Owning and operating your own business can be very rewarding, but most owners will tell you it’s not easy. In addition to building up a solid customer base, hiring qualified employees, and ensuring your product stands out from those of your competitors’, there are many practical concerns, as well.

One factor that can quickly become overwhelming to businesses, especially in the start-up stage, is order fulfillment. When done right, order fulfillment can be a competitive advantage, one that provides you with cost savings, increased productivity, and one that frees up time and resources so that you can remain focused on your customers.

As a business owner, how do you know when it’s time to outsource order fulfillment? Here are a few tips to help you realize when the moment is just right:

You’re Overwhelmed!

If you’re inundated with orders for your product, congratulations! If you’ve got a large number of prospects to which you want to send customized marketing kits – great! But now that you’re experiencing some success, do you have the time to keep up with demand? Outsourcing to a fulfillment company will help you get your products and marketing kits out the door sooner. You can also potentially benefit from reduced shipping rates. Even if – make that especially if - your goods require high labor and customization, outsourced fulfillment can help you meet demand in a much more timely manner than you would if you attempt to continue to fulfill orders whenever time allows.

Noticeable Spikes–Up and Down–in Order Volume

For many businesses, it is normal and expected to experience seasonal sales spikes and valleys during the length of a year. Unfortunately, even when busy and slow seasons are known and forecasted, costs of maintaining on-site storage and a workforce to store and ship orders will not decrease just because business is in a slower period. This is where one of the most notable benefits to outsourcing your order fulfillment is realized.

Outsourcing product fulfillment can transform these fixed costs into a model which will make it possible to maintain a more reliable cost per order. Outsourcing product storage can be considerably less expensive than maintaining a larger space on site. With outsourcing, you also reduce labor costs by having the fulfillment center pick, pack and ship orders on an as-needed basis versus employing full-time staff experiencing downtime during slower seasons.

In-House Order Fulfillment is Preventing Growth

As any businessperson can tell you, you can’t bring in more sales simply by putting your product on display. In order to grow your business, your goods need to be sourced effectively, they must be thoroughly advertised, and a stark difference needs to be drawn against you and the competitors. Unfortunately, as new businesses spring up online at a faster pace every day, standing out amongst the crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. If you find that you are spending a great deal of time to pick, pack, and ship your merchandise, you could be losing out on a chance to build an effective presence. Instead, it may be time to let others handle your pick and pack. This will allow you to focus on growth-based tasks: meeting with customers, building a great website, developing new products or brainstorming your next marketing campaign.