3 Fulfillment Strategies To Manage Rapid Growth In A Small Business
Posted On March 11, 2015 by
Sometimes a business grows so quickly, that owners don’t even recognize they are no longer a small business. Reaching this stage means that in order to continue growth and manage your business well, you need to adapt through this transition. Research suggests that only 1/10th of 1 percent of companies will ever reach $250 million in annual revenue. An even more microscopic group, just .036 percent, will reach $1billion in annual sales. In other words, most businesses start small and stay there according to an article in INC. Magazine. This is a grim outlook but there are companies that have figured out a formula to overcoming the challenges to become large thriving businesses.
Multi-channel fulfillment can be defined as optimizing the supply chain’s capabilities to simultaneously receive and process orders from multiple ordering channels and fulfill them from the source that provides the highest level of consumer satisfaction and lowest fulfillment cost to the retailer. This model for fulfillment is both customer and cost driven and therefore, the new de facto standard for the retail supply chain according to Joe Vernon, Manager of North America Supply Chain Technologies, Capgemini.
Essentially, it is a marketing strategy that offers your customers a variety of ways to purchase products. This could be orders made through a brick and mortar store, website, cell phone, catalog, infomercial, social networks or online third party sellers. The data from an integrated strategy can help you identify customer preferences from multiple sources combined in one database and make it easier to build long term loyalty. A multi-channel strategy gives you the ability to expand your business on a national or global scale without investing in further physical stores. Building an eCommerce site can help you to operate in multiple currencies with localized content targeted to niche buyers worldwide, around the clock. On Quora, Gam Dias writes about “Innovating in Omnichannel Retail” and multi-channel retailers making advances like; Wal-Mart, Sears, Bema, Toys R Us, Best Buy and Macy’s.
Rethink Your Packaging
If you’re used to selling one packaged product at a time to customers, look at ways that you can package several units of the same product together to ship at a reduced rate to customers. Common examples can be found with many consumer goods companies that sell disposable items ranging from soaps, bath salts, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and battery packs just to name a few.
Another option is to package related items together like we often see done in publishing, for example with the Divergent Series sold as a box set or season episodes of House of Cards on DVD sold at Amazon. Multi-packaging systems lead to several benefits including reduced overall shipping volume and weight, waste reduction in packaging and reduced energy consumption making it easier for companies to uphold higher environmental standards.
Leverage Outside Resources
Transforming a small business to large scale can be profitable if you have the right facilities already in place but creating and managing a fully working fulfillment service is the last thing on an owner’s mind and impractical without a large infusion of capital in most cases. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other solutions to help you get there though. Third party fulfillment companies were historically known to work with larger companies; however, the eCommerce boom has made these services more accessible for businesses of all sizes. Many 3PL’s have adapted more flexible systems to cater to all types of businesses and have the ability to expand their services more quickly due to the scale on which they operate. Finding a fulfillment partner that can step in and provide a considerable sized warehouse with state of the art systems can help you to re-focus on your core business with peace of mind that your customers are still being catered to by professionals who understand the distribution supply chain and what it means to your business and customers. The benefits outweigh the costs of having a fully trained staff on hand on a round the clock basis to monitor and manage supplies a shipments with fully automated systems.
Implementing a solid fulfillment strategy can be a major factor in becoming one of the few small business breakout success stories. Multi-channel marketing, a good packaging strategy and the right strategic partners can be instrumental in planning for this crucial phase of your business.