Fulfillment Centers are Not All Equal
- Category: Blog
- Published: Monday, 09 October 2017 10:58
- Written by Tim Leverett
All pick and pack fulfillment is not the same. And, since your product mix and requirements are unique, it’s important make sure the capabilities of any fulfillment center you outsource to align with what you need.
Many fulfillment companies claim to be able to do it all, but the best service comes from those having specialized experience with certain products or types of businesses. Being ‘an inch deep and a mile wide’ doesn’t work. This means in most cases, the primary criterion a company should use for choosing a fulfillment company is simply whether or not they have experience in your industry.
Outsourcing should be a carefully made decison, but looking for this type of specialization enables you to have the confidence your products will be picked, managed, and shipped correctly. Your customer’s experience stands to gain as well because a fulfillment partner who understands them is also accustomed to dealing with the typical issues that come up.
Any credible fulfillment company will be able to provide you with examples of customers they are servicing. Some industries, like retail, ecommerce, and healthcare are changing fast, so make sure the examples are current.
Here are three other things to keep in mind to make sure you are working with the right fulfillment center.
Non-standard items often require additional support and services. For example, medical products may require special handling or even a clean room where orders are assembled. Other types of oversized items can incur additional handling and shipping fees – costs that are avoidable with better planning for things like packaging design and how the carrier is chosen. There are plenty of obvious implications that can come out of these situations, but many others are less obvious and only understood by companies with experience.
Order and Inventory Management
As important as packing and shipping products is a fulfillment company that can accurately track inventory and orders. A provider’s technology and processes for order management needs to be able to handle your business rules and reporting requirements. A simple example is a company with a large number of SKU’s must work with a fulfillment house that is able to manage the large volume, accurately, within their systems – this is not something that can be taken for granted.
Range of Services
Sometimes fulfillment isn’t all you need. A company with items that are sold and packaged together, but manufactured separately, must be co-packed or combined in some way. Not every fulfillment company is set up to do this kind of work – not to mention other projects like shrink wrapping, labeling, banding, or small assembly. If one of these services is a need of yours then finding a partner with experience can provide the flexibility you want. A fulfillment company that has experience in these areas should also be able to offer the most competitive rates for the service – and be more efficient at it compared to doing it yourself.
A 3rd party fulfillment center who has knowledge of your industry can provide better service. Yes, you still need to focus on cost – but the support, technology, and awareness of the ‘unknowns’ can be even more important.