Ecommerce For Beginners
- Published: Friday, 29 July 2016 01:40
- Written by Jake Rheude
Product delivery is the lifeblood of a strong e-commerce business because it’s the only way to get your goods into the hands of your customers. Picking the right fulfillment provider to ensure that deliveries are successful and on-time can be a nerve-wracking ordeal if you don’t know the right questions to ask up front.
Here are six different things you might want to consider when choosing the right partner to store, pack and ship your goods.
Accurate inventory levels, order receipt and verification, and order processing should all be in the guarantee beyond the traditional promise of on-time shipping. Most fulfillment companies will make these promises, so it’s best to look at how they plan to deliver. That can be the latest tech, simple integration with your e-commerce store, and information on their fleet or partners.
Another smart point of comparison is how failures are handled. Your customers will want to be compensated when something is late or missing. But, those problems harm your reputation, so you should be compensated too. Look for a fee payment that goes to you if an incorrect shipment is sent out; this fee should offset your shipment costs so that all of the work is done at the cost of the fulfillment provider.
Established Relationships and Customer Satisfactions
Ask any potential fulfillment provider for references and reach out. These conversations are required because they will know how well the fulfillment company protects their brand. As an e-commerce business, your customers will only see your face. They’ll never know who is really packaging, preparing and delivering the product. You will be the company who receives the accolades or the hatred when a product isn’t delivered properly or when packaging is beautiful.
High-quality fulfillment providers will work with you to ensure that you are always delivering a great customer experience. This collaboration starts with verifying your inventory levels to meet demands and moves through the entire process down to the final delivery.
Clear and Competitive Costs
Price comparisons can be tricky, especially if you have unique products or shipping volumes that vary. Ask all potential fulfillment partners for their cost estimates based on your average order. Follow that up by asking about volume discounts, extra fees and monthly costs that aren’t based on your shipping volume.
A smart price estimate to get for comparison is what’s called an “accessorial charge.” There are charges that some will add if you ask for a special request in packaging, such as shifting to a different filler material or wrapping for unique items. It’s a good point to compare because some companies will include such adjustments in their base costs, while others will have a specific price schedule for these requests.
Most industries have strong and weak seasons, and many are subject to market spikes based on local, national, and global markets. Some cycles are easy to understand and predict, while others may strike without warning.
If that market variability is part of your business, ask about options to increase both warehousing space and fulfillment staff as needed. Find a vendor who can meet fluctuating demands and ensure that your time to market isn’t limited by their minimal resources.
The Safety of Your Goods
Sometimes the biggest worry e-commerce businesses have is how fast their goods will get to their customers. But, your goods need to stay safe while sitting in a warehouse waiting to be ordered.
Ask your e-commerce fulfillment provider about their security systems, if your goods will be in a climate-controlled environment, who has access to the site, and what kind of inventory management and control systems they use. The more they spend on protecting your goods, the safer you can feel.
What About New Markets?
Strong fulfillment partners can make a world of difference when you’re looking to expand into a new market. They allow you to ship all of your goods to a single location, and then your partner disseminates your goods everywhere else. You’re only managing a single shipping lane and, if working with a trustworthy partner, can ensure you’re meeting all local legal requirements without any interruption.
Judge everything else based on that metric. If you’re confident that a fulfillment company would be a reliable partner when you move to a new region, then you’ve found a partner you trust enough to work with in any market.
About the Author