10 things to look for in a fulfilment service provider
Editors Note: Expert content needs expert content writing and Yorkshire Powerhouse is pleased to publish this business advice article on order fulfilment services, kindly written by real experts in their field – our corporate sponsors, Cloud9 Fulfilment.
Please consider contacting Joshua and the team at Cloud9 Fulfilment with any order fulfilment needs you may have in mind – just click on the advert links above or below – and please mention Yorkshire Powerhouse if you do make contact.
You may know what a fulfilment service provider does or how they work. However, do you know what to look for when choosing the perfect fulfilment service provider for your business? Regardless of the size of your business, here are the key factors to consider:
1. Bespoke, Flexible and Adaptable Storage
Custom-built facilities are easily optimised for the specific storage requirements of your business. Fulfilment providers that offer this adaptability take the best care of your products. This can range from varied storage volumes for small and bulky items, to specific storage conditions. For example, hanging storage for clothing, or temperature-controlled storage for perishable goods. Flexible storage solutions are cost-effective for adapting to seasonal order volumes across the year.
2. Secure and well-maintained facilities
Security and storage conditions are major concerns for businesses. As such, the location of fulfilment centres is important to consider. We would suggest looking for centres under constant surveillance with high-resolution cameras. An extra consideration here is if all footage is stored in the cloud. Whilst the option of restricted-access areas can provide extra security for high-value goods. Well-ventilated facilities that are dry, dust-free and temperature monitored are optimal.
3. Digital Warehouses
The speed and accuracy of processing online orders are instrumental to customer retention. In-house fulfilment does not scale well and often lacks the use of cutting-edge technologies and software. Fulfilment partners with industry-leading warehouse management systems can optimise your operations. A key thing to look for here is efficient inventory management. This can deal with large product ranges, multiple SKUs and batch control. A digital approach to fulfilment can completely remove human error from the picking and packing of goods. This guarantees an extremely high accuracy order rate.
4. Super-fast Delivery
Established fulfilment providers have access to fast delivery with premium carriers at competitive prices. This can be crucial to driving down delivery costs both domestically and internationally. A key consideration should be the availability of late cut-off times to keep up with the demands of consumers and platforms like Amazon Prime. Same-day dispatch from premium carriers, allow you to rapidly and completely meet customers’ requirements.
5. Multi-Channel Integrations
It can be difficult for businesses to navigate the diversity of sales channels and eCommerce platforms. Fulfilment providers, with expert teams, can provide bespoke eCommerce solutions for every situation. Through this, you can have the confidence of all your orders being received as they are made. Regardless of the platform, look for fulfilment providers that offer software setups and integrations
Transparency across all operations can be game-changing. Fulfilment providers that offer end-to-end tracking allow you to see the real-time progress of every order. This is the best way to maintain complete visibility and total control over your stock, 24/7.
7. Bespoke Packaging Solutions
Packaging is important for developing brand identity and unique customer experiences. When outsourcing fulfilment, look for companies that can provide both partner-branded and non-branded packaging solutions. Expert packing teams are well equipped to securely package goods of all shapes and sizes, as well as bundle and kit building.
An increase in environmental awareness, especially issues of biodegradability and health hazards of plastics, has driven the adoption of paper-based or recycled products and packaging. A sustainable fulfilment provider can lower the emissions of your goods. Especially with packaging that is minimal in material/plastic use and maximises the safe delivery of products
9. Bespoke pricing
It is invaluable to find a fulfilment partner that has supporting growth as a core value. The reason for this is their pricing is as bespoke and flexible as the services they provide. It is essential to consider storage charges, with only being charged for the space you use being optimal. This provides flexible pricing to adapt to the changing needs and requirements of your business.
10. Expert teams
People make business: companies that put people first get ahead. Fulfilment providers that do this attract the best and get the best out of their staff. Experience and expertise across the fulfilment process are invaluable benefits of outsourcing fulfilment. This can range from safe handling of dangerous goods and the technicality of their paperwork; to dealing with couriers, customs declarations and legal issues. An experienced fulfilment partner can use their expertise at every step to optimise your operations and provide an excellent customer experience.
There is a lot to consider when choosing a fulfilment service provider. With this guide, you now have the knowledge to grow your business and optimise your operations.
If you ship products to customers then there comes a time when ‘doing it yourself’ is actually holding your business back! Concentrate on GROWING your business and outsource your order fulfilment operations to experts who have the infrastructure and skill to let you deal with taking more sales!
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