Handling purchase fulfillment isn’t one of the most interesting parts of running a business. But if your business is one that ships products, it’s an absolutely necessary one.
Small businesses that can’t afford to manage their own warehouses have had to sign long-term contracts with fulfillment centers to manage and ship their inventories. But the people behind Shotput want to provide a better solution to those small and medium sized businesses.
In a conversation with VentureBeat, Shotput cofounder James Steinberg described the service as “Amazon Web Services for fulfillment.” That refers to the company’s ability to scale in order to fit the needs of any business.
Instead of dealing in long-term contracts, the company offers pay-as-you-go service. To use Shotput, companies can just enter their product information — including weight, size and amount — into the company’s website. Shotput will then generate a price and the business can place its order.
Shotput picks up the order from the manufacturer and delivers it to one of its partner warehouses. From there, Shotput ships out the products to your customers. The company says it can get products from the manufacturer to customers in approximately 10 days.
Such a service has become much more necessary in recent years, especially with the meteoric rise of crowdfunding. When entrepreneurs successfully fund their campaigns, they then have to find a way to fulfill all of the orders and rewards that they owe their donors.
For brand new companies, signing a long-term logistics contract can make a big dent in that newly-raised capital. And plenty of crowdfunded startups have either failed or nearly done so because they didn’t take the full cost of fulfilling those orders into account.
But it’s not just crowdfunded companies that can benefit. Small businesses in all industries have felt pressure because of the high costs or stress involved in logistics and order fulfillment. So having an option that is both affordable and easy to use is a welcome change for many of those businesses.
Getting products from manufacturer to customer seems like a simple enough service. And charging businesses only for the services they actually need seems like a simple enough concept. But the other logistic options out there aren’t really optimized for the needs of small businesses.
So even though Shotput’s offering might not seem like a huge innovation, it could change the entire makeup of the logistics industry.