First Principles are basic, self-evident assumptions – something that cannot be deduced from any other assumption. In other words, they are the core beliefs upon which all of other assumptions and ideas are based.
What that does have to do with warehousing and order fulfillment services? Well, every company must decide what tasks they want to do, and what tasks they want other people to do for them. Henry Ford wanted to do everything, all the way to owning the mines which product the iron ore for his automobiles. We all realize that is mostly impossible today. Looking at First Principles will be a great help in the decision making process.
The decision to outsource order fulfillment is an extremely emotional decision. If you are a small business owner, you are passionate about your products. You may have designed them, crafted them, or invested a personal fortune in buying them. You deal with them daily, and they are the lifeblood of your company. Why on earth would you let someone else store, handle, package and ship them? How can you trust someone else with the very things that you hold so dear?
At times like these you need to look at your First Principles. The most basic is that you only have 24 hours each day, and not all of that can be spent on business. It is then obvious that you cannot pick, pack and ship every order. So it becomes a question of how best can you use the time available to you? Do you have the physical space and people you trust to handle your order fulfillment? Is lack of space making you inefficient? Are you constantly drawn into fulfillment or personnel problems, keeping you away from crucial product design, marketing, or sales activities?
If your analysis leads you to outsourcing, you still have to deal with the emotions of letting go. Can you turn to someone who can be almost as passionate about your products as you are? As the former owner of a manufacturing company, I understand how important your products are to you, and how important that first impression is as customers receive their shipments. I can share your passion, and make sure that all of our personnel are just as passionate. All order fulfillment companies are not the same – make sure you can make a connection with the people that set the tone for the company, and that they share the same values and concerns as you do.