Whether you own an eCommerce operation or run franchises, you’ll be responsible for shipping orders to the right destination. That’s easier said than done most days. Your team has to take care of packaging and branding, all while executing a complete distribution strategy.
Partnering with a fulfillment professional can help streamline all these efforts, but not all warehousing companies are created equal.
Make sure you do your homework before signing a service contract with just any fulfillment partner. Here’s what you need to pay attention to:
The first thing to do is to make sure your potential partner can actually handle all the things your store requires. Most fulfillment companies offer a basic set of solutions (warehousing, order fulfillment, and shipping), but the best professionals are those who go the extra mile. Work with a fulfillment company that also provides printing and branding support. The right partner can easily adapt to any obstacle that interferes with the goals of your fulfillment strategy.
An affordable service doesn’t mean settling for a cheap fix. You want to work with a professional who provides honest and quality work, but when it comes to pricing, it’s best to hire a firm that won’t break the bank. Ask for quotes and get details about service fees and financing options. Study each offer carefully and keep your eyes peeled for hidden costs. Give each company an idea of your budget so they can tailor a solution to your finances.
The closer the facility is to your customers, the shorter the distance your goods have to travel. Look for a fulfillment center that is centrally located in a high-traffic area. This can help shrink the delivery and get orders fulfilled much faster. If you own a business that ships products across the nation or on a global scale, you’ll want to partner with a fulfillment company that has multiple warehouse units.
Customer service is one of the most important things when cultivating a working relationship. If you run an eCommerce store, you’ll need to provide around-the-clock customer support in case something goes wrong with a customer’s order. The same goes for fulfillment companies. Find out how to get in touch with your partners and when they’re most accessible. The best companies to work with are those with emergency response hotlines. This ensures that someone is always available to help in case something disrupts your distribution.
Working with a larger fulfillment center introduces you to special shipping rates, which can help you save a fortune on all distribution efforts. Lower shipping prices leads to more products stocked and more money to set aside for other areas of the business. In addition, you’ll want to collaborate with a company that has a reputation for meeting deadlines, while delivering products in a quality fashion.
It’s one thing to ship your products to a physical location, but if you don’t have a brand that resonates with people, then good luck making a sale. A third-party fulfillment (3PL) provider should lend a hand in your branding efforts. The best partners can print custom labels. Do your research and find a partner that can deliver authentic packaging on a variety of materials.