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Got spare capacity in your warehouse? Fancy turning fresh air into cash? Well, read on because I have got an idea I would like to share with you.

A wonder of the internet and popularity of marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Not On The High Street et al is that there are no barriers to entry for individuals or companies wishing to flog their wares. If you have the stock, it is quite simple to connect with potential buyers around the globe. OK, there are commission and carriage fees to consider, but the overall acquisition and processing costs are much lower than in days of yore when catalogues and off-the-page were the only show in town.

So, now everyone is an entrepreneur. Many have turned a hobby into proper businesses. In fact some of the biggest sellers on marketplaces are names you have never heard of, trading from lock-ups and self-storage units. It amuses me when I see these low-cost, fleet-of-foot traders usurp bigger retailers with all the accoutrements of past successes. The customer doesn’t really care about flashy premises and nice branding; to paraphrase James Carville, it’s the price and delivery, stupid.

With almost unlimited potential, it follows that more products and more listings across more territories directly correlates to sales growth. This is both a blessing and a curse. Operations founded on a bit of fun are not generally geared to multi-million pound turnover and meeting the expectations of a demanding audience. It is not uncommon for the wheels to fall off, so how can the monster be tamed?

The first step is to gain control of data and throughput (purchases, sales orders, finance) by implementing software. Secondly, run everything on numbers – think margins, barcodes, SKUs, stock, processing costs and cashflow (see previous blog). Thirdly, (this is where you come in) remove the aggro and outsource fulfilment. I often wonder why proprietors dedicate so much time and energy on operational issues when they could be doing much nicer things.

In the abstract, we now have a loose collection of players on the scene – sellers, buyers, software and people with redundant storage space. So, what’s the big idea?

Well, these are the days of the crowd and anyone with spare cash, a bedroom, driveway or bric-a-brac can trade. If you have spare capacity in your warehouse, why not sell it? Become a fulfilment services provider.

The principle is simple, but in practice we need to dovetail everything together and the common denominator is software. If all parties are working on a single system, viewing the same data and truly connected to buyers, this idea has legs.

Our software has been developed as a low-cost, multi-tenant, fulfilment platform. It enables merchants to bring order to their business and outsource all or part of their pick, pack and dispatch activity. Furthermore, it includes a billing module that enables service providers to automate the calculation of charges.

This is a unique platform. The process works as follows:
1. Seller downloads and installs the software and loads product data
2. Products are sent to your space and matched against Purchase Order
3. You process items into stock on the platform
4. Items are listed across channels and websites by the seller in the platform. 
5. Orders are collected and processed within the platfom
6. You pick, pack and dispatch the orders through integrated carriers
7. You invoice the seller for space and services provided

If you have fixed costs and need to unlock more profit, think about trading your facilities and becoming a 3rd party service provider with our fulfilment software.

At Exact Abacus, we help merchants sell, manage and deliver at the lowest possible cost. If you would like to connect with thousands of sellers and turn your space into cash, get in touch today!

by leet on 19/03/2015

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