If you’re considering a move to a new order fulfillment provider, it may be tempting to choose exclusively on location, under the assumption that all distribution facilities are more or less equal. This can be an expensive mistake. Here are the eight factors you can’t afford to overlook.
Strategically Located Distribution Centers
The physical location of your distribution centers will impact everything from the cost of shipping to speed of delivery. Select a provider with at least one center near your primary markets, plus a large geographic footprint that can continue to serve as you grow. A provider with access to international facilities will greatly enhance your ability to expand.
Aggressively Negotiated Shipping Rates
The right fulfillment provider will provide access to economies of scale and aggressively negotiated shipping rates with all of the major providers (Fed Ex, UPS, and USPS, plus any niche or international carriers you will need access to).
Extraordinary Customer Service If you can’t count on your fulfillment partner to take good care of you and your customers, you’re headed for trouble. Expect your provider to give you direct access to individuals inside the company who can help you when you have questions and when problems arise, and to be highly responsive to requests for information.
Demonstrably Greater than 95% Order Accuracy
Nothing creates friction for a customer more than receiving the wrong order. When order volume peaks around the holidays, so can mistakes and frustration. Ask prospective providers to show you quality control statistics from the most recent holiday season, and expect them to be well in excess of 95%.
Long-term, Qualified Warehouse Staff
Theft, carelessness, and lack of understanding for the intricacies of your business are what happens when staff turn-over inside the warehouse is high. A long-term, dedicated and qualified staff will treat your business with greater care and respect.
During the holidays and other peak times, you want your provider to be able to scale their work force and operations up and down to meet your needs. Ask them how they handled the increased volume during the most recent peak volume period, and expect them to have a great history of managing these peaks with minimal disruption and maximum efficiency and accuracy.
Flawless Returns Processing
An easy, well-handled returns process can convert a one-time customer into a loyal fan. Additionally, how returned product is processed in the system, how it is assessed and sorted, whether the facility can perform refurbishments, and how product is returned to inventory or disposed of all impact your bottom line.
The WOW Factor
In the end, your fulfillment partner delivers the final customer touch with every transaction. A wrong order or poor quality package reflect badly on your brand, even if it’s not your fault. Look for a fulfillment partner that cares about your brand like you do, and will give your customers the WOW experience they crave—every single time.