Nowadays, fulfillment services have become an integral part of any company which sells its products to their customers via their website, phone or mail orders. A fulfillment vendor may help you in taking your orders, get them from warehouse shelves, pack them and ship to the appropriate consumers. Apart from this the order fulfillment services also take responsibility of handling returns and provide a customer care center to support their consumers directly. With all these benefits, an outsourced fulfillment may help you grow your business much effectively. Under such circumstances, choosing the right vendor becomes extremely important for any company to fulfill their orders effectively via such third party services. Here are 10 things to look for before hiring a fulfillment vendor:
One of the first things to look for while selecting any consumer fulfillment services are its credentials and awards received in the past. This will ensure that the company exists for some time and had done good work during the past. It could depend upon which type of commodity the company deals with. For example, if it deals with food items, it may receive an award for delivering high grade of commodity. Likewise, the vendor may have received awards for its quick and excellent delivery. Some are awarded for higher rate of accuracy in shipping the required products to their consumers on or before expected time of delivery. Such credentials will help you in understanding how well organized the vendor is and whether it is viable to rely on them.
2. Expertise and Experience
To help any company grow, it is essential to have firm expertise in the field. Even if you are choosing a third party fulfillment vendor, you will require to know whether they have expertise and experience in shipping the type of commodity related to your work. You may ask the vendor to provide you with some examples they dealt with in picking, packing and shipping the commodity you want to deal with and find out whether they can handle it easily. This will help you in finding out whether the vendor is ready for challenges faced in delivering the particular products. For instance, a catalog fulfillment vendor must know what items are listed and how to handle each and every article listed whether it is food, fragile products or durable.
3. Talk to Referrals
This is another way to find out if the fulfillment services offered by a vendor are appropriate for your business. Ask the company for consumer feedback and referrals. Talk to the referrals and find out about their overall experience in hiring the particular vendor, problems faced and whether the vendor was able to do the job with experience and accuracy. Though it is likely that the company will not disclose any negative referral or feedback, still you will get some idea of what kind of services are offered and whether they need to improve in a particular field.
4. Pricing/ Insurance
Pricing is an important aspect to consider before hiring any custom fulfillment services. Many companies provide hard to understand price structures to confuse people. These kind of pricing are generally not easily comparable with pricing of other companies and you may face some hidden expenses later on. It is therefore imperative to understand how much cost is involved and whether it is too high or too low as compared to other reputable companies in the field. Also find out whether the fulfillment company provides insurance against the loss of any product during handling. If so, what additional cost is involved in it?
5. Visit Their Location
If possible, it is always best to visit the location of any fulfillment house and physically check how they organize their work. By visiting their offices and warehouses, you will probably get an idea of how many employees are hired and get a feel of their work culture. Some consumer fulfillment services may have more manpower for taking special care of the items like checking labels of food items and handling fragile goods, while some may require lesser people and more technology to foster their business.
6. Commodity Type
Though the size of the facility of any fulfillment house does matter, but lesser people do not essentially count to a new or start-up business because the whole thing depends upon the type of commodity in question. Find out whether the type of commodity you want to deliver is well handled by the vendor and they have ample facility and technology to complete the task with maximum accuracy.
7. Managing Errors
Errors are much common, especially when extensive shipping and delivery is concerned. It is important for both you and the vendor to understand and take responsibility of the errors, if any. Speak to the company in advance on how to handle errors. This will help you in understanding how experienced the fulfillment company is in managing errors related to any certain commodity of goods.
8. Period of Contract
It is for obvious reasons that you have to sign a contract with the third party vendor. Some fulfillment companies may not require signing a contract but most of them do so to cover their risk. Under such condition, they may also offer reduced price for the term. Before signing any contract, make sure you have evaluated all the aspects of the vendor and have found it suitable for your business. This will help you in avoiding any loss or penalty due to discontinuation of the agreement.
9. Cost Reduction
Since in-house fulfillment services may involve many costs like manpower, storage and shipping, consumer fulfillment services can lend you a helping hand in reducing the costs to a great extent. Apart from this, it is essential to find out whether they can reduce your cost in other ways too. Some vendors reduce the printing costs by having an in house printing system, while some may offer savings on postage in shipping huge volumes by negotiating with freight carriers. You may also reduce your cost by finding a vendor who can ship a combination of your products to the consumers.
10. Financial Stability of the Vendor
A firm financial status of any order fulfillment company will ensure that the services offered by them are genuine and they will work well for you. Hiring a company which is financially not stable will not be able to take up the task effectively and may drag you towards loss. It is therefore vital to check the financial information made available by the fulfillment house before hiring to avoid unnecessary loss in business.