Small Businesses vs. Conglomerates: Is On-Demand Fulfillment for Everyone?

In this age of internet optimization and an overall customer expectation of goods delivered “right now,” On-demand fulfillment is becoming a necessary business practice. The ability to sell goods without the need to go through a lengthy assessment and production process when an order comes in is the difference between keeping a customer or losing one who is unwilling to wait long for demands to be met. However, when it comes to small businesses vs. conglomerates, how can one know if on-demand fulfillment is an ideal method to conduct business or an inventory surplus disaster waiting to happen? Customers can be fickle when it comes to their sense of entitlement attached to their demands, and it is never a straightforward process to try and predict what customers will want at any given time. The key is to balance on-demand with in-the-moment-demand.

Small Businesses vs. Conglomerates

Working Business Models

One of the major, obvious differences between small businesses and conglomerates is numbers: number of employees, business locations, products, and so on. It’s obvious, and yet also crucial when trying to create a working business model for production and order fulfillment. Being aware of one’s assets—and maintaining awareness as the business starts to grow—is necessary, particularly when a business is deciding whether they want to jump into the on-demand fulfillment industry.

Every small business should be looking into branding as one of their first business mile-markers, as one’s brand is one’s visual identity to the world. After, it’s a good idea to start getting that brand out there. Depending on the nature of the small business, they might consider printing their brand on shirts or other easy-to-mass-produce items that can be bought and either worn or displayed in a public setting. To create and distribute these products is an excellent example of how on-demand fulfillment can be a beneficial business tool for a growing company. This is assuming that the small business is starting to gain revenue and has a few employees under its roof. Creating merchandise for a business where the ink on the paperwork is still wet will only result in a downward turn in revenue.

Most conglomerates have upwards of several hundred thousand employees. Because of either a successful business model or a high demand for their products, they also have a high revenue stream. For a business like McDonald’s with almost 400,000 employees, the thought of brand marketing is not as crucial because it is already known. Anywhere in the United States, customers recognize the “golden arches” and know where to go if they need a quick bite. On-demand fulfillment is the bread-and-butter of fast food, and now that business model is beginning to work its way into other sectors of the employment market as well.

The bottom line is that a small business with a decent revenue stream might benefit from a partnership with an on-demand fulfillment promise. On-demand fulfillment is “a lean inventory approach” that allows businesses to carefully pick and choose what sorts of products need to be developed based on demand. Whereas a conglomerate might have the funds and space to mass-produce a product that it already knows sells well, a small business might want to keep its stock low and only fulfill requests as they come in—or, on-demand.

Working Business Models

Creating Demands to Fill

If a small business is still struggling to get their product and business name out to the consumers even with on-demand fulfillment, they might want to consider scouting the market and creating opportunities for their product to sell. This means that a consumer will not know that he or she needs said product if he or she is unaware of that product’s existence and its usefulness in his or her life. Think of creating demand as a type of advertisement campaign: a movie trailer to get people excited about an upcoming film, or a billboard displaying a creative solution to a problem that consumers might not have been aware of but are now thinking on.

Once a demand niche has been created, then it can be filled. Simple, right? Where in the past word-of-mouth and a handy phonebook might have been enough to get your business known, now the internet and its many search engines have taken over that role. Once a small business has established itself and created a sense of demand among consumers, and early next step would be to implement on-demand fulfillment of certain products or services. This way, customers who find the business will see that their needs are met and will return.

There is little doubt that this same method of demand creation to on-demand fulfillment was the way that most major conglomerates were able to achieve success and step out of the small business world. Walmart got its start by offering a wide variety of goods at lower prices than its competitors, which appealed to customers who suddenly realized how useful a one-stop-shop could be. McDonald’s offered food on the go, which appealed to customers with busy schedules and no time to enjoy a “sit down” restaurant. By creating demands and filling them in a short amount of time, businesses can prosper in this consumer-driven market.

Creating Demands to Fill

Finding the Right On-Demand Fulfillment Partner

The specific needs of a new or established business will determine what kind of on-demand fulfillment partner they need. For many businesses, shipping is a high cost yet crucial need, and it is important to find a company with integrity to work with you. Choose a vendor that offers an immense variety of shipping options and inventory to help meet the growing demands of a small business or a conglomerate. Whether it’s shipping ambient products in a sturdy corrugated box or temperature-sensitive products in a state-of-the-art bio-freeze pack, the right partner has it covered.

Choose a fulfillment partner with experience in the industry and an unbeatable track record of service and reliability, who can determine the specific needs of a business and establish a chain of supply effectively and professionally. Once a business decides that on-demand fulfillment is the working model that will help it succeed, the next step is to reach out to the company. Start establishing those crucial connections so customers receive what they want on-demand. 

Find that balance between creating on-demand and creating in surplus, and success will follow. So long as a business has the right model and the right partners, there is little it will be unable to accomplish.