You may have started your clothing business with the sensible self-fulfillment option. As you grow, however, this fulfillment process can get overwhelming, taking you away from your business objectives and causing a slip in your standards. If you have an established, successful company with a loyal customer base, you can do it yourself. However, you should consider outsourcing your t-shirt printing and fulfillment if you experience any of the following situations:
Low Seller Ratings or Poor Delivery Experiences
As you grow your business, the customer experience is crucial. Customers expect to get the correct order on time. As we are in the age of Amazon’s same-day delivery, it’s easy for speediness to cause a slip in your delivery standards. Or you may simply be growing your business faster than your current staff and fulfillment process can handle. If you’re experiencing higher order volumes and struggling to stay ahead of the demand, it’s time to look at outsourcing before your standards and reviews are drastically affected.
High Abandonment or Low Conversion Rates
Logistics is where you start to see basket abandonment. Nearly 70% of customers will check your returns page before making a purchase. You will lose the sale if it’s challenging to navigate or a convoluted process. Outsourcing can simplify your returns process and help you avoid returns in the first place.
Another factor that may cause you to lose a conversion is an inability to offer fast and free shipping. If your shipping costs are too high, your customers will turn to your competitor. Partnering with a fulfillment company gives you access to their knowledge and technology, enabling tight turnarounds even with higher volume orders. When you outsource, you enable fast, economical shipping for your client base, leading to fewer abandoned carts and higher conversions.
Your Expenses Are Too High
Your main goal is to make a profit, so growing your business and securing more orders are likely at the top of your list. However, your staffing needs, storage space, shipping, and packaging costs all grow when this happens. You may need to source a warehouse or increase its size to store all your products. A fulfillment partner has larger economies of scale to secure lower prices than you could negotiate on your own with your business size. You will save money on overall costs that you can either pocket as profit or reinvest in your business.
The Fulfillment Process is Taking Too Much Time
You can spend a lot of it keeping track of your orders and returns and preparing and packing parcels. It can take time away from other vital business growth functions such as product sourcing, marketing, establishing your online presence, and differentiating your brand. The perception of your brand may be suffering. By streamlining your fulfillment process with a third-party vendor, you can focus on the other business areas where you excel. You can turn over the day-to-day shipping and inventory concerns for your business to a third party to return to actually managing your business overall.
You Have Seasonal Peaks
While your monthly expenses remain fixed, you may experience seasonal sales highs and lows throughout the year. For example, your business may provide custom shirts for the summer camps in your region. Your peak season is when you are fulfilling all your orders, and the rest of the year is slower. If you require short-term storage, you typically cannot source it inexpensively on an as needed basis.
If you outsource to a drop-ship shirt fulfillment company, they can allow more flexibility for your business. You can choose the fulfillment plan that works for you now, maintain your current business, reduce your overall cost, and start looking to expand. You can upgrade your fulfillment plan easily as your business evolves.
You Are Looking to Expand
Your infrastructure needs to match your growth plans. If you are preparing to expand your business, you must ensure your fulfillment processes are ready. If you want to expand internationally, you are likely looking at different laws, regulations, and much higher shipping costs. There may be penalties and fines if you don’t know what guidelines to follow. Outsourcing to a company familiar with all this reduces stress, time, and potential expenses so you can focus on implementing your expansion plans and securing orders in this new market.
In the end, you can’t do it all. Customers’ expectations are high, and your order fulfillment can become a full-time job. Instead of hiring more staff to oversee it and investing in more storage space, a third party specializing in your fulfillment needs can get the job done for a fraction of the cost. All the benefits can mitigate your initial concerns about taking on a fulfillment partner: improving your customers’ experience, increased flexibility, scaling your business, cost savings, and freeing yourself up to handle your business’ big picture instead of every little fulfillment issue. Don’t wait until your business is suffering. If you have experienced any of these indicators, look into outsourcing immediately.
Robert is the founder of Thrive Screen Printing and enjoys helping businesses learn how to enhance their brand through screen printing.