As an owner of an online store you “lose” most time with packing the orders. When you do this yourself you will have to go to the post office every day to send away the orders.
I advise you to outsource fulfilment to a fulfilment company. A fulfilment company will save you the most time! When you do everything yourself you would need to print of the packing slips, pack the orders, enter them on the website of the parcel company, print off stickers and bring the orders to the parcel service.
A fulfilment company does all of the above for you. In combination with a payment provider all your orders will leave your shop automatically. Very handy and efficient!
It quickly becomes cheaper to let a fulfilment company handle your orders than if you have to do it yourself in a place that you need to rent for stocking your products and packing the orders. When you outsource to a fulfilment company both you and the fulfilment company benefit due to the larger scale advantage.
What should I pay attention to when starting with fulfilment?
Make sure you look for a company than offers product-fulfilment. There are other forms of fulfilment as well (bulk and document fulfilment, for example) but those are not interesting for you.
Product-fulfilment is specialized in one-on-one orders, and this is the type of orders you process with an online store.
Also make sure you make good agreements with the fulfilment company about the costs. The factual handling fee is only a small part of the final invoice. The biggest part of the fulfilment costs are the costs for the packaging material and shipping. Extra costs, such as urgent orders, returns, mending mistakes, etc can add up to quite a big amount. It is important to discuss these costs as well, so you know what to expect.
Choosing a fulfilment company
Companies do not always state on their website that they offer fulfilment. I use TNT in the Netherlands, and I had to call them to find out what they offered.
It is wise to approach a number of companies and ask them for a quote. The exact costs differ significantly across e-commerce businesses, depending on the type of online store and product.