How to Start a Fulfillment Business

by Karin Barga ; Updated September 26, 2017
Merchandise Distribution Center, Warehouse

Generally speaking, order fulfillment pertains to the steps involved in obtaining and expediting orders to end consumers. There are multiple styles of fulfillment businesses, including storage and warehousing, inventory control, e-commerce, product fulfillment and shipping. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each may require specific applications in order to provide total customer satisfaction. The ultimate goal of a successful fulfillment business is to satisfy the end consumer’s needs using computer technology, inventory monitoring, packaging operations, documentation and manpower.

From A to B

Procure a storage warehouse after carefully considering space demands for staff, packaging products, anticipated inventory, any required assembly and shipping procedures. Take into account how incoming deliveries will be received, which will determine the space requirements and design layout for your receiving department.

Obtain a business license, storage warehouse license, sales tax identification number, signed lease or property deed, certificate of occupancy and adequate liability insurance.

Acquire the conveyances necessary to fulfill orders, a fleet of delivery vehicles for example. Purchase packing and shipping supplies like tape, boxes, shipping labels, shrink wrap, postage machines and scales. Buy the right computer hardware and software to perform all necessary functions.

Network with professionals in businesses that can benefit from your products and services. Learn the trends of their businesses, study the grievances they have with warehousing and shipment and become an expert on providing solutions to those issues. Offer your e-commerce and IT circle of contacts as referrals to solidify business relationships. Join the International Warehouse Logistics Association to expand your professional credentials.

Establish a pricing matrix to include each fulfillment service your business offers. Include customer service, monthly storage, set-up charges, shipping charges and the like. Research what your competitors charge for similar services and evaluate your price list regularly. Do not underestimate the value of any added services your business offers.

A fulfillment business requires a diverse amount of responsibility individuals to operate smoothly. These include distribution professionals, forklift operators, inventory managers, logistics masters, material handlers, order pickers and packers, quality assurance supervisors and more. Learn how to identify candidates with job-specific talents or work with a staffing agency who can satisfy your specific needs.

Invest in marketing solutions. Consider partnering with web developers, graphic designers and e-commerce professionals to advertise your services. Learn to recognize qualified leads and maintain a comprehensive customer relations management system to stay in contact with them. Research best practices for advertising via word of mouth, business publications, social media and other avenues.

About the Author

Karin Barga contributes to various online publications, specializing in topics related to canines, equines and business. She earned career diplomas in bridal consulting, business management and accounting essentials. Barga is a certified veterinary assistant, holds certification in natural health care for pets, and is a licensed realtor and property manager.

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