How to choose a logistics partner that’s right for your business
As your ecommerce business develops, you may find yourself juggling priorities: effective management of your stock and inventory, finding cost-effective ways to deliver on the needs of an ever-growing customer base, optimising the efficiency of your expanding operations – all while maintaining your company on a solid footing as it grows, accommodating to changing needs.
Instead of trying to fulfil all your orders in-house, selecting a third-party partner for ecommerce fulfilment can be a great way to manage and scale your company, allowing you to outsource logistical and storage operations to an expert provider and freeing you to better navigate an increased volume of business. But with so many different options to choose from, where do you start?
Order fulfilment services offer a much broader service than simply “getting it in the box and getting it out”; they are usually committed to meeting a wide range of different operational needs reflecting their diverse customer bases, and so a sophisticated list of solutions are on offer across the industry. To begin thinking about which logistics provider can offer the right solutions for your business, it’s worth thinking over:
What am I looking for in a fulfilment partner?
One of the most crucial deciding factors when choosing a logistics service provider is the kind of service you need; you need to know that your fulfilment partner is competent in all the service areas relevant to your needs. Do they have the resources and the know-how to accommodate you?
Pretend for a moment that your company sells a B2C meal-kit subscription service (think HelloFresh!). Naturally, your product is going to have quite different storage and delivery requirements from, say, a printed newsletter. You want to ensure that any fulfilment centre whose services you use has the necessary facilities for storing and transporting perishables; that they have the means to properly assemble the branded materials used in your kit, and that they are able to operate in full compliance with relevant regulations – especially if shipping internationally.
Given the highly connected world we live in, something else which will be paramount for you is your potential partner’s IT infrastructure – for visibility and reliable communication, tracking stock and make quick decisions without a host of phone calls, it’s indispensable in today’s market to have seamless IT connectivity in your operations. Many logistics providers offer a range of efficient solutions in this area, from the familiar human touch of a dedicated team to integration with your online store.
From end-to-end, the supply chain thrives when each participant works to optimise performance and work effectively with partners. When you’re choosing a fulfilment partner, you need to know that your account will be handled to the highest possible standard so that the customers who trust in your brand are getting the service that they deserve. A good ecommerce fulfilment centre will have an effective Warehouse Management System in place to maintain the accuracy and visibility of their service; they will facilitate your need to track orders and have access to important data in real time, and they will be able to respond rapidly and seamlessly to new challenges, whether a change in the volume of orders, disruptions elsewhere in the supply chain, or whatever it may be.
You need a partner with whom problems and snags can be caught quickly and resolved without hassle. Ultimately, the right logistics provider for you will recognise quality service – both to you and your customers – as a key element of what they do.
We all have friends, family, and even colleagues who have suffered a breach of their data online. Perhaps they’ve had money stolen, or had personal or business details used fraudulently. But just as much harm can come from accidental breaches caused by human error, and you want to ensure that any partner you do business with is duly diligent, and responsible to their client’s trust.
It’s true not only in ecommerce fulfilment, but across the business world: a company that doesn’t make a priority of safety and security in all areas just isn’t worth your time. All bases must be covered, from the safety of staff, assets and stock, all the way to cybersecurity, protecting financial information and safeguarding your data. A good fulfilment partner knows exactly what their responsibilities are, keeping up-to-date with changing industry regulations and willing to go above and beyond for operational security. You should expect nothing less.
One of the great advantages of taking on a partner to help with order processing and fulfilment is being able to take advantage of a whole new set of resources – warehousing facilities, staff, equipment, etc – without assuming financial responsibility, which gives you the breathing space you need to scale your company’s operations properly and manage its growth without taking on expensive risks.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering where else you may need flexibility. If you experience a significant change in your volume of orders, or if the demands of a particular project place constraints on your facilities or staff, or if your storage and resource needs change on a seasonal basis due to the nature of your business, you’ll need a fulfilment partner who can be ready with the solutions you need at the time that you need them.
So a final thought on selecting an eCommerce Fulfilment Partner….
Taking advantage of the smart solutions that an ecommerce fulfilment partner has to offer just makes sense: why stretch your operational capacity thin when you can bolster your warehousing, labour, and distribution with the help of a partner you can trust?
Using the four qualities listed above as a starting point, you should be able to find an ecommerce fulfilment partner that really fits for you. If you’d like to know more about outsourcing your order processing and despatch needs, reach out to our team today and let’s get the ball rolling. Hopefully you have a better idea on how important it is when selecting an eCommerce Fulfilment Partner, but also what key points to consider.