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Scaling and order fulfillment?

We launched our website a few weeks ago and we're getting killed with orders and order fulfillment. Currently, we're manually tracking our orders on a spreadsheet in google docs. But our sales are outpacing our ability to track and fulfill orders in a timely manner. Because we hold very little inventory, we only order from the manufacturer once we have the sale. The problem is volume. We simply do not have enough manpower and hours in the day to track.

Does anyone have suggestions on a better way to do this? I'm thinking we need something automated - software that can alert us when an order is languishing (i.e. someone dropped the ball and the item didn't ship from the manufacturer or didn't get logged in). We may need to hire as well.

Because we're new to retail/ecommerce, I would appreciate all suggestions. Any experts in FD on scaling B2C businesses?

Thanks - L.

18 Replies

Rob Gropper
2
0
Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
you could consider fulfillment by Amazon at least until you stop the hemorrhaging.
Jason Agent Red Seeber
0
0
Jason Agent Red Seeber Entrepreneur
Owner, The Wine Spies, LLC
This is a nice problem to have!

I'd suggest either rolling your own software or going with something like Shopify, which has a ton of excellentfeatures and lots of 3rd party add-ons to support various aspects of your business.

Our needs were so specialized that we built our own. If you need suggestions for developers, I would be happy to point to to some great ones.
Leonard Jones
0
0
Leonard Jones Entrepreneur
Web Developer & Graphic Design at MyDotDesign
I would probably need more information to give an exact solution for your issue, but I think that there are several web solutions that could help track your shipping and selling. This would put all your information in the same place and also allow you to track your inventory. I would love to take a look at your website and see if I can help.
Derick Smith
0
0
Derick Smith Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO @ Chainreactor
Lucia
Would have to know more about the platform you run on. There are many tools available that can accomplish a lot for a dropshipping business like Channeladvisor, but they are quite expensive.
Ken Waagner
0
0
Ken Waagner Advisor
Digital Strategy, Interactive and Streaming Media Professional
we've built order automation and notification for clients and customers for 10+ years would be happy to advise on some possible approaches and solutions depending on the specifics.
Mark L. Rosenberg
1
0
Mark L. Rosenberg Entrepreneur
Tax, securities and commercial litigation
You may want to consider raising a small amount of capital in order to buy more inventory, particularly if you want to make sure that you can fulfill orders quickly and build trust with the customer. Many of my start up company clients get some small loans from friends and family, some of which may convert to equity at a later point. Let me know if I can help with this.
Lucia Guh-Siesel
0
0
Lucia Guh-Siesel Entrepreneur
CEO & Founder, Bandalou
Leonard - here you go:https://bandaloubaby.com/
Jim Hodson
1
0
Jim Hodson Entrepreneur
Digital Marketing Strategist & SEO Evangelist
Hello Lucia,

Automating the order tracking could be something as simple as using Zapier (https://zapier.com/) for now to automatically update a Google Doc, trigger emails, database updates, etc. But you'll likely need a robust suite of software to manage things like purchasing, order management, shipping, and more if things continue at the current pace.But tracking is probably the least of your worries at this point.

I would be more concerned about the fact that "[you] only order from the manufacturer once[you] have the sale." This is a terrible order/shipment management process. In today's world, people expect to receive their product with 2-3 days of ordering (I get things delivered several times per week).

The best approach that offers the highest margins is to inventory/warehouse the product yourself. While this does come with additional work (an additional risks like buying more product than you can sell), it's necessary to maximize margins and provide customers with a greatexperience.

The other option is to find one or more "reliable" drop shippers (or Amazon) to fulfill orders on your behalf. I hesitate to mention Amazon as they are ANY B2C ecommerce site's worst enemy.

Josh Litwin
2
0
Josh Litwin Advisor
CEO Memento Press, Inc.
Hi Lucia,

I've been through this cycle several times, as VP ops or COO.
Twice, we scaled from zero to 10K orders/day within 18 months.
Would be happy to spend a few minutes talking about your options.
I have a few refining questions that will help zero in on a fast-to-implement, low cost, real-world solution to what you're facing.

Cheers,
Josh Litwin
Tanya Wright
1
0
Tanya Wright Entrepreneur
Crystal Burset on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and creator of HAIRiette of HARLEM hairiette.com
I am of the "if you can't beat them, join them " mentality (re:Amazon). All great answers and a great problem to have! Curious, would you be willing to share what you're doing that's driving so much traffic to your site?
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