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Small Business: Leveraging Your Resources
In a highly competitive market, the Small Business owner is often left at a disadvantage. They tend to lack the buying power of the large corporations. They are often left with the smallest discounts from vendors and suppliers. Small business usually lack the capital to attract and retain the very best employees. So how can they compete? The answer is a simple one, but one often overlooked by most business owners that are focused on getting through the day. The reality is that small business that are most successful learn to leverage their resources through outsourcing.
While the large corporations benefit from the economies of scale that their size allows they are often prone to bureaucracy, poor customer service and a top down approach to corporate values. In the e-commerce world the advantage lies with the business that is nimble, flexible and willing to do what it takes to succeed. The small business owner is able to see the results of his/her decisions in real time. Adjustments can be made immediately without working through layer upon layer of management.
Outsourcing components of your business that do not fall under your core competency is critical in todays business environment. Today, you can find staff located around the world through such websites as www.elance.com. These e-lancers are capable of designing a website, marketing and I.T. You can even find administrative staff that can handle your back office functions. Nearly every aspect of your business can be outsourced to top talent while you focus on growing your business.
When it comes to warehousing and shipping the greatest leverage can be applied through the use of a small business focused fulfillment center. The centers put a wealth of experience at your finger tips. The very best will advise on every aspect of your supply chain.
I often speak with entrepreneurs that are shipping one package at a time from an international address into the United States. Simply consolidating your shipments into one large one and sending it to a fulfillment center will lower your import costs – customs, duties, taxes, brokerage and transportation. Upon receipt at the fulfillment center they would receive the inventory and process the orders.
On the other end of the process is shipping internationally. A small business is typically unfamiliar with the rules and regulations concerning shipments destined for international locations – producing the necessary customs documents, commercial invoices, declared values and regulations that govern which products can and cannot be shipped. A fulfillment center specializing in shipping internationally can assist with this.
Domestic shipping is often perceived as the simplest type of shipping. Each carrier provides software that can help you ship packages, but it is also a bit cumbersome to figure out which is the lowest cost or which is the fastest service. Fulfillment centers deploy multi-carrier shipping software that will allow you greater control over your costs. The very best even have Least Cost Routing abilities.
The days of tossing a product into a box and shoving it out the door are gone. Customers expect their order to arrive in pristine condition. If you sell multiple products across multiple categories you would need to have an assortment of packaging and void fill options. A fulfillment center has these things in stock and will be able to make the necessary decisions on what is best for each order on an order by order basis.
The largest corporations have incredible intelligence gathering software, but small businesses often have limited data. A fulfillment partner should be able to provide access to a cloud based order management system that puts an abundance of reporting at your finger tips. This intelligence can be mined to provide you exactly the type of information that is most pertinent to your business.
Large corporations often utilize a consulting firm when their in-house staff run out of ideas or when they need a fresh set of eyes. A fulfillment centers staff can be your fresh set of eyes and provide ongoing feedback throughout the term of the relationship. I am often asked by our clients to sit in on vendor calls, marketing meetings and sales process meetings. Being a business owner the feedback that I am able to provide often takes the business owner that I am working with to a place they had not considered. The collaboration tends to be a win-win for the business and the fulfillment center.
By deploying a guaranteed solution you are better able to compete against even the largest of corporations in your industry. Put yourself on equal footing and gain the competitive advantage.
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