Choosing a Fulfillment Partner

Short term – Long term

The Importance of Fulfillment as a Service is widely known in the corporate world. Especially nowadays when talking about rising fuel prices, courier occupation, prolonged delivery times etc. Choosing a Fulfillment partner correctly may save you potential problems in the future. It is important to keep in mind that the partnership may last a significant amount of time if operations are conducted successfully, and results are met. This means that sometimes, the long-term element must be prioritized over the short-term elements. For instance, sacrificing slightly by increasing your investment costs and choosing a correct, experienced Fulfillment partner may lead to better results in the long run. In this article, we will be providing you with the 5 most important aspects to look out for when choosing a correct Fulfillment Partner.

5 Key Elements to look out for

  • Experience and Reputation

If you choose an inexperienced provider that’s new to the industry, you run the risk of delivering a poor brand experience to your customers. The impression on the end customer is often directly related to Fulfillment performance. This increases the need to partner with a well-established, reputable company. It is vital that you conduct business with a company that has years of proven experience and staff that is trained and knowledgeable in all areas of the business. You could also seek reviews from customers that have a similar business model to your business. This way you will have direct feedback that enables you to make a more accurate assessment on whether or not you should choose this Fulfillment partner. Lastly, meeting the Fulfillment partner in person might reinforce the relationship which could lead to potentially increased problem solving in the future. Don’t disregard your companies’ reputation, choose a respectable Fulfillment Partner.

  • Seamless Integration

This element makes the initial set-up process much easier whilst also simplifying continuous communication by streamlining the information transfer procedures through, for instance, correct API (Advanced Platform Integration) integrations. Set-up should not be a hassle. An experiences professional Fulfillment partner usually has all types of integrations available that make your life easier. They sometimes offer real-time views in transport, inventory management, warehousing etc. Make sure to discuss this topic thoroughly before establishing your partnership to avoid the arise of potential issues in the future. When reviewing the integration possibilities, consider aspects such as Omnichannel Integration (price/delivery/transport/warehousing etc.), CRM/ERP platform Integration, Automated email communications etc.

  • Reverse Logistics and Performance

Fulfillment service providers sometimes also provide you with the option to handle the complete returns process. This could save you a ton of resources and time, if done correctly. The latter should be stressed as poor handling of returns may influence your brand in a strong negative way. However, if the returns are managed correctly, your brand image receives strong positive reinforcement. Reverse Logistics is thus an important element to look out for and should always be considered due to the high brand impact potential. Make sure to review the performance metrics of the Fulfillment service provider on Reverse Logistics in detail to avoid surprises. Also make sure to consider switching your current Reverse Logistics process. Professional insight should be considered. Openness to change is recommended.

  • Warehouse Locations

We currently live in an era that follows the golden rule of ‘the faster the better’. Of course, this is not always true, however, customers do expect their shipments to be delivered to them as fast as possible. 7+ days for delivery times is usually not acceptable anymore. The average delivery time within Europe is around 2-3 days. Experiences Fulfillment partners sometimes even offer same-day delivery, depending on your business model. Regardless, it is important to have knowledge on the Fulfillment partners’ infrastructure. Knowing where their Warehouses are located and even knowing traffic routes might validate the claims of delivery performance. If majority of your customer base resides in Spain it would be highly beneficial to choose a Fulfillment Partner that has a reliable transport framework allowing him to have high performance on deliveries to/from Spain. Future opportunities for market expansion should also be considered. If you are planning to ship worldwide for instance, it is important to discuss the possibilities with your potential Fulfillment Partner.

  • Brand reinforcement

It is often the small things that make a difference. Another factor that should be taken into account is the possibility for brand reinforcement. Customization is an important element that should be considered when choosing a Fulfillment partner. Providing the customer with a strong personal brand experience can have high positive impacts on customer retention and continuous purchases. Of course, it also increases your brand awareness and recognition. Look out for Fulfillment partners that offer you customization options. An example could be personal packaging. Allowing you to use custom packaging options may make the difference and give you a competitive advantage by providing your customers with the brand experience they seek. Brand reinforcement should not trump performance metrics, however, it still stays a valid element to consider as increased brand awareness will almost always positively affect your company.

These 5 key elements should be kept in mind when considering a Fulfillment partner to outsource your Fulfillment services. Would you like to know how more on how to choose a correct Fulfillment partner correctly? Talk to a ModusLink Expert today by clicking HERE!

Bibliography

Busby, A. (2019, 24 oktober). Fulfillment As A Service, Why The Future Of Delivery Is In The Clouds. Forbes. Geraadpleegd op 26 februari 2022, van https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbusby/2019/10/23/fulfillment-as-a-service-why-the-future-of-delivery-is-in-the-cloud/?sh=6b83309d4af1

business.com editorial staff. (2014, 25 juni). Benefits of Using an Order Fulfillment Service. Business.Com. Geraadpleegd op 2 maart 2022, van https://www.business.com/articles/benefits-of-using-an-order-fulfillment-service/

Roggio, A. (2011, 4 november). 5 Reasons to Consider Fulfillment Services. Practical Ecommerce. Geraadpleegd op 5 maart 2022, van https://www.practicalecommerce.com/5-Reasons-to-Consider-Fulfillment-Services

Thill Inc. (2021, 21 oktober). Fulfillment Center Pros & Cons. Thill Inc. Geraadpleegd op 5 maart 2022, van https://thillinc.com/blog/fulfillment-center-pros-cons/

3Pl, L. (z.d.).  7 tips for choosing a fulfillment partner. Logicos. Geraadpleegd op 5 maart 2022, van https://www.logicos3pl.com/en/blog/tips-for-choosing-a-fulfillment-partner

Lab, T. F. (z.d.). 8 Essentials When Choosing a Fulfillment Company + 8 Best Companies for 2021. Thefulfillmentlab. Geraadpleegd op 7 maart 2022, van https://www.thefulfillmentlab.com/blog/choosing-fulfillment-company

Roggio, A. (2011, 4 november). 5 Reasons to Consider Fulfillment Services. Practical Ecommerce. Geraadpleegd op 5 maart 2022, van https://www.practicalecommerce.com/5-Reasons-to-Consider-Fulfillment-Services