If you have an ecommerce store, order fulfillment is a critical component of your business. Choosing a fulfillment partner can be challenging for even the most seasoned entrepreneur. There are a lot of options. But which one is the best? It’s hard to know what will work best for your business and that’s why we’ve compiled some tips on how you can find the right order fulfillment partner.
This blog post will cover 4 ideas for choosing an order fulfillment service provider, as well as things you should consider when making your decision.
1) Make a List of What You Need
Make a list of what your order fulfillment service needs to be. What are the must haves? Is it an international 3PL company that can handle customs and shipping for you internationally, or is it just standard domestic orders?
Do you need them to warehouse perishable items and periodically audit inventory?
Are you a subscription box service, and if so are they equipped to handle your needs?
Will they allow for custom packaging and inserts with their service?
Does their software integrate with your ecommerce platform? Being able to have orders sent instantly to their warehouse for picking and packing is a huge advantage over having to compile orders and email or fax them.
A smooth integration will also allow for easy, and real-time inventory management.
What about safety, do you need them to follow certain security standards?
2) Do They Handle Returns?
No matter how good your product, procedures, or third-party fulfillment partner is, there are going to be times where returns need to be processed. Sometimes the wrong product is shipped or a part of the order is missing. Sometimes something gets damaged in transit after it leaves the warehouse.
These things are largely out of your control, but how these situations are handled when they do arise can be the difference between having an unhappy customer leaving bad reviews online and having a loyal, happy customer for life.
A good order fulfillment service will handle returns for you, and many will handle the customer service side of things throughout the return and reshipment process.
Most will also provide order tracking information directly to your customers.
3) It’s Not Just Price
There is no doubt that the price of a service is important, but do not just jump to the cheapest option you find. Sometimes a service might be the cheapest for a reason. They might cut corners on training, customer service, and technology to keep prices down.
Saving a few pennies here and there may cost you dearly down the road.
4) Ask for References
You can ask for references and contact those companies to find out how they liked the order fulfillment service.
Ask about any problems that have come up or if there were specific things you should look out for, such as missed delivery deadlines or customer service issues.
Finding the right order fulfillment service is no different than any other service you might work with. It’s a good idea to investigate the experience of other customers and get their feedback.
5) Perform a Test Run
Before making the commitment to an order fulfillment service, you should be able to test them out.
Ask the order fulfillment service for a trial run of their services with your company and see how it goes.
If there are any problems or issues during this trial period, it will be a great opportunity to see how they handle such situations when they arise.
Despite doing everything you can to properly evaluate the service beforehand, you may find they are just not a good fit to work with. Better to find that out through a limited test run than after you have moved all of your inventory and fully committed to them.