You sell something.
Someone buys it.
It gets shipped to him.
He gets the right item, on time.
With the right logistics partner it can be just that easy. But not every fulfillment company is in tune with the needs and business objectives of fast growing ecommerce retailers. And not all logistics solutions are going to be there for you at every stage of your company’s growth, or work with you to make sure each package arrives on time with the correct products inside. Here are the reasons you must consider your logistics team as a partner in your enterprise and not just an outsourced vendor:
You get what you pay for: It is typical for e-commerce businesses to fixate on price. It is understandable for them to want to cut corners on fulfillment services, to invest in other aspects of their business. Yet, when it comes to warehousing and logistics services, a thrifty choice at the outset is likely to end up being a very expensive mistake in the long run.
The cheapest provider will likely skimp on customer service, meeting its service level agreements or any kind of help with warehousing solutions. It won’t offer you guaranteed, on-time shipping with your orders filled correctly. Here’s where your choice gets expensive: your customers will become unhappy when shipments are delayed or they open their boxes and find the wrong items. You’ll be losing money fast and your cheap warehousing and logistics services will become very expensive when your customers leave in droves. Research shows that nearly 30% of your customers will never re-order from your company if they receive an incorrect order. When it comes to your business’s reputation, cheap is definitely expensive.
You’ll find out if you’re really ready for logistics: Some e-commerce order fulfillment services will even take your money and then outsource your shipping and fulfillment to an even cheaper provider. The right company with years of experience and ownership of its resources will take the time to ask the important questions to make sure you’re actually ready to take the leap. The world is full of start-ups bursting with excitement about their latest product and chomping at the bit to get merchandise out the door. The problem is that they’re still struggling with the basics of getting their company off the ground. The right logistics company won’t want to chase you down to find out when you’ll be sending your next shipment to the warehouse or wait patiently while you’re still trying to disentangle yourself from a previous logistics company that you’ve outgrown or found unsatisfactory. A logistics company is a partner, not just a vendor and that’s a two-way street.
It will offer business-saving customer service: You may think that customer service is an unnecessary frill – until there’s an emergency and you’re on hold with a warehouse somewhere in the Midwest and no one is picking up the phone. Some logistics companies just take your merchandise, store it in one of their warehouses and that’s the last time you ever have contact with it again. That’s all fine and good – until your biggest customer needs to pull 50 extra-large T-shirts out of a box and replace them with mediums. You should be able to pick up the phone and get in touch with a dedicated person at the warehouse where your items are stored. Otherwise, you’ll be holding your head in your hands knowing that the wrong shirts are heading out the door and you’ll have to pay for the return and reorder – especially when it could have been prevented by a phone call.
Growing with you: When your logistics company is a partner, it’s there for the life of your company. Once the business relationship is formed, it can help you with the best shipping, warehousing and fulfillment solutions for when for you to grow quickly from 250 units to 25,000 units a month. It improves your bottom line, helping you save on shipping and other fulfillment costs.
And top notch e-commerce order management software brings the most important information to your fingertips and keeps you moving seamlessly forward. Is your logistics company committed to an ongoing investment in technology? If they can’t tell you how they are improving the speed and accuracy of their order fulfillment every day, you should walk away. Most importantly, the right logistics company is investing in growth and development on an international level.
Go global: If you can’t fulfill orders beyond North America, you may be missing out on millions of customers. If your fulfillment company works well for you in the US but stumbles in Europe and places limits on Asia and South America, then you need to determine if it really is a good long term investment for your business. Before you dream about shipping to Japan, you must feel confident about where your business is and how it’s getting to where it needs to go.