Order fulfillment is a critical component to your overall business operations. If you are experiencing signs that reveal your current eCommerce fulfillment operations are in trouble, it’s time to Get Smart About Your eCommerce Fulfillment Center.
1. Define Your Short-term and Long-term eCommerce Goals
Evaluating your current eCommerce fulfillment center will help identify areas of improvement that can be accomplished in the short-term and the long-run.
Short-term goals for your operations may include:
- Cutting down on shipping times and shipping costs
- Improving order accuracy and reducing returns
- Decreasing customer support response times
Long-term goals for your business may include:
- Lessening the strain on internal departments (accounting, customer service, and operations)
- Expanding fulfillment operations into multiple facilities (ex. east coast and west coast)
- Expanding product line to allow for additional SKUs and inventory
Discuss these items with your potential fulfillment center to determine the timelines for implementing solutions that will best support your goals and continued business growth.
2. Evaluate the Fulfillment Provider’s Expertise within Your Market Niche
Although eCommerce retailers often get lumped into one group, there is a huge amount of diversity in the types of products sold over the internet and their fulfillment needs. Ask your potential eCommerce fulfillment center about the industry verticals they pick, pack and ship. If you have a specialized product or need customized fulfillment processes, look for providers with similar clients. Many eCommerce fulfillment centers are specialized with robotics and equipment designed to handle specific types of products. Asking the right questions will help you identify both strengths and weaknesses.
For example, Warehouse A works closely with clothing retailers, Warehouse B works closely with large, heavy goods, and Warehouse C works mostly with small electronics. Each of these eCommerce fulfillment centers will be likely to have greater know-how on special handling of their serviced market verticals. Each warehouse will be better equipped to store the different types of products. For example, hanging storage for clothing, ample storage for large goods, or secured storage for high-value electronics. In addition, the employees will have experience with handling and packaging your products with greater efficiency than an inexperienced firm.
3. Select a Fulfillment Provider that Aligns with Your Vision & Values
The mission of a company will often provide clues regarding the future success of your business partnership. When choosing a fulfillment center, focus on creating a long-term partnership that will benefit both parties.
Look to partner with an order fulfillment company that has a business model built around principles such as continuous advancement, professionalism, and maximizing customer satisfaction reassures your best interests will be looked out for.
4. Assess the Level of Flexibility and Personalization Available
This is important, especially for growing businesses whose business model evolves over time. Determine the extent to which accommodations can be made as your business evolves and your order fulfillment needs change.
Not all fulfillment centers are capable of accommodating changing needs on short notices, something which is crucial for growing businesses. Large-scale facilities with streamlined operations and abundant resources can better handle stressful situations that will help your growing business succeed.
5. Confirm the Provider’s Levels of Customer Support and Communication
Your first interactions with a provider will give you a glimpse as to what it will be like working with them further down the road. During your inquiry or quote, keep the following questions in mind:
- How quickly did you receive a response?
- How knowledgeable was the representative in answering your questions?
- Did the fulfillment provider take the time to get to know your business?
Open and proactive communication is key to a successful transition and managing day to day operations. Having a dedicated client support team committed to providing expert support tailored to your business will make all the difference in a truly successful partnership.