You’ve always imagined that your business would grow large enough to really support itself—and now it has.

The problem that you’re currently struggling with is how to know when it’s time to upgrade some of your processes and move aspects of your company out of the basement. When it comes to leaping into fulfillment services, it can be pretty easy to tell that it’s time to turn the work over to the pros.

Freeing Up Your Time with a Fulfillment Service

Fulfillment is about the last thing you need to be doing right now, but if you don’t send the orders out new ones won’t come in. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can give that job to a company that does nothing else so you can free yourself up for jobs that will help your business grow even further.

Here are four ways to know you’re ready for a 3PL partnership:

  • You spend too much time pick, pack and shipping. It’s surprising how much time you can spend just sorting orders and packing them into boxes, especially if your system lacks automation. When you’re spending more time pick, pack and shipping than running your business, you need to get some help right away.
  • You’re looking for ways to lower shipping costs. Unlike fulfillment houses, you’re not doing enough volume to be able to negotiate deals with big shippers like UPS and FedEx. Instead, you’re at their mercy when you drop off your packages.A good 3PL will have relationships in place with shippers that can help lower your shipping rate, plus they buy shipping supplies in massive bulk. Centralized warehouses can also cut costs by reducing the miles your products travel!
  • You have lots of product to store and nowhere to put it. When you’re selling handmade goods or just a few items here and there, it’s not a big deal to find a spot to store merchandise until it sells. But as you grow, all those products need somewhere to go.Your home or office space aren’t good substitutes for a warehouse, but your 3PL has a lot of space just for you. Not only will they store your items, they’ll be carefully tracked and monitored so nothing gets lost.
  • You’re not sure what to do with returns. As a retailer, you’re eventually going to have to deal with the reality of returns and a reverse logistics plan. What you ultimately do with them, however, can make a huge difference to your profit margin.Many 3PLs also offer reverse logistics services that can check your returned products for damage, repackage or refurbish them for resale or recycle what can’t be sold. The faster this process happens, the better, since many products have a seasonal clock or expiration date to chase.

There’s no shame in admitting that you can’t do it all on your own. After all, that’s what fulfillment services are for! If you’re ready to step up your order distribution game, give your favorite 3PL a call to learn more about what services would be best for your company.