11 May 13 Important Questions to Ask When Choosing a Fulfillment Partner
The decision to outsource fulfillment can be a difficult one. The growth of e-commerce and the changing purchase habits of consumers, however, means that fulfillment of orders must be quick and flexible. Trusting a third-party with your company’s orders means doing the research to find the one that will fit your needs efficiently and cost-effectively.
The following questions should be asked before deciding on partnering with an outside fulfillment company:
- Do you offer flexible pricing options based on overall business volume? If your business volume shifts throughout the year, based on season, this is especially important.
- Do you charge for system integration or system customization? Technology is the cornerstone of fulfillment operations, so make sure their systems will fit with your business.
- Do you provide an online dashboard tool and activity reporting? This is a must as you need to know what is going on with your business at all times.
- Do you ship internationally? If you plan to expand internationally or are already global, the fulfillment company needs to have experience in the rules of international shipping.
- Do you offer returns processing? It is usually most efficient when the fulfillment company can handle this part of the process as well.
- Are your employees incentivized to meet performance metrics? Employees that are compensated appropriately will perform better.
- Can we visit your facility for a tour? If the answer here is no, consider another company.
- What level of IT support do you provide? If there is an IT issue, you will need someone to help on the fulfillment company’s end.
- What value-added services do you provide? Some fulfillment operations do provide additional services to help your business – tell them what you need up front to make sure they are a good fit for you.
- Describe the inventory management controls you employ? While fulfillment companies may use different controls and metrics, there should be a system in place.
- What are your order cut-off times? This is important to know so you can let customers know when to expect their order to ship.
- How quickly is inbound product received into inventory? You don’t want any product that you send to sit around for days, delaying order fulfillment.
- Do you provide a dedicated account team for my business? If there is a problem, you want to know you have a contact that can help.
These questions will give insight as to the type of fulfillment operation the company runs. Doing research before outsourcing to a third-party fulfillment company will ensure a successful partnership.