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When I talk to entrepreneurs and small business owners, there's only one thing that you hear from all of them: time is always short! In trying to bootstrap your online store to its full potential, you have to look for parts of your business you can hand off to those who can handle it best.
So when it's time to deliver online orders to your customers, spending time printing labels, packing products, and dropping the packages off is hardly the way you want to spend your limited time. This is why you turn over your order fulfillment to ShipBob.
In this tutorial, I'm going to teach you how to get the most out of ShipBob, a leading provider of eCommerce order fulfillment. You'll see that outsourcing your order fulfillment is a huge weight lifted from most small business owners' workload. Plus, the built-in analytics and reporting tools can help you understand your business and customer order patterns better. Let's take a closer look:
Why Outsource Your Order Fulfillment?
With ShipBob, once you are set up with your account, you simply send all of your inventory to their warehouse location, and they handle the rest. Sending all of your inventory to a third-party allows you to simplify delivery and get back to running your business.
Here are five of my favorite reasons to turn over fulfillment to ShipBob:
- Because ShipBob handles huge volumes of shipments, they can negotiate shipping discounts with carriers and pass along the cost savings to you.
- There are multiple warehouses located in large cities across different regions of the country to position your inventory closer to customers for faster turnaround times.
- Easy integration with many eCommerce platforms means that you can get started with ShipBob quickly, and they'll automatically receive order information as customers complete checkout on your store.
- ShipBob has ample warehouse space to scale up at any given time to handle even more inventory as your online business grows, so you aren't constantly looking for new space to store your products.
- The shipping tools and analytics inside of ShipBob help you to understand your business better and keep important trends in front of you.
There is a myriad of reasons to turn over your order fulfillment to a professional third-party provider, but you want to pick the best company to partner with. Learn more:
How to Get Started With ShipBob
ShipBob integrates with a number of popular eCommerce platforms so that it's a seamless setup to outsource third-party order fulfillment. Let's look at how to get started using them:
As soon as you sign up for a ShipBob account, you'll be prompted to complete the Quick Setup wizard that makes setup a breeze.
Here are the simple steps that you can complete in one sitting to begin outsourcing your order fulfillment:
- Store Integration - Connect your shop that's running on a popular platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, or eBay to start integrating the two seamlessly.
Sync Your Inventory - Run an initial sync of your inventory so that ShipBob knows what inventory to pull in from your store.
- Account Settings - Add key details for your business for administrative purposes.
- Inventory Settings - Prepare to send your first shipment of inventory to ShipBob so that they can take over your fulfillment.
Believe it or not, that's it! After you ship out the inventory, they'll start taking orders from your connected shop and ship them out to your customers.
Shopify is one of the most common eCommerce platforms, and ShipBob has an excellent integration with it. Check out this complete guide to integrating the two together:
ShipBob's Reporting Value-Add
Once you've been using ShipBob for some time, you can begin to take advantage of the eCommerce analytics and reporting tools for your business to discover key insights.
Optimizing your business is really about understanding the trends and what's happening with your order patterns. This is one of the values that ShipBob really brings to the table when you outsource your logistics.
Let's take a look at some of the professional reports and powerful data insights that ShipBob brings to the table:
1. Dashboard View
Dashboards are often used in tools as a way to keep key data and statistics in front of you. An analytics dashboard is all about keeping those key metrics front and center so that you always have a pulse on your business results.
The dashboard is what you'll see each time that you log into ShipBob. Key metrics like order delays, total orders shipped this week compared to last week, and average transit time will keep you plugged in.
2. Advanced Reporting
Even if you're using a tool like Shopify or WooCommerce that has built-in analytics and reporting capabilities, ShipBob's reporting and analytics provide even more information, building on top of that data.
To check out some of these reports, log into your ShipBob account and open Reporting on the left side, then choose Advanced Reporting. In the screenshot below, you can see that not only do you have a past history of revenue, but a forecast of projected future results.
As you scroll down, you'll also see a view of the order figures separated by inventory, with the quantity of each item sold.
Having access to powerful analytics like these helps you understand your online business and customers better, spot important patterns, and discover actionable insights.
3. Managing and Tracking Inventory
ShipBob also gives you great insight into your inventory levels, dividing it into the key inventory statistic buckets, including "In stock," "in transit," "back ordered," and more.
To see this data, jump into the Inventory > Inventory Status menu. What I love about this view is that you can easily sort the inventory columns to understand inventory counts by location and more.
Use a view like this to help you keep an eye on inventory on hand that's getting low. With that view, you'll know what you need to send to ShipBob. You can also set up reorder notification points to be proactively alerted when it’s time to restock.
4. Checking Order Status
Since ShipBob is handling the delivery of your items to customers, it's important to use their interface to monitor the status of orders with customers in case any questions arise (though they also send these details back to your customers and your store once shipped).
You can jump into seeing all of the orders by clicking on Orders on the ShipBob menu. Choose from Processing, Completed, or On Hold orders to see a list of orders for the given status.
After you've found the order that you're interested in, simply click on the ID number to view a complete list of details. You'll see all of the shipping details, tracking numbers (automatically added by ShipBob), and more.
To learn more about an individual order, simply click on the ID number to view more detail.
All of these different views will put you in the driver’s seat for understanding your business. Not only is ShipBob taking over the hard work of getting your online store's orders to customers, but the analytics help you understand your business better than ever so that you can make informed decisions.
What's Next? Try Out ShipBob for Your eCommerce Order Fulfillment
Above all, outsourcing parts of your online business is all about freeing you up to do what you do best.
Many of us small business owners constantly feel stretched thin while learning how to do every single task for our eCommerce business. Companies can't outsource the things that they're best at, like product development, or they risk losing a competitive advantage.
But one thing you can reliably outsource to another provider is third-party logistics and eCommerce order fulfillment. Take advantage of those opportunities to outsource the parts of your business that are best handled by dedicated professionals.
You may be thinking that now is the right time to start using a service like ShipBob for your eCommerce order fulfillment. They have logistics down-pat and will let you focus on growing your own core business.