Many fulfillment services exist for e-commerce store owners and it can be a tough task finding the one that fits your business best.
After all, lots of providers may offer the low cost you crave, but lack the quality your customers require. Others might have top-notch service and fulfillment options, but make you pay dearly for it. So how do you decide which company is the best bang for your buck when outsourcing your fulfillment?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to choosing the right e-commerce fulfillment provider for your business.
Understand Your Company’s Fulfillment Needs
Every e-commerce outlet is different. Some have large product lines with thousands of unique product numbers. Others may still be in the infancy stage of their business with only a handful of products. Will you need warehousing space for your products? How about the picking, packing and shipping services that many fulfillment companies offer?
Are you selling anything that requires high-value cargo insurance or special logistics services? Make a flowchart of your supply chain and determine your current fulfillment processes.
Is Outsourcing Fulfillment the Best Option for You?
If you’ve just opened an e-commerce shop and you’re trying to establish yourself in the online marketplace, handling fulfillment yourself may be your best bet. Taking care of your own fulfillment minimizes costs and allows for plenty of packaging customization. This will enhance your customer’s unboxing experience. Outsourcing fulfillment is an option for any type of e-commerce business because fulfillment providers are equipped with the resources and processes to ensure higher order accuracy, more accurate inventory, faster receiving times and inventory visibility, per Evans Distribution Services.
Contact Several Companies
When you start making calls to see what fulfillment companies provide and how those will fit your business, make sure you’re contacting more than a handful. Do your research online and try to find as many reputable fulfillment companies as you can. The first call you make could leave you feeling like you’ve found your fulfillment partner, but it’s best to make additional calls to be sure.
Equally important as fulfillment services is the cost of those services. Try to find the best value for what you need to ship. For example, if you sell electronics and need specialized packing, shipping and insurance, maybe it’s worthwhile to pay a little more for fulfillment. If you’re not shipping anything fragile and any solution will do, don’t let a fulfillment company price gouge you with fancy bells and whistles.
Compare Fulfillment Service Offerings
Your customers will dictate which services you need more than anything. Remarkably, 80 percent of consumers want same-day shipping and 55 percent are willing to pay a premium for it, yet 47 percent of retailers don’t offer it. Slow shipping has proven to cost e-retailer sales too — as46 percent of online shoppers abandon shopping carts due to shipping times that are either too long or not disclosed.
How Much Decision-Making Influence Will Your Business Have?
Some fulfillment services have one way to operate and if that doesn’t fit your e-commerce business, then too bad. Others will let you customize everything; from how the product is packed, what it’s packed in, how it’s shipped and how quickly it delivers. Do you want to be hands-on or hands-off with your fulfillment?
Will You Need to Implement Their Technology? Can They Use Yours?
Most, if not all fulfillment companies offer some sort of software system along with their services. Some will allow you to sync your system into theirs. It would be best to get a look at a company’s system before marrying your e-store to it sight unseen.
How Much Access Will You Have?
If you decide to use a fulfillment provider’s software system, determine how much access you’ll have to your e-store’s data; like inventory, packing and shipping information. You should also have access to your fulfillment company day and night in case an issue develops outside of normal business hours.
Will Your E-commerce Business Outgrow Their Capabilities?
If your e-commerce company is growing at a steady level, look for a company capable of scaling with your company as it grows. If your fulfillment company can’t keep pace with your advancements, you’ll have to go through this process again.
Research Each Company and Their Customer Reviews
According to IM, your fulfillment provider should have several years of experience and a good reputation for dealing with all the special needs of your products before they’re delivered to your clients. If the fulfillment provider handles their job professionally, clients will have a positive image about your business.
Make Your Decision!
This is a lot to digest, but considerable thought should go into choosing your fulfillment provider. Due diligence throughout this process will payoff as far as profits go, but a good fulfillment provider can ease a lot of the stress that comes with running an e-commerce business. When in doubt, refer to this step-by-step guide to choosing the right e-commerce fulfillment provider and you should make an informed, sound decision.