Fulfilling Orders From a Home-Based Business

Beverley Williams

You are excited to be debuting your new product. But you are concerned about making sure you can fill orders. So…how do you make sure you can deliver what you promise? Good planning and research.

Brainstorm with a business partner, spouse, roommate, or friend. What is, in your wildest dream, the number of orders and quantities of each order you might get? Can you handle it? If not, it is better to say so up front than to take the order and not be able to fill it. Knowing where you can get extra pairs of hands to help in a crunch is good planning as well.

You have probably figured out what size order and how many you can pack for shipping yourself with a little help from you friends. But what will you do if you get more orders than you can handle? There are fulfillment houses that can do everything from storage of inventory to packing and shipping those orders for you – for a fee, of course. My partner and I have a product-based business that experiences feast and famine ordering seasons. We have talked with several non-profit groups that hire and train the handicapped to do fulfillment. We have also contacted the local Prison Workforce Program that is exploring fulfillment options for local businesses.

Now how do you make sure the order gets to your customer in a timely (and cost efficient) manner? This is another issue my partner and I have had to address. We found help on the web through sites that allow us to compare different shipping options. A couple of sites that might be helpful to you are:

www.intershipper.net - software package you can buy allows you to manage your shipments from your own computer.

www.freightquote.com - gives you the best shipment options from the information you provide.

www.freightquote.com - handles both small and large shipping needs.

www.ups.com - print out shipping labels, arrange for pick up and deliver, and track your shipments.

www.fedex.com - print out mailing labels and track shipments.

Some of our customers want an order rushed to them. Within minutes we can tell them exactly what the shipping costs will be by going online.

You will notice that some of these sites ask whether the shipment is to be picked up from a residence or business location. It is important to let them know that you are a home-based business. Most shipping companies don’t have a problem with it; they just need to inform their drivers that they are going to a residential area rather than a commercial one. It saves time and confusion in the long run.

The sites also ask if the delivery is going to a residential or commercial address. Again, it helps them route efficiently. Be aware that some shipping companies charge an additional fee for business deliveries to residential areas, particularly guaranteed morning deliveries. The reason given is that they must pull their drivers away from the commercial areas to deliver to residential areas which costs them time. That extra cost is passed on to you. If you are going to be shipping to other home-based businesses, it may not be an issue for you. However, you may want to ask if there are additional charges to pick up from a home-based business as well.

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