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Finding The Best Outsourced Fulfillment (part 1 of 2)

This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

Congratulations! Your eCommerce business has reached a point where you and your employees simply can’t keep up with the orders.

Although challenging and stressful, what that level of expansion means is that you’re really good at what you do. Unfortunately, if you want to keep doing it for a bigger crowd, you’re going to need some help. This is where a good fulfillment company can be your best ally.

Choosing just one of the many eCommerce fulfillment services available can be a challenge, but here are a few things to check before diving in:

Typical clientele. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually very important to choose a fulfillment company that understands your order quantities and type of business. Ask any potential logistics companies about its typical clientele, including the average number of shipments per week and number of products in storage. You don’t want your small company to be overwhelmed by clients who do 10 times what you do in sales, nor do you want to use a fulfillment house that isn’t ready for a business of your size.

Specialty fulfillment. There are actually several types of fulfillment houses, some specializing in things like literature fulfillment, while others laser-focus on eCommerce order management. Knowing that the company you’ve chosen is experienced in your niche and understands your needs ensures that you’re not constantly stressing over your outsourced fulfillment.

Multiple warehouse sites. No matter your product line, it’s vital for an eCommerce business to have national reach. Multiple warehouses mean multiple points for shipping — add a clever fulfillment team and you’re getting your products into the hands of your customers at the speed of Amazon. Faster shipping is the name of the game, but even if you don’t have enough orders to justify multiple warehouses right now, you should still hire a fulfillment company that does so you don’t have to start over when it’s time to spread out your shipments.

Statistics. No matter who you choose to do your fulfillment, mistakes will happen. How many and how the 3PL company will handle them is what really matters, so ask each company you’re considering about their accuracy level and average shipping time. You should also request access to your own shipping stats so you can ensure they’re in line with what you were promised. Those stats can give you a wealth of information you can use to improve your order process.

These are just the basics for choosing a fulfillment center for your eCommerce business. Watch for part two of this blog post, where we give you even more ideas for hiring your ideal 3rd party logistics (3PL) team.

 

February 17, 2015
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