The Instagram logo

Order fulfilment

There are several important tools for your online shopping site, among them smaller scale order fulfilment services.

Towns in England and Wales have lost eight per cent of their shops on average since 2013. In 2017, for every 11 stores that opened in the UK, there were 16 that had to close their doors permanently. Worrying reading for budding entrepreneurs.

One of the main reasons for closures outweighing new openings is the continued emergence of online shopping, with many customers preferring online behemoths like Amazon and ASOS rather than supporting local brands.

Opening a new physical store has always been an incredibly difficult thing to do, but when you consider that those same stores now also have to simultaneously sell their wares online, many have found this process a step too far.

But this doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle as there are countless tools available to make selling online much easier.

The online commerce platform of Shopify is one of the first names that retailers learn about when moving their products online, and rightly so. It’s an essential tool that simplifies the whole process of getting your goods around the world. But there are numerous other tools that are perhaps lesser known, though equally valuable, for burgeoning online stores.

To name a few: Quickbooks is a simple analytics tool that manages your revenue, profit and expenses, Hootsuite can help get a grip on your social media, and MailChimp is perfect for any newsletters you need to send out.

But many of these tools are only useful when you are already fulfilling orders, something which is actually just as hard to do. So, what can stores do about order fulfilment before it ends up as a huge problem?

Many order fulfilment services are only feasible for a company taking hundreds of orders, companies that can afford to keep an excess of stock in an external partner’s warehouse and let them handle the orders on their behalf. But this just isn’t a feasible option for stores of a smaller size.

This build-up of problems is often a major contributor to a new retail venture failing. And this, in turn, can lead small and medium businesses to do their own order fulfilment in an attempt to save money.

Pier Ronzi, CEO of Weengs, a smart logistics company that partners with e-commerce businesses, says that even though this is a rational thing to do for most small businesses, it can end up costing them up to four hours every day.

“It’s not just the actual packing, although that is considerable, it’s also going out and buying the packing materials, the online research of which carrier to choose, the label printing, and of course going to the post office or chasing couriers. It all adds up to a considerable amount of time, which is obviously invaluable for emerging brands.”

In a bid to correct this issue for small businesses, Weengs set out to offer a unique type of third-party order fulfilment (London only, for now). One which doesn’t require your business to send stock to them in bulk, but instead, a service where their drivers come to you to collect, pack and ship. With no monthly fee involved.

From there, the company takes it to their King’s Cross warehouse for delivery using an algorithm to pick the best carrier for the job.

“We knew there was value in the service we’re offering, not only in saving people money, but actually giving them back the time to grow their business, not mess around with cardboard and bubble wrap,” says Ronzi.

Outsourcing is a key way of maximising a business’s potential. By bringing in experts to take care of their chosen field, it not only guarantees a more professional approach but it also frees up retail business owners to focus on their own chosen expertise.

Whether that means time to run the shop, design the products, or something else entirely, using helpful ecommerce tools allows you to do exactly that – offering a much better chance of not being one of the next batch of stores to close in the UK.

Read more articles from our latest issue...