When should you outsource fulfillment for subscription boxes?
In the eCommerce world, convenience is everything. In fact, convenience is one of the key reasons customers choose to purchase products online and receive at their doorstep. With the hassle and inconvenience of going to an in-person store, placing an order online saves a lot of time and energy. To make things even more convenient for online shoppers, some companies utilize subscription box fulfillment services. These subscription boxes make it easy for consumers to get the exact products they need without ever leaving the comfort of their homes. Subscription box order fulfillment takes the shipping convenience to new levels. Someone really did think out of the box!
Keep reading to learn more about subscription box order fulfillment services, including its definition, how to choose the right 3PL for your subscription box fulfillment, when to outsource fulfillment for subscription boxes, and more!
Subscription box fulfillment relates to products that customers receive on a regular basis without the need to purchase additional, separate orders. They receive these products on a predetermined subscription basis, which may be monthly, weekly, or another schedule altogether. Some common examples of a subscription box include supplements, nutraceuticals, shaving razors, deodorant, and grocery products to name a few.
When you own a subscription box business, you might come to a crossroads where you have to make a tough decision: should I maintain in-house order processing or should I choose a 3PL for subscription box fulfillment? From packing the product to shipping it out to customers, the process can be daunting.
3PL stands for third-party logistics, and includes packing, distribution, warehousing, and order fulfillment services for subscription based companies. Depending on the relationship with the subscription business, a 3PL can handle one or multiple processes for the company. 3PL’s are typically used when businesses have too much work without the means or manpower to carry out orders quickly and efficiently. They also might be used when a company would rather not focus on packing, shipping and fulfillment services, and rather focus on sales, products, or other areas of the business that involves customers.
If you’ve decided that you would like to choose a 3PL for subscription box fulfillment that includes packing and shipping, you may be confused about how to choose the right company. Below you’ll find some things to take into consideration when finding the right 3PL company to meet your specific needs.
Our first tip is to choose a 3PL that is a similar size to your business. For instance, if you own a small startup company with fewer products to offer, you may want to choose a 3PL fulfillment service that is also on the smaller end of the spectrum. This business can typically accommodate on a more personal level, while a larger business may deal with thousands of customers on a daily basis. While these sources can still be effective, a smaller business might have a certain level of trust and a higher level of customer service or support process, which is especially important when just starting out. Larger 3PL’s work with tons of customers, so it may be hard for them to work with you one-on-one to get the ball rolling. One-on-one support when you’re new to the process can be extremely helpful, and you’re more likely to find this feature with a small 3PL rather than a large one. Once your subscription box company has soared to new heights, then you may want to choose a larger 3PL with additional features.
When you’re shopping around for a 3PL, you need to look at more than just the price of their services before outsourcing. While you may be very interested in an affordable provider, you should understand their key features, shipping capabilities, and level of customer support process before choosing them. 3PL’s have a lot to do with your level of customer service, so it’s vital that you choose one you can count on when you need them most. Discount providers can end up shipping orders late, shipping the wrong orders, or many other issues, so it's extremely important to take the time to choose a company that you can really trust with your shipping needs. To help find the third party logistics provider best suited for your needs, you should consider these key qualities:
Before entering into a business relationship with a 3PL provider, you should ensure all of the qualities above meet your expectations. This business relationship is key for many aspects of your company, so before you get started, you must ensure that this provider is one you can depend on. Another tip is to ask other subscription box services who they chose as their 3PL, and also try to find testimonials and reviews if available.
Another factor to consider when shopping around for a 3PL is that you want to choose a business that is focused on what you need. You want a provider who will take the time to review your unique needs and inventory as a subscription box service and understand what matters to you most. Given the higher level of care and customer service that you want to provide for your customers, you must work with a business who has those same qualities in mind when working with you. It's vital that your business and your 3PL are always on the same page in order to have a smooth and efficient relationship that is focused on accuracy, speed, and reliability. Communication is another quality that is very important. If the communication is off with your 3PL, then that could be a red flag that could lead to some serious problems down the road. That being said, before you get the relationship started, try your best to ensure that the 3PL has top-notch communication that can make both of your businesses thrive.
