Want to Scale Fulfillment Operations? Buy a Belt.

February 14, 2017 by Amware Fulfillment

For those of us whose weight fluctuates, clothing is very unforgiving.  The pants that fit perfectly in the Fall are now just a little too tight after a holiday season of eating and binge-watching football on the couch.

Heck, I’m vegan and I hardly ever sit on the couch, but I too struggle to maintain a constant weight.  

Can your 3PL scale operations when warehouse volume fluctuates?So what happens when the scales tell a different story every week? We buy another pair of pants until, pretty soon, our closet is full of “skinny” jeans, “fat” jeans and “normal-me” jeans.

But there’s one clothes item in that closet that is VERY forgiving – the belt.  A high-quality belt can last for years, letting you go up and down a notch as your weight dictates.  Isn’t that how fulfillment warehousing should be – more like the belt than the pants, allowing you to scale operations at will?

Aim for Variable Rate Fulfillment Pricing

One Amware customer’s volume is steady state for most of the year, but then jumps 200% around the holidays. Another customer’s volume jumps about 50% after their annual sales convention.  But proper planning allows these firms to ramp up space and labor in Amware facilities to meet these peak periods, while still maintaining the same quality standards for accuracy, on-time delivery and other key metrics.

These companies don’t have to go out and buy/rent warehouse space to accommodate different selling seasons.  Their third party logistics provider (3PL) serves as their “belt” – flexibly and seamlessly adapting as demand grows and contracts.

Scaling for the Long Term

Flexible fulfillment is critical on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis, since it allows expenses to parallel revenue.  But it’s even more important as you consider the long-term trajectory of your business.  You want a modular solution that scales with your business – from start-up to market leader.

It’s painful and costly to change fulfillment partners. That’s why you want to apply “the belt test” when choosing an order fulfillment services partner. 

  • Do they have a large, cross-trained labor force?
  • Do they have locations across the U.S. should you need to expand your distribution network?
  • Do they have experience serving large-volume customers with an automated solution should your business reach that point (you don’t want to be a provider’s guinea pig)?
  • Can their systems accommodate your needs today and 5 years from now?

The right belt is “fat proof.” The right fulfillment partner can “future-proof” your distribution solution so you can focus on sales growth, not how to handle that growth when it comes. 

Can Your Fulfillment Operations Scale?  Poor choices at the start can undermine long-term growth. Download our free white paper.

Filed Under: Fulfillment Services