How to Find High Quality Fulfillment:
It Isnt as Easy as it Seems
The most recent holiday season showed just how critical the warehousing and fulfillment function is for online retailers, as even some of the most well-known brands struggled with shipping delays and missed deadlines. From storing inventory to preparing and shipping orders and handling returns, fulfillment companies play an instrumental role in the e-commerce customer experience, delivering either a wonderful post purchase delight or a headache that will significantly reduce the chances of repeat orders. Because of the critical nature of the distribution function, companies must take great care in determining who to choose as an outsourced fulfillment partner. There are a wealth of companies out there to choose from, but as much of the data shows, not all fulfillment companies are created equal.
Recent Study Gives Insights into Fulfillment
According to a recent study conducted by FulfillmentCompanies.net, a significantly high percentage of companies aren’t satisfied with their current fulfillment processes. In fact, the majority of the respondents of the survey (53.15%) stated that their feelings ranged from moderately satisfied to extremely dissatisfied with their current fulfillment arrangement, indicating a great need for improvement. On the bright side, the same study found that 46.85% of companies were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with their fulfillment processes, giving hope to a solid logistics solution and proving that many logistics companies are hitting and exceeding performance targets. Furthermore, outsourced fulfillment tends to give companies a higher potential for success than in-house operations, as the study revealed that fewer companies were extremely dissatisfied with outsourced fulfillment than with in-house fulfillment.
How to Ensure You Choose the Best Fulfillment Company
With the stakes so high for delivering a fulfillment experience that will help differentiate your brand from the competition, and with so many companies struggling to find satisfaction with current fulfillment operations, it’s obvious that the selection of a fulfillment company will be a make or break decision. Just how do you select the best company for your organization? First, performing the standard due diligence is very important in fulfillment vendor selection. For example, checking references, touring the facilities, validating certifications, combing through the contract, demoing the technology and walking through the firm’s processes and procedures will prove extremely beneficial. In particular, check to see if the company has standards for performance that are measured regularly – including receiving efficiency, inventory accuracy, order and shipping efficiency and effectiveness, among others. Second, go beyond standard due diligence by checking for “organizational fit.” Is the fulfillment company’s culture a good fit with your business? More importantly, do they have specific experience with your product or companies with similar products?
Many companies walk into the outsourced fulfillment world with little knowledge and a bit of a false sense of security of the quality of the industry. In other words, many companies have the false perception that fulfillment and shipping should be easy so “any company” could do it well. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Furthermore, you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to fulfillment. While the provider shouldn’t necessarily charge an arm and a leg for services, they will have to afford technology enhancements and higher quality labor pools to provide a consistently high level of service. By taking your time, performing appropriate due diligence, and by adequately realizing the true stakes of the game, you can find the right fulfillment partner for your business for the long haul.