The eCommerce industry is estimated to experience unprecedented growth over the next few years. This is mainly due to the fact that more businesses than ever before are moving online.
Interestingly, not everybody knows what to look for in a fulfillment company when outsourcing. Let’s explore all the key factors that you need to take into consideration when making your choice.
Location of Fulfillment Warehouses
The closer warehouses are to your customers, the less of a chance that complications will arise. This is particularly true for companies that handle international orders.
To elaborate, let’s assume that you get orders from China on a regular basis. If you don’t have fulfillment centers in or near China, you’ll need to ship overseas every time you fulfill one of these orders.
This creates an opportunity for various contingencies. Some of the most common are order delays or damaged products.
By minimizing the distance that your orders travel, there’s a strong chance that you can reduce potential complications. So, keep this factor in mind when moving forward.
For those who are unaware, packaging plays a large role in customer satisfaction. In fact, there are even people who create content for social media platforms that focuses on the unboxing experience.
Unfortunately, you may end up eliminating this enjoyment entirely by working with the wrong fulfillment provider. In general, you’ll want to avoid partnering with someone who only offers generic brown boxes.
The same can be said about a provider that only offers the minimum possible quality when it comes to packaging.
It’s in your best interest to work with a provider who offers different branding options. This will help ensure that customers have a unique and satisfying experience when they open products from your brand.
Otherwise, you run the risk of having them turn to a competitor that has branded packaging.
Available Shipping Speed
Taking shipping speed into consideration is similar to how you should look for a provider with well-placed fulfillment centers.
Many people are now used to the two-day shipping that Amazon provides. In order to compete with larger companies like this, you’ll need to ensure that you include this as an available option.
However, whether or not you are able to facilitate this shipping speed will depend on what fulfillment partner you work with.
As you might guess, making your customers wait a minimum of 5 to 7 days before they receive their product is sure to deter them. Not only will this decrease your overall revenue, but it will also make it more difficult for your company to scale.
By choosing a provider that offers fast shipping speeds and has strategically-placed fulfillment warehouses, you can ensure that your products get to the customer’s doorstep as fast as possible.
This term refers to the amount of information your fulfillment partner provides both to you and customers. Put simply, you should always be able to obtain insight into every detail of the fulfillment process.
Additionally, customers should have the opportunity to track their order and determine its current location.
For someone who is anxiously awaiting their package, few things are more frustrating than having no idea where the packages are or when they are going to arrive.
Your fulfillment partner should also quickly convey any delays that occur. The scenario you want to avoid is having a customer discover that their two-day shipping order has not arrived by the third day.
How They Manage Returns
No matter what level of customer service you provide or how good your products are, you will experience returns. People may decide they no longer want the item, or they may have ordered it by mistake.
If your fulfillment partner is not efficient at managing returns, though, you may encounter complications during these scenarios.
Instead, the company you work with should handle returns quickly and effectively. This means refunding the initial payment and even paying for their return shipping.
In some cases, your partner may even ship a replacement item for free.
Return policies will vary significantly between providers. Be sure to inquire about them when looking for a fulfillment partner to work with.
The Overall Cost
When it comes to outsourced order fulfillment, you typically get what you pay for. This means that you should always avoid working with the cheapest possible option.
However, there are other costs that you should be aware of. These include ongoing maintenance fees, penalties for failing to meet minimum order requirements, etc.
The good news, though, is that you can reduce costs in other areas by working with the right partner. Fulfillment providers are often able to negotiate shipping rates.
You can also experience discounts for shipping a large number of items at once.
Many people are unaware of the difference between third-party order fulfillment and drop shipping. However, it’s essential that you understand the discrepancies.
You can check out this resource to learn more now about the key attributes you should keep in mind about both.
Working With the Right Fulfillment Company Is Essential
Otherwise, you may find that you encounter issues with your sales numbers and customer satisfaction. The above information will help you narrow down your decision when choosing a fulfillment company and hire the one that is best for you.
Want to learn more useful info that can help you out in the future? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog.