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When it's time to partner with a fulfillment company for your subscription box.

If you run a subscription box business, you may be wondering if it’s time to partner with a fulfillment company. Consider these points to determine if a partnership with a fulfillment center is the right choice for your company.

You don’t have time to focus on quality control. There are so many aspects to running your subscription box business – connecting with brands that want to include their products in your boxes; handling customer inquiries and troubleshooting their issues; marketing on social media. Time savings is important, and you simply don’t feel that you have time to dedicate to quality control, and you’re worried that your boxes are going to be sent without living up to the standards you want set. You know that this is going to affect your customers and it could lead to negative reviews and loss of sales. For some business owners, even those who realize that order fulfillment is an integral part of the business, it can feel like minutia. If you feel that your skills and effort can be better applied elsewhere, fulfillment may be sucking up too much of your energy and focus.

Efficiency experiments are driving you nuts. When it comes to order fulfillment, there are so many ways to make the entire process more efficient. You have to experiment with packing techniques, line setup, tools and equipment, and shipping schedules. Yes, mastering all of this will make you more successful as a company, but all of these trials and adjustments are driving you up the wall. You’d much rather have a company that’s already perfected fulfillment handle the process for you, letting you reap the benefits of time savings.

You think it’s smart to outsource as much as possible. One cornerstone of success is outsourcing whatever you can, so long as it’s not something you like doing or are incredibly good at doing (or, hopefully, both). Unless you love the fulfillment process or you think that your efforts are best focused in fulfillment, you may want to hand it over to someone else simply because you can, and because it’ll give you more leverage when it comes to how you spend your time. As a business owner, you don’t need much more of a reason for parting with a fulfillment company than that.

You have other ways to measure scale. Let’s say you handle fulfillment in-house, either at your home or at a workshop. As your business grows, you can look around at the amount of product and orders being processed, which gives you a huge “wow” moment and a feeling of achievement. That’s all great, but that feeling is fleeting, and you may have ten other ways to track your success that have nothing to do with sorting through stacks of products and boxes. If you don’t need to visually see the scale of your business, you may be much happier “wow-ing” at the facts and figures of how successful you’re becoming.

You hate being an employer. Unless you’re handling fulfillment completely on your own, with absolutely no help from employees or pals, you have to be a boss in one way or another. Maybe you have actual employees who work for you and collect a weekly paycheck, or maybe your “employees” are your best friends or your family members. However official or unofficial your status as an employer is, you’re in charge of others…and you don’t like it. Having employees comes with its own set of business must-dos, like time sheets, human resources and tax forms. This can be a job all by itself, which means you may want to hire even more employees to handle your current employees. If you want to handle fulfillment in-house forever, as you scale and expand and grow, then you’re going to need to tackle this at some point. If you’re on the fence about it, though, you may want to partner with a fulfillment company before you ever have to navigate the complex waters of hiring employees.

You don’t have a facility to handle fulfillment. Once your subscription box company grows out of your living room (and we hope it already has), you’re going to need to rent a bigger space to handle fulfillment. This doesn’t just mean finding and paying for a warehouse, though (one that’s safe, both inside and outside). It also means using tools to track all of your packing essentials (boxes, tissue, tape, etc.), and managing all of the products that are going inside the boxes. If you don’t have the space to do all this yet, and you don’t think you’re going to want to spend the money to attain the space or commit the resources to maintaining it, this may be the perfect time to partner with a fulfillment company with more expertise.

You found a fulfillment center you trust. Even if you hate the tasks of fulfillment, even if you’re burnt out on trying to manage your employees and run your warehouse, it can still stop you in your tracks if you don’t trust the people you put in charge. However, if you’ve found a fulfillment center you trust, you’ve gotten over a huge hurdle. By asking other people in your industry for suggestions, you may be able to narrow down your list of options to fulfillment companies that have a great track record of expertise. Also, make sure that you’re free to go in and see how things are running, and that you can get pictures of the boxes that go out, especially in the beginning.

You can afford it. Once you’ve crunched the numbers, you’ve learned that you can afford hiring a fulfillment company, especially once you account for all the money you’ll be saving on packing supplies, shipping costs, storage fees and employees. Fulfillment is an expense, but as your company starts to scale, you’ll see more cost savings and a better return-on-investment. Ultimately, the decision to partner with a fulfillment company depends on your business, your packing and shipping process, associated shipping costs, and how you want to allocate your time. Think every aspect through to decide whether or not hiring a fulfillment specialist makes sense for your subscription box company.

Written by Fusion Fulfillment.

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