Choosing the right fulfilment supplier
Running an e-commerce business means you probably put a lot of effort into how your site looks, the shopping experience, marketing your products and reaching your target audience. But what goes on behind the scenes is just as important. Once you have orders coming in, it is vital that they are reaching your customers in an accurate and timely manner.
Outsourcing your order fulfilment process could save you money and time, but if you are looking to outsource this portion of your business, then no doubt you want to know you are getting the best service for you and for your customers.
Fulfilment services are the process of getting the products you sell online to your customers who have ordered it. So this covers picking, packing and delivery of online orders, and this process can either be done in house or can be outsourced to another company that specialises in such processes. A third party logistics company will ensure that your supply chain runs smoothly and that your customer has a positive ordering experience. So how do you choose a suitable fulfilment supplier?
Entrusting another company to fulfil orders takes a lot of trust, so selecting a supplier who will make you feel at ease about handing over the process is vital. Here are some key things to consider when choosing your order fulfilment service provider.
- Experience/ Reputation
Firstly it is important to do some research on potential vendors to gauge their reputation within the industry. Do they have any case studies that are similar to your business? Do they have credible testimonials? Price plays an important role, of course and we will go into that in more detail, however a proven track record of high quality customer service and years of experience go a long way.
No doubt you are looking to outsource your order fulfilment so that you can grow your business by handing over the order process in order to concentrate on other areas. Therefore it is vital to know that the outsourcing service is scalable and can grow along with your business.
A great fulfilment service will allow you to send orders automatically from your e-commerce platform to make it as seamless as possible. This kind of software should also update inventory and keep track of stock levels. These simple automated processes are designed to make your sales process much easier and involve as little input from you as possible.
Every provider you look into will have a wastage or ‘shrinkage’ allowance, which simply refers to the amount of items which get lost, stolen, broken or damaged. This allowance will usually be translated to a percentage in your contract with the provider and of course the lower the percentage the better.
A distribution centre that is located close to major routes is obviously preferable as they will have more direct routes to major cities. If the fulfilment centre is situated near docks or ports that is even more of a bonus as they will offer quick access to shipping routes too.
Price is, of course, one of the most important factors but it is important to remember that it an investment for your company for the long term. Check for fees that could impact you and your business in the future if you decide to scale the operation further, as this is a commitment for long term goals.
All these elements are worth considering when choosing the right fulfilment provider for you. If your ecommerce fulfilment is insufficient then it can slow the growth of your business which is the opposite of your intentions if you are looking to outsource in the first place. Take the time to research possible fulfilment providers and ensure that they will be the right fit for you and the future of your business.