8 Key Factors for Successful Warehousing and Fulfilment
For the holiday shopping season and beyond
By Stuart Conroy, Founder and CEO of Activ8
Let’s face it – evaluating your warehousing and fulfilment strategy is probably not what gets you out of bed in the morning. At the best of times, managing your business’s logistics can be tedious. At the worst of times, it can be an outright nightmare.
When I started selling on Amazon and eBay, I approached warehousing and fulfilment the way many Founder/CEOs do: by patchworking a solution together and figuring it out as I went along. Now, with 20 years of experience under my belt, I feel I can offer some advice to other business owners so they don’t run into the same issues I faced over the years. Especially with the holiday season fast approaching, a solid warehousing and fulfilment strategy can make all the difference for your business.
- Founders/CEOs need to take a step back from the day-to-day operations of their business
Particularly for start-ups and scale-ups, founders and CEOs tend to find themselves bogged down in the minutia of their business operations. Ideally, a CEO should know that their operations are being managed competently, but should spend the bulk of their time and resources focusing on the bigger, more strategic considerations of the business. The number of business owners I meet who are packing, shipping and tracking their own products day in and day out never ceases to amaze me!
- Operations can’t be siloed from sales and marketing
When businesses are driven by sales goals – as they so often are – operations and logistics often take a backseat to sales and marketing. However, taking a more holistic approach and prioritising synergy will streamline your business, ultimately allowing you to exceed your sales goals without jeopardising customer satisfaction.
Warehousing has always played a secondary role to sales and marketing, but particularly in the age of Covid, operations and stock management have come into the spotlight. No one knows when the next industry-changing event will happen, so it’s crucial to have a solid operations plan in place.
- Transparency is key – for sellers and customers alike
When it comes to online selling, the biggest component to customer service is almost always effective fulfilment and tracking. As such, it’s increasingly important to forecast sales, predict potential changes in buyer behaviour and mitigate risk. Having a solid stock management system and future-proofing policy to manage cash flow and stock is necessary to keep your customers happy.
- Integrate technology when you can
Transparency is great, but you may be thinking to yourself, “Easier said than done.” While it may not be the simplest (or cheapest) resource to set up for your business, robust stock management, analytics and tracking technology can offer you unprecedented levels of business intelligence that will save you time and money in the future. At Activ8, we’re proud to partner with Linnworks and Volo, which give us a 360-degree, multichannel view across marketplaces (like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, etc.) and distribution channels around the world.
- When using Amazon in your seller strategy, remember that FBA, FBM and SFP require different approaches
Speaking of technology…
Fulfilled by Amazon, Fulfilled by Merchant and Seller Fulfilled Prime each have their distinct pros and cons, but they all require the right technology and people to manage it. When evaluating your seller and fulfilment strategies, keep this in mind! At Activ8, we use a range of different technologies so sellers can get the benefits of a centralised warehousing and fulfilment solution without having to invest the capital to put their own infrastructure in place. By diversifying our channels and bridging multiple technology tools, we’re able to evaluate each of these strategies for our clients and make personalised recommendations for every brand.
- Brexit is coming. It’s time to prepare for it
No one knows exactly how Brexit will impact online sellers, but we do know that there are ways to manage the risk of Brexit restrictions for businesses operating in the UK. For example, looking into domestic storage and fulfilment centres, partnering with knowledgeable tax advisors and developing working relationships with warehousing and fulfilment providers globally will ensure you’re prepared to maintain multi-channel operations without interruption.
- Build a team you can trust
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s important for business owners to know their operations are being managed competently without having to oversee the details themselves. The only way to accomplish this is to assemble a team of experts you can trust to run the process smoothly and effectively. While you may not have the capital or infrastructure in place to manage your own storage facilities and distribution channels, we absolutely recommend partnering with an agency (like Activ8!) that can help you streamline your logistics while minimising the impact on your bottom line. Outsourcing through a third-party operator is a great way to scale your business because it gives you flexible options while still giving you full visibility on stock levels, stock velocity, business intelligence analytics and more across multiple channels.
- Risk-mitigated strategies are crucial
With 20 years in the industry, I’ve just about seen it all. From warehouse fires and postal strikes to natural disasters and a global pandemic, one thing has become clear: it pays to mitigate risk. The more a business can focus on a diverse, multi-platform selling and fulfilment strategy, the better! A risk-averse solution is much like auto insurance – hopefully, you’ll never need it, but when things go wrong, you’ll be glad you have it.
Still have questions about warehousing & fulfilment? Get in touch!
Stuart Conroy has run Activ8 for 20 years and has operated across multiple channels in Asia, Europe and North America. With an understanding of the latest technology, logistics and outsourcing opportunities, Activ8 provides strategy consulting and hands-on solutions to brands looking to manage risk and scale opportunity in online commerce.
Activ8 utilise their experience of being on the Fast Track 100 on two occasions to help brands navigate the scaling process and operate a risk-averse multichannel strategy.
Having worked in investment banking before starting an ecommerce business as well as creating and working with a number of start-ups, Stuart has a great understanding of the challenges facing businesses of all sizes in the modern, digitally-influenced arenas.