Order fulfillment can be a challenge for some businesses. You need employees with adequate product knowledge, someone who is experienced with all of the shipping carriers, and someone who can ship packages on time. As a business grows, many decide to turn to outsourcing their order fulfillment needs. Outsourcing allows them to focus more of their resources on the aspects of the business that only they can do best while getting help where they need it most. It also reduces overhead costs like rent and utilities since the company doesn’t require an office or warehouse space anymore.
If you have made the decision to partner with a third-party logistics company to handle your order fulfillment, here is a checklist for you to help prepare for the migration to outsourced order fulfillment.
Get Your SKUs Together
One of the first things you are going to want to do is get all your SKUs together and organized. The SKUs are unique identifiers assigned to each of your products.
This is vital information that you need to provide the third-party logistics company in order for them to ship your products on time and accurately. It helps identify each product in any order, across multiple orders, and across different channels.
Read this article for more information about determining your SKU count.
Which Products Will You Be Shipping?
Will you be outsourcing the order fulfillment of all of your products? Just the top sellers?
Sometimes it makes sense to keep a portion of your order fulfillment in-house. For example, perhaps you have some products with special storage requirements that would be difficult for the order fulfillment company to provide. Another example would be if you have some products that are custom made or include options like engraving.
In those cases, you would need to handle the fulfillment for those orders while outsourcing everything else.
Know the Shipping Cutoff Time Each Day
The shipping cutoff time for your new order fulfillment partner might be different than you are used to. While most providers have a cutoff time of 12 p.m., here at ShipBuddies we provide a late cutoff time of 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You may need to adjust your website platform to make sure customers are being provided with the right expectations.
Domestic Versus International Shipping?
Will you require only domestic shipping? Do you also ship internationally? International shipping obviously is more expensive and will add to the ship time. Make sure you discuss this with your provider as they may have negotiated rates with the shipping carriers that will make your shipping significantly less expensive.
Is There Extra Work Required When Your Inventory is Received?
If there is any extra preparation or manipulation of your inventory required when it arrives at the warehouse, you will want to prepare clear instructions for this. Does it need bundling, special labeling, or any other kind of sorting after leaving the manufacturer?
Does Your Inventory Have Any Other Special Requirements?
Does your inventory require climate control? Are hazardous materials a part of what you sell, requiring special hazmat certifications for shipping and storage? These are things you will want to discuss with any prospective provider and make sure they can meet your needs.
Can They Integrate With Your Sales Platform?
If you are still in the stage of choosing the right fulfillment partner, one thing you will want to discuss with them is whether or not they can integrate directly with your sales platform (i.e. Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc.)
This is an important step in ensuring accurate order fulfillment without any mixups. If you are still using spreadsheets to manage your orders, you might want to consider moving to a more automated solution like ShipBuddies which integrates directly with all of the main sales platforms and marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.
A direct integration also greatly speeds up the order fulfillment process and makes the setup much easier for you.
Is the Fulfillment Company Transparent and Upfront About Their Pricing?
This is of course important with any type of service you are looking at. Make sure the provider is clear when discussing fees. Ask your order fulfillment provider up front about any additional charges that might apply during the process of order processing.
Ready to Get Started?
Looking for a partner that can provide the accurate order fulfillment your ecommerce business requires and your customers deserve? Our simple process and transparent pricing allow you to focus on growing your business. For a free consultation, give us a call at 1-800-674-3441 or fill out this short form to request a quote.