Choosing the right fulfillment center partner can make a world of difference. The right partner can keep your business flow running smoothly, offer timely advice for growth, and offer a high level of customer service that will make everything seem easier.

On the other hand, selecting a partner who falls short in capabilities and performance can be troublesome. Excessive time on your end is spent on managing the process, customer service issues arise with frequency, sales growth is slowed, and soon, you’ll be looking for another business partner. Selecting the right partner in the first place is key.

Factors When Choosing an Order Fulfillment Service

1) Short term and long term business needs

Whether you’re in the ecommerce fulfillment services market or looking to outsource fulfillment for kitting assembly and pick and pack, there’s a range of services that modern fulfillment centers offer.

Some of the services you may be considering now or in the future might include:

Ask yourself, why do I need a partner? What specifically am I going to ask them to do now and in the future? What might I ask them to do? Is this a partner I can trust? Is this a partner I can grow with?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this team have the size and scope to handle my business?
  • Can they handle seasonal peaks of activity?
  • Is the company financially sound?
  • What is the company’s reputation?

2) Customer Service

Depending on the services you ask of your fulfillment service, you might be asking them to handle your inventory, your customer relations and your brand. This relationship partner needs to be one that you can trust.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will you have quick and easy access to someone you trust?
  • How good do you feel about your day-to-day manager?
  • What level of confidence do you have in senior management of the company?
  • How well do your contacts communicate?
  • From your interactions with contacts at the company, do you get a good sense that they understand customer service and the importance of it?

3) Experience

Newer organizations are sometimes working out the kinks of handling various clients. Do you really want an organization with limited experience working on your business?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How long has this organization been in the fulfillment business?
  • Does this organization have experience in your industry? If you sell clothing, does your potential partner have the processes in place to warehouse hundreds of SKU’s, and can their customer service deal with a high return rate?

4) Technology

Technology drives the fulfillment business in this day and age. A fulfillment company that plans and implements the right technology effectively is faster, more efficient and can provide a much higher level of service than others who have not made the technology investment.

Clients will be able to take comfort and peace of mind in understanding that their business transactions are being handled with care in a timely manner. Technology enables client managers to be more productive in their jobs as they’ll enjoy an easier monitoring process.

An organization that implements effective technological solutions is able to adapt to variants like which shopping cart you’re using, and also, more likely to partner with you to customize solutions for your specific business needs.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How quick has the fulfillment company been able to adapt and add new technologies?
  • As you tour the facility, does this look like a company that is good on the technology front?
  • How comfortable is the organization with EDI?
  • How automated are their systems?
  • How strong is their reporting?

5) Customer Centric Approach

Does your potential partner rely on just one approach for all clients or can they cater to your specific needs? Your business might encounter some unforeseen challenges down the line. It feels good to work with partners that can address these types of challenges head on.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Has this organization kept up with the times or do they employ the same processes and systems for addressing your business needs as they did 10 years ago?
  • Can they problem solve?
  • How satisfied are their clients? Do they keep clients for a long time or is it a leaky bucket where clients come in, but don’t stay long?

6) Full Service

Working with a fulfillment center that can handle a series of tasks from one location can make your life as a client a lot easier. Can your fulfillment company offer warehousing, kitting and assembly, picking and packing and more? Even if you don’t need the complete array of services now, as you grow, you might want to consider this. Working with a partner that you can grow with is a big advantage.

Full service is also nice for shipping options. Based on your product lines or your customers’ tastes, having the options to ship USPS, FedEx or UPS is good to have.

Outsourcing with a fulfillment center that provides a variety of shipping options will make your customers happy. It provides them the freedom to receive their items quickly or within the standard range. Find out if your prospect ships with FedEx, US Postal Service, and/or UPS.
Ask yourself these questions:

  • What services does this fulfillment company offer? Are there any holes?
  • Could my company grow with this company?

7) Value

A strong fulfillment company can save you money with accurate processing, sophisticated technology and quick turnaround times. Ultimately, you’re looking for a business partner that you can trust with your products, with your customers and with your brand.

This is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Do your due diligence. Meet in person on location, take a tour, and understand what your potential fulfillment partner can and cannot do. Look at past performance – are clients happy and do they continue to work with the company? How good do you feel about the folks you’d be working with? Is this an organization you can trust?

Putting the right partner in place on your business can ease your mind and free your time up to work on other pressing challenges of your business.

Look for a strategic partner in fulfillment. Can your fulfillment company provide strategies and tactics to save you money and grow your business?

Point B Solutions, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a third party logistics (3PL) fulfillment center serving clients across the country. We offer pick, pack and ship services, Shopify integration, warehousing, kitting and assembly, and ecommerce services. Our customer service, attention to detail, and technology-oriented systems and processes have enabled us to grow successful partnerships with B2B and B2C companies.