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What to Ask a Potential Fulfillment Company (Part 1 of 2)

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

A successful ecommerce business is built on a variety of strategic decisions.

From your website URL and your customer interface to your shopping cart program and email marketing campaigns, each and every decision can contribute to or take from the future success of your business. However, before you focus on the structure and the marketing of your web store, you need to figure out how you’re going to provide the products that you are selling.

That’s where a fulfillment company comes in. Ecommerce fulfillment companies are an ideal choice for any company that is handling 100 or more shipments per month. With their help, you can get the inventory, packing and shipping components of your business expertly handled so you can focus on website optimization, customer service and advertising portions of your business.

However, before you agree to work with a fulfillment company you need to do your due diligence. Finding a reliable provider that can keep your customers happy, your orders fulfilled and your profit margins within reasonable range isn’t easy – but it is possible. Here are essential questions that you need to answered by any potential fulfillment company so you can make the best decision.

  1. Where are you located? Ecommerce opens up your target market to anywhere in the country – or even across the globe – but your products still need to get from point A to point B. An established fulfillment company should have at least one good location to be able to serve your domestic and international companies in a timely fashion.
  1. Is there a long-term commitment? Ideally, you’ll want to find a fulfillment partner that can go the distance with you – but to start you’ll want to test them out. Be wary of any company that requires a year or more commitment to begin with. Unless you have very specific fulfillment needs or specialized ordering procedures, they might be able to provide you with an initial trial run. The trial run will give both your company and the fulfillment company a chance to determine if it really is the right fit.
  1. How much are your services and what exactly do I get for that price? There’s typically not a standard flat rate that you’ll pay for services – but a fulfillment company should be able to give you a ballpark cost for your ordering needs, and details about what monthly costs are and what they cover. Monthly recurring charges can be based on multiple variables. Give your potential fulfillment company as many details as possible about your needs so they can provide an accurate quote for specific services.

You can read more in part two of this two-part series here.

December 04, 2014
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