You have your choice of ecommerce fulfillment companies these days, but not all of them are created equal, and not all of them are equipped to provide your business exactly what it needs. Below are five questions you should ask to be sure the partner you choose is best suited to helping your company grow and succeed.
#1 – What Do You Do?
These days, order fulfillment companies do much, much more than just order fulfillment. Some of them offer packaging services, others offer warehousing and inventory management, and still others will print marketing flyers and inserts to include with every shipment. Learning more about what a company actually does – and how those services can improve your business – will go a long way toward helping you make the right choice about your fulfillment partner.
#2 – What Kind of Experience Do You Have?
While it’s true that experience doesn’t always define a company’s ability to help you manage your orders and shipments, the truth is that it’s always best to have someone who has experience in your corner – especially if you are just starting out yourself. You’ll want to know what sort of systems your partner uses and how they integrate with your chosen platform, and you’ll even want to know about contracts they’ve negotiated with the world’s biggest shippers. Fulfillment companies with several years of experience are far more likely to offer better overall services.
#3 – How Flexible Are Your Services?
No two ecommerce-based businesses are exactly the same, and that’s why you should avoid any fulfillment companies that only offer cookie-cutter solutions. It’s always best to find a partner that will help you develop a service plan that suits your company’s exact needs. For example, maybe you only need your partner to pick and ship orders. On the other hand, maybe you need your partner to warehouse and manage your inventory. Find out what sorts of services the company offers and whether they can be tailored to your needs. Finally, find out whether those services are easily scaled as your company grows.
#4 – Can You Provide References?
Even if the company you’re considering has a decade of experience, if they don’t have experience in your industry, they may not be the right choice. Whether your ecommerce venture is in the vitamins and supplements industry, the health and beauty industry, or even in fashion, find a company that understands the individual nuances associated with that niche. Different storage, handling, and shipping guidelines apply to different things, and it’s important that your partner understands this. Ask for (and contact) references to learn more about each company’s capabilities.
#5 – How Do You Handle a Sudden Large Volume of Orders?
In the event that a product you offer goes viral and really takes off, it is important that your partner can handle the influx of orders without issue. Ask your proposed partner about the different technologies they use to ensure orders are picked, packed, and shipped on time, even during a huge influx. This will go a long way toward showing you their expertise and their capabilities, and it could very well make or break your business in the long run.
Ecommerce fulfillment partners are not all the same. Some specialize only in one industry, while others offer only a cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t take growth or individual needs into consideration. By asking these five questions, you can make a better overall decision that will benefit your business both now and in the future.