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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Do you offer returns processing? It is usually most efficient when the fulfillment company can handle this part of the process as well.
  6. Are your employees incentivized to meet performance metrics? Employees that are compensated appropriately will perform better.
  7. Can we visit your facility for a tour? If the answer here is no, consider another company.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Describe the inventory management controls you employ? While fulfillment companies may use different controls and metrics, there should be a system in place.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.