The quality of an online retailer’s order fulfillment can make or break a business, so it pays to make sure you are getting the best fulfillment service on the market. A substandard fulfillment company that is not suited to handling your product can cause delays and frustration for you and your customers.
Does your fulfillment partner demonstrate flexibility in terms of order handling?
One common criticism of outsourced order fulfillment is that, considering the volume of orders and breadth of products that fulfillment centers must handle, there is no way they can manage the fulfillment of your specific product as well as you can yourself. Considering that the accuracy rates of good fulfillment services are generally over 99.5%, that criticism does not have much merit. What fulfillment services lack in specialization for your product they make up for in professionalism, economy of scale, and strong relationships with courier companies. That said, there is a need for some measure of flexibility when shipping certain kinds of products. How does your fulfillment provider handle certain kinds of packaging, marketing materials, or promotional requests? Do they allow you to brand your boxes and invoices? Make sure your fulfillment partner gives you the necessary leeway to ensure that every box you send out gets you the maximum return.
How much control do you have over your fulfillment?
One of the benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment is that you have professionals handling your fulfillment for you, leaving less for you to manage. That does not mean you should give up all control of your fulfillment process. The level of control you have will vary depending not only on what level of access your provider will give you, but also how much control they have over their own warehouses. Many fulfillment providers do not own and operate their own warehouses, outsourcing the actual warehousing operations. This means that you will never have direct contact with the people actually shipping your product, so make sure to ask whether your partner owns and operates their own warehouses.
The other aspect of control is technology. Top fulfillment providers have robust technology solutions that make it easy for you to keep track of and control the most important aspects of your fulfillment. For example, the ability to set low inventory alerts, different levels of user access, and visual reporting on which one of your products ships more than others. Just like your shopping cart system, fulfillment is, in a large part, technology based, so don’t skimp on functionality. Cloud-based technology is also a huge advantage, ensuring that you don’t need to be in the office to manage your fulfillment.
Finally, the most basic, and important, measurement of a good fulfillment provider is the level of speed and accuracy they provide. In the era of Amazon Prime, online buyers expect the option to receive 2-day shipping to anywhere in the US. It is essential that your fulfillment partner has the ability to implement that level of speed. Likewise, order accuracy must, at the very least, include a 100% accuracy guarantee.
If your order fulfillment service is inflexible, denies you control over your fulfillment, has inferior technology, or does not ship quickly or accurately, your customer satisfaction and profits will undoubtedly be affected. The speed and reliability of online fulfillment is one of the most important factors online buyers consider when determining where to shop.
Is your order fulfillment killing your online profits?