Deciding if you would like to continue to manage inventory and fulfill orders in-house or outsource to a third-party can be a very steep mountain to climb. While you may enjoy in-house operations management, maybe outsourcing is a more efficient option. This is especially true if you’re new to the whole world of fulfillment service and inventory management. A 3PL may be able to help you successfully manage orders as your business grows and orders increase. However, these outsourcing companies do cost money, so it's best to understand your budget and understand the features you need before choosing an outsourcing business. This can help you minimize the costs. Keep reading to learn when it might be the right time to choose an outsourcing 3PL for your fulfillment service.
Whether you work for an ecommerce fulfillment service business that is just starting out or you’ve been at it for years, then you may decide to handle all of your orders in-house. This can be a beneficial, cost effective method. Some ecommerce businesses even opt to hire a team to handle these orders with ease. But on many occasions, these companies bite off a little more than they can chew. While they may start out small and have the ability to handle all orders in-house, maybe things are growing rapidly. While this is a pretty good problem to have, it can be detrimental to the success of your business. While you still want the perks of processing in-house, it may make more sense to outsource your orders to a 3PL if you don’t mind slightly extra costs. That way, you can still provide the same high-quality service while fulfilling a larger number of orders. If your orders keep piling up and you’re struggling to stay afloat, then a great option is to outsource ecommerce order fulfillment.
Well, another scenario you should think about is if you sell customized orders. If your consumers order customized items from your business every month, then it could be a little more difficult for a 3PL to fit into the process. These providers typically provide inventory management and fulfillment service for simple, bulk orders that are easier to fulfill. For orders that are specific to the consumer and aren’t the same from customer to customer, then you may run into more issues or higher costs if you are outsourcing to a 3PL company. Another example that may be difficult for a 3PL company is if your business ships custom food orders such as fresh fruit or herbs. Given that these items are perishable and need to be delivered on time, it may be difficult for 3PL’s to manage this kind of inventory and ensure that the orders arrive in a timely fashion. Given that these orders may change month-to-month for every customer, there are more hoops to jump through and many things that can go wrong time and again while using a 3PL. That being said, you may consider handling these types of orders in-house to save time and money.
While there are tons of subscription box businesses out there, some of them offer very specialized orders. In fact, these businesses may even strategically package orders a specific way for different points in the customer’s life cycle. For example, a subscription box company may sell yoga mats, fitness goods, or activewear. Part of their fulfillment might as well be to ship different orders with different items each and every month. For example, a fitness box may contain active apparel and protein powder one month, then sweatbands, running shoes, and water bottles the next. In this instance, Aero Fulfillment will work with you to ensure that your complex order schedule is met. And we’re always on time.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to outsource your subscription box fulfillment orders, then you have to sort through many providers to find the one that’s best suited for your needs. But if you’re looking for a company with over 30 years of experience in the field, well, then look no further than Aero Fulfillment. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, or a mix, Aero is here to offer a high level of care at every turn. In addition to our incredible ecommerce fulfillment service, we also provide impeccable IT solutions and fast integration services. This allows us to solve the specialized needs of all of our amazing clients.
Feel free to take a look at the pillars of our organization that we live by each and every day:
No matter what subscription box service that you provide, we believe that these pillars are vital to have a smooth and efficient shipping process from start to finish.
When it comes to our service offerings, no one does it better than us. From our exceptional communication to our accurate and efficient shipping and inventory handling, hundreds of businesses choose us time and again for their outsourcing order fulfillment needs. Take a look at our service offerings below:
As B2B companies grow, they strive to work with subscription box fulfillment companies that can keep up with the demand. From customized assembly to nationwide shipping, Aero is here to make your life easier through fast, effective, and accurate fulfillment solutions. Take a look at the many features we offer to our B2B clients:
Aero Fulfillment offers a wide range of 3pl solutions for the specific needs of your business. As the #1 eCommerce fulfillment service provider, we work to turn your one-time customers into life-long purchasers. Take a look at some of the well known benefits of choosing us for
Solving the unique needs of your customers can be tricky, but we can ensure your items arrive quickly, at the right location, and with the right goods and packing. Being involved in the industry for over 30 years, we know what it takes to provide top-notch care at every turn. We work with many different types of subscription box companies, so we have vast experience in packing products that you don't see with many fulfillment service providers. From our large team of experienced fulfillment specialists to the advanced technology that we use for packing boxes, we can handle all of your order fulfillment and inventory management requirements with ease.
Whether you’re looking for subscription box fulfillment services for your B2B, B2C, or cross-channel business, we’re here for you! Give Aero Fulfillment a call today to get started!