world. You can choose to have your inventory held at one of those centers or all, and their inventory management software will ensure that you know what you have, and where you have it, at all times.
Shipbob offers easy integrations with most common eCommerce platforms, creating a seamless experience for you and your customers. Their proprietary software keeps you in the loop throughout the order fulfillment process. You can track shipment and delivery from Shipbob’s fulfillment centers to your customer’s door.
What’s more, Shipbob can deliver your products in the custom, branded packaging of your choice, or you can choose to use their standard brown box packaging. Either way, you can rest assured that your product will be delivered quickly and efficiently to your customers, ensuring a positive customer experience.
What should you do now?
If you have just started your business, you have a lot of important decisions to make. Order fulfillment services offer a wide range of products and it can be hard to know which service to choose. By carefully reviewing the features of each service, you will be able to find the product that best meets the needs of your company.
When reviewing these options, ask yourself these questions:
- Are there training and onboarding services to help me get started? Work with a shipper that is willing to work with you to make sure that you are able to leverage all of their tools.
- Will I have access to 24/7 customer service if something goes wrong? You need to be able to respond to shipping, delivery and inventory problems in real-time. It is important to know that help is there when you need it.
- Does it integrate seamlessly with my eCommerce platform? Most fulfillment services offer API integrations to connect to your online store or ordering system.
- What will customers think of this product? Is the user experience easy to navigate? While these services are intended to make order fulfillment easier for you to manage, you can’t sacrifice the user experience. Walk through the order process as a customer so you can spot problems before they impact customers.
- What am I shipping, and to where? Some products may not offer specialized shipping options for fragile or refrigerated items. Make sure it can do what you need it to do.
- Do I want to use custom packaging? Not all companies offer this. Check with the company to talk about its packaging requirements.
Research each product and read customer reviews as part of your selection process. Remember, you want to choose a service that will grow with you, rather than one you have to replace as you expand your market share.