If you’ve considered outsourcing your order fulfillment operations, this is a good time to evaluate your options. Choosing a fulfillment company isn’t like flipping a coin. A business must strategically determine which third party logistics company is best for their operations; otherwise disaster could be at the pitfall.
Here are a few factors that your business needs to consider when evaluating your options;
Location and Facilities.
Consider their location and how convenient is it for them to receive, and ship your product. This can save your company shipping and time waste.
If they are located close to international waters or borders, they might provide for a great warehousing and storage location before the product is distributed.
If you plan on storing something in their warehouse you need to consider their protection and security policies. Your business should consider the amount, and what kind of space they offer; whether it is a large warehouse, air conditioned or equipped with certain equipment that you might require. For example, a lift.
How long has the fulfillment center been in business, and which services are their specialties.
You can go as far as asking them for their general recommendations to see how well they would handle your situation. Chances are, you’re looking for someone who is committed to meeting your expectations and is willing to invest not only in their growth, but yours as well.
Feel free to ask them for customer references.
The reality of it is, your business is bound to grow with the right fulfillment center. If the company requires long commitment contracts with specific service outlines, they may or may not be right for you. But a company that is willing to integrate with your needs (including shopping cart integration), that is key.
Most fulfillment centers have signature fulfillment processes that they have coined. See how the handle mistakes, returns, accuracy, staffing and so forth.
- Will you receive updated reports
- Do you have the opportunity for live inventory and order management?
- Does the fulfillment center offer value added logistics?
- Do they have a contact center
- Can they make customized pick and pack procedures
- What does their customer service look like, from point a to point z
- What are your customer’s requirements and requests
Can the order fulfillment center help you meet those needs? Can you tour or demo what’s on their proposal?
Of course, you can always compare fulfillment center prices, but cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Make sure that you weight the dollar amount based on the value of the service you are getting.
These are very simple guidelines to use when you are choosing a fulfillment center. Perform your own analysis. Do your homework and find a company that will make a good partner, that will protect your company assets and growing business. Remember, there’s no such thing as too many questions.