Storage, pick & pack and logistics services for E-commerce start-ups

What is E-commerce?

E-commerce (or Electronic Commerce in full) is the bEcommerce fulfilmentuying and selling of goods and services via the internet.  Being a relatively young concept, online businesses really took off with the introduction of the internet in 1991 – approximately the time when e-commerce was born.   The start of this worldwide phenomenon has allowed for thousands of companies to either start-up or evolve into online trading, whether buying or selling.  As long as the world continues to experience the improvements and technological advancements as seen over the last few decades, e-commerce will continue to grow and grow.  The system allows everyone access to services & goods that would not have previously been available to us.

Companies such as Ebay and Amazon have been in existence since the very beginning of the internet – Amazon now being probably the most famous market place.  Allowing third party companies to trade and sell their products on the Amazon website.

What warehousing & logistics services will I need when starting an e-commerce business?

With the sale of items via the internet, will come the fulfilment & distribution process.  Initially you may think that your garage will be an adequate place to start for the storage and picking of your sales.  This will, of course, keep costs to a minimum to start with and will help you expand your business by investing more money into more products.  You will be able to cater for the picking of your customers’ orders and wrapping and despatch by yourself.  However, as is most often the case, what happens when your online trading sees a considerable increase and more and more consumers are learning about your products through their friends.  An increase in orders, will mean an increase in your stock holding and the sourcing of your products. More time will be needed to accommodate the fulfilment of the orders being received.  If you work full-time and start your e-commerce business in the evenings, this is going to take up a considerable amount of your “spare” time and you will start to find that there are just not enough hours in the day.

So what now? Well now is the time to start thinking about outsourcing the storage & fulfilment of your orders to a 3PL (third party logistics) provider.  There are hundreds of warehouse & logistics companies in the UK who offer services ranging from the storage of a few boxes up to tens of thousands of pallets, fulfilment (pick & pack), customer relations & administration, procurement & sourcing of products, through to the distribution of orders.  Many companies can help as little or as much as you need them to.  Perhaps to start with you just need somewhere to store your goods but you want to continue handling the picking & packing yourself.  Maybe you want to hand the entire storage & picking of orders over to an experienced, professional warehouse provider to allow you more time to concentrate on the sourcing of new products for your range and the marketing of your business. You might even wish to recruit an experienced customer account manager to receive your orders and answer questions from your clients.  Using a 3PL service, pretty much anything is possible and companies do frequently offer bespoke packages for each individual customer who uses their service.

How do I find the right service provider for me?

Due to the sheer volume of third party logistics services available in the UK, where do you start to find the right provider for you and your business?  Here at Whichwarehouse we have more than 13 years experience offering guidance & advice to companies of all sizes relating to their storage, warehousing & logistics requirements.  We have sourced space for companies needing 15,000 pallet spaces due to lack of space in their own warehouse through to start-up businesses who just have a few pallets of goods initially and no forecast of how big their business is going to get.  We understand that the smaller start-up companies will need to find a logistics partner who is happy to work with them whilst they are small and offer them a more personal co-operation.  At the same time offering space flexibility for expansion, allowing you to grow your business whilst not having to find an alternative 3PL partner in the future.  Building up a good rapport with one warehouse company can be hard enough and many people would not want to have to go through the whole process again in 12 months time.  Sometimes certain products require specialised picking, re-kitting or handling and therefore having trained the warehouse staff at your current provider’s facility, you could do without the extra workload of having to retrain the staff of a new company.

The main objective for any SME (small & medium enterprise) is that they find a 3PL company who will treat their products like their own.  As your business grows, you will need to concentrate on aspects such as customer relations, attaining good lead times for the despatch of orders, ensuring sufficient packaging to allow for the goods to reach the end user in perfect condition, keeping returns to a minimum etc.

Whichwarehouse is home to a vast network of professional, experienced & reliable warehouse service providers & logistics companies who can assist with ALL requirements. Covering the whole of the UK and Ireland.  Anything from self-storage through to a complete supply chain solution.  So if you are experiencing difficulty in finding a 3PL provider to help you due to the small quantities you might need to store or the infrequent movement & handling of your stock, contact us by phone on 0800 1707 555 or email us at [email protected] and we will be delighted to offer advice and find you the perfect solution within our network.  A key piece to remember when searching for a 3PL provider is to keep an open mind in respect of the location.  It is very rare that you will find the right company on your doorstep or sometimes even in the same town as you.  However keep in mind that as they will be handling your stock, fulfilment & the distribution of your products anyway, the location is not so important as you will not need to visit the facility very often.  Being flexible on the location of your preferred warehouse will give you access to much more choice too as well as different rates as these will vary dependent on areas; as parts of the UK that are not as popular as other areas will have slightly cheaper rates.

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