Starting to outsource your fulfillment of online orders can be a bit tricky, especially for small businesses. A lot of fulfillment companies will not work with small business that cannot meet sales or shipment criteria. Companies will also hit you with monetary penalties for not meeting your monthly quota. Fortunately, here are some tips that can save you the headache of making the wrong choices when choosing a fulfillment company for your small business.
Ease of Use
How simplistic is your fulfillment company? You are going to want a company that makes things simple. Your company should have a platform that can be used at a glance or with just a small amount of training. With everything else you have to worry about, fees, set-up, and use are the last things that you will want to worry about.
Do a little bit of research and check out a few companies. You will want to be sure their platform is a fit for you and their needs. You also want to be sure that you can handle the operation of their software. The simpler it is to use the better.
Make sure your online order fulfilment vendor is flexible. You will want a company that can accommodate you and your small business. A few things you should consider is whether or not your business will be locked into a contract that is long term. Making sure you can change vendors is a must for small businesses. Especially if you find a company that is a better fit for your business.
Another consideration should be minimums purchase or shipping quantities. You want to be sure that your fulfillment company doesn’t have minimum orders or fulfilment quotas you need to meet each month. For a small company meeting these quotas could be difficult especially if you are a start-up. Penalties and stress can be added for not meeting monthly quotas.
Know Their Systems and Procedures
Making sure your company is completely transparent is a must. Some companies may have the attitude that since the fulfillment is part of their business you do not need to know what is going on behind the scenes…wrong! This portion of the business is very important. They are handling the heart of your company, getting the product to the customer. This needs to be an easy process and one you can rely on.
Be sure you have 24-hour access to your orders and the progress of those orders. That way you can help avoid problems before they arise. You should also have access to your inventory at all times. Be sure you know and are clear on how the orders are processed from beginning to end. This will help when working within your companies mission and vision.
Can You Count On Them?
Make sure the company is reputable and has a great rating with the Better Business Bureau. Be sure to ask about their accuracy rate, how they handle returns, and retention of staff. Do they have a lot of calls about wrong or missing products? If customers are not getting what they paid for, they will stop shopping with your company. Poor service is the number one reason for discontinuing patronage to a business.
Is it difficult to get an order corrected if it is wrong or the customer doesn’t like the product? Customer are usually okay with mistakes or products they don’t like if the return policy is uncomplicated. The easier it is the better it is for your business.
Is their staff experienced? This is important because workers will get frustrated and leave if there is an unreliable system in place or they become frustrated. If there is a high turnover rate in their staff, it is likely that there is not a lot of experience in their company. Having a knowledgeable staff to work with will make your job of running your business easier.
The most important for you and your business is whether or not you can afford the service. Meaning, is this option allowing you to make a healthy profit on the products you are selling? Do they stand behind their service so that errors are not costing your business money? Be sure there are no hidden costs as well. A number of companies have a lot of fine print regarding the price of their service. Be sure you know what you are paying and what it is for.
After these considerations here are a few companies that may help you on your way to success.