By Martin Bysh, CEO of fulfilment technology provider Huboo
2020 was a polarising year for our business community. Thousands of businesses were sadly forced to close their doors for good while many thousands of others saw record growth levels, particularly those digital-first D2C brands able to reap the rewards of the eCommerce explosion.
Indeed, the year ahead also looks to be filled with growth opportunities for agile D2C businesses. And with the broader economic background still deeply uncertain, it makes sense for these companies to pursue a rapid expansion/diversification strategy that helps mitigate risk and provide more sustainable growth.
But what happens when a trickle in demand suddenly becomes a surge, as we saw so often in 2020?
A young D2C brand with a great product, a winning brand and a slick sales and marketing operation can still undo its good work if it neglects to consider how to meet increased demand when it arrives.
It all comes down to fulfilment, something which isn’t usually top of mind for most entrepreneurs – and with good reason. Until recently, few third party fulfilment providers would cater for startups, leaving new business owners with no choice but to go it alone.
Times may have changed, but the message hasn’t fully permeated the entrepreneurial community, and hence fulfilment tends to slip down the priority list in favour of growth and building out the organisation.
However, by the time a business is shipping 30-40 product units per day, it’s an issue that HAS to be put back on the agenda. Failure to enact a fulfilment strategy at this stage will mean a world of pain once demand surges and no doubt loss of customers through poor service and delivery.
Not only that, but for a small business juggling multiple priorities, fulfilment really is a thankless task. One which makes sense to outsource to a trusted partner as early as possible. And, of course, you need a partner that won’t treat you as second-rate when you’re small, and that is capable of scaling with you as you grow.
At Huboo we’ve been engaged by some savvy entrepreneurs before they’ve even shipped their first product. Equally, we’ve received our fair share of 11th hour emergency calls from business leaders scrabbling for a partner as they drown in incoming orders. So whichever fulfilment partner you opt for, remember, the time to decide is now, before demand overtakes you.