As your subscription box business grows, so do the benefits of finding the right fulfillment partner. A third-party logistics (3PL) provider is a company that specializes in warehousing, packing, and shipping, but the right partner can do far more than house and ship your boxes. From custom printing to inventory management, the ideal partner can streamline your entire supply chain, delivering big — and sometimes unexpected — efficiencies. Consider these potential savings when deciding whether to keep fulfillment in-house or search for a partner.
Even if you go with the most basic of 3PL providers, the move will likely end up saving you plenty of time. You and your team no longer have to spend your days buying packing materials, printing shipping labels, styling boxes, or managing returns — those day-to-day operations become the responsibility of the 3PL provider. Whether you’re aggregating products from outside vendors or separating bulk shipments, your partner takes care of carefully kitting your boxes so that you can focus on growing your business.
How much of your energy currently goes to sorting out shipping errors or tracking down missing packages? A fulfillment partner will have solid relationships with all the major distributors and established processes for ensuring smooth shipments, which will not only save you more time but can really be the deciding factor when it comes to delivering a positive end-to-end customer experience. Some amount of customer service recovery is required in every business, but the best way to increase overall shipping satisfaction is not to fix a problem promptly when it arises — it’s to make sure each box arrives at its destination on time to begin with.
As you grow, you might think it makes sense to take on additional space, but the risk of expanding your square footage is that virtually all subscription box companies go through seasonal cycles. There will be times when you need more warehouse space — around the holidays, for example — and times when you need less. Why pay for space you don’t need? A good partner will provide flexibility during peak demand periods.
With the subscription box industry experiencing explosive growth and change, it is essential that your box can stand out from the crowd. Eye-catching designs and customized packaging are key when it comes to giving your customers that extra excitement when their box arrives. Plus, a specially styled box offers you consistency in branding.
Make your box even more unique, work with a partner who offers value-added services like variable data printing to personalize those print pieces for each individual customer — 28 percent of subscription box customers say personalization is the most important reason they continue to subscribe.
Warehouse managers, customer service employees, shipping specialists: the number of people it takes to run a successful subscription box operation skyrockets as your business grows. And with additional employees comes concomitant paperwork, scheduling, and the need for even more space.
An experienced, professional fulfillment partner will take the extra worry about tax forms and timesheets off your plate. They know the questions to ask when hiring to ensure that the individuals getting your orders out are not only highly qualified but care about representing your brand.
All of these efficiencies add up fast and have an exponential impact on your available resources as you grow. Bottom line: finding the right fulfillment partner early on allows you to devote more of your time, energy, and money to scaling your business model and finding new ways to delight your customers. The right partner can also extend your revenue stream through an e-commerce store and global expansion.