Whether you’re selling on two, three, four or six marketplaces, how you manage order fulfilment can produce both operational and financial efficiencies.
In the complex and sometimes overwhelming world of online retail, selling products on your own ‘.com.au’ store is pretty straight forward. Fulfilling those orders, even with varying sales volumes, is also not that complicated. One simple cart integration with your fulfilment provider, pay a fee per item, and away you go.
However, order fulfilment gets slightly more complicated when you’re selling products on multiple channels. For example if you’re selling on both eBay and Amazon, do you split your products into separate fulfilment solutions?
Amazon has been in Australia for less than a year and offers Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) to both merchants on their marketplace and for a slightly higher cost, third party retailers as well.
And if you are among the more than 40,000 merchants selling on eBay Australia, you’re generally left to your own devices to sort out warehousing and shipping. You can of course use your own third party logistics provider around the country and beyond, unless that’s FBA.
Earlier this year, eBay Australia banned their merchants from fulfilling orders through FBA, and is the only ban of its kind for eBay sellers around the world.
Fortunately, eBay merchants were not left high and dry, as recently eBay announced a partnership with Australia Post startup, Fuflilio; a fulfilment provider able to service any store or marketplace, and with an extra special rate for eBay sellers.
So, what’s a multichannel, cross-marketplace retailer supposed to do? Your best bet is to choose a provider that can pick, pack and deliver ALL your orders, regardless of the channel they were sold from.
As with every business decision, choosing the right fulfilment partner means weighing up the pros and cons. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when evaluating providers:
- What is the total cost?
Not all fees were created equal, some 3PLs charge for services that others offer for free.
- Can you use your own packaging?
Not all fulfilment houses allow you to use your own packaging. If building a brand or providing a consistent messaging experience is important to you, find out what is possible.
- What delivery options are on offer?
Many marketplaces require sellers to adhere to strict delivery times for products sold on their websites. Make sure you find a partner that can meet the speed expected by your customers.
Of course, you could have multiple fulfilment partners for your different channels, but it’s not recommended. You’ll get a better rate from your single provider the more volume you pump through it, and one point of contact for any questions or problems that may arise.
Dealing with the operational side of your business isn’t always the easiest, but has a significant impact on your ability to scale profitably. Speaking to other merchants and taking warehouse tours will help you make the right decision and keep you on the path to ecommerce success.