Your business has grown to the point that you and your small staff simply can’t keep up with everything. Obviously, you should focus your attention on the product that is driving that growth, but in order to preserve your brand, your customers’ experience needs to remain positive. It’s time to consider a fulfillment center. Choosing a fulfillment center is a critical decision. When things go wrong in the ordering process, or when the product doesn’t arrive on time, your customers will blame you, not some anonymous fulfillment center. So how do you make sure you’re choosing the best fulfillment center partner?
Know What You Need
You think that you already know what services you need from a fulfillment center. But that’s probably not true. Fulfillment centers offer a wide variety of services, and it’s important that you are well informed about what best suits your requirements. Fulfillment centers are much more than simply warehousing, order fulfillment, and shipping. What about stock monitoring? Would integrated technology between online ordering, inventory, and shipping be helpful? A fulfillment consultant would help you clarify exactly what you need in a fulfillment center.
Maybe what you need right now is simply someplace to store your inventory and a reliable, fast shipper. What about in six months? Five years? How you choose a fulfillment center should involve strategic thinking about your business future. When might packaging alternatives become necessary? Is there a time in the future where you can imagine assembly being outsourced? Trucking might be the best option now–maybe freight flights are in your future. Naturally, when your business grows your fulfillment center requirements change. A good fulfillment consulting company can help you plan ahead.
Do Your Research
Not all fulfillment centers are alike. Some factors that you must evaluate are: location, reputation, business-to-business interactions, and shipping options available. A fulfillment center near you may not be the most cost effective. An organization’s reputation is vital, and reading testimonials on its website may not be the best way to find out its genuine place in the industry. Your fulfillment center really needs to work in partnership with you, so communication is key. And choosing one of the giant shipping companies may not always be the best choice. There’s a lot of information to process. A good fulfillment consulting firm can help you navigate the complexities.
Look for Personalized RFPs
Once you have narrowed down your choices of a fulfillment center, you should have a number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Look at them carefully. Is the RFP a standardized form with only the name of your business distinguishing it from any other one? You should look for an RFP that indicates a thorough understanding of your business, its customers, and its goals. A personalized RFP shows you that the fulfillment center really wants to partner with you in enhancing your brand. A fulfillment consulting company can assist you in culling the RFPs to find the perfect fulfillment center for you.