10 Step Checklist to Help You Choose a Fulfillment Provider
When choosing a good fulfillment provider, be sure to do your homework diligently and compare “apples to apples.” The fulfillment provider you select will have a direct impact on your company's success. You want to ensure that the fulfillment provider you choose is as conscientious of your brand integrity as you. Here are ten things to consider when choosing a fulfillment provider.
- Quantity vs. Quality. Choose a company that cares as much about your brand, your products, and your customers as you do. You’ll also want to choose a fulfillment center that has the necessary experience with your products to pick, pack, and fulfill orders just as you would if you were doing the order fulfillment yourself. Choosing the right fulfillment provider will decrease fulfillment errors, increase customer satisfaction, repeat business, and help grow your bottom line. Choosing a fulfillment provider that delivers mass quantities of your products but gets 1% of those orders wrong results in lost profits.
- Location. Choose a fulfillment provider that is located near interstates and major highways, airports, shipping ports, or train depots. A fulfillment provider that is located near these major transportation arteries will ensure that your products are delivered faster than your competitors’. Getting your product to the customer faster than any other may be the tipping point in setting you apart from the competition.
- Pricing. Make sure to get all pricing in writing and make sure payment terms are clear. How will you be charged for less-than-truckload? How will you be charged for extras outside the scope of your contract? Make sure the payment terms are clear, especially the late payment terms.
- Technology. Choose a fulfillment provider that uses state-of-the-art technology. You want to be able to check your inventory in real-time and know that transmitted data is fast, reliable, and secure. You want your customers to see their orders, track their orders, and know when to expect their orders. Finally, if you are moving a product that is adversely affected by unusual temperatures, whether that is heat or cold, you’ll want to choose a provider with a climate controlled warehouse.
- Security. If you want your products protected from vandalism, theft, fire, water damage, or extreme temperatures choose a fulfillment center that offers a great deal of security for your products and assurance that any losses are covered. The type of security used – security cameras, on-lot patrol guards, perimeter fencing, climate controls, employee access credentials – can make the difference in the protection and well-being of your products. The same can be said about network security, particularly if transmitted data between you and the fulfillment provider could result in the loss or interception of sensitive information.
- Seasonal peaks. Verify whether the fulfillment provider has plans in place to hire temporary or seasonal employees to handle the increase in business at various times throughout the year. Make sure the provider will be able to handle fulfilling your orders if your products tend to move rapidly during the off-season or non-holidays.
- Insurance. Ask to see the fulfillment provider’s insurance policy. Determine if your products are fully covered in the event of damage or loss, including theft, and be sure to study the fine print in the clauses provided to be absolutely certain you’re protected.
- Customer satisfaction. Ask for references, case studies, and speak to others who have done business with the fulfillment provider with whom you’ve chosen to partner. Be sure to browse the company website for customer testimonials. You may also want to search for any unsettled complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau to help in your decision making.
- Range of services. Choose a fulfillment center that offers a range of services such as warehousing, shipping, logistics, apparel services, ecommerce warehousing, order fulfillment, and 3PL services for both B2B and B2C. This is a fulfillment provider with which you can partner knowing it is capable of creating custom solutions to meet all of your needs.
- Longevity. Choose a fulfillment provider with years of experience in the business. Maintaining stability over the years and the ability to grow even when faced with an economic recession is an excellent indicator of good management skills and leadership vision.
Choose the fulfillment provider with the experience, location, pricing, security, longevity, services, and technology you seek. Choose DDI Logistics. For detailed information about our products and services or to obtain a free quote, contact us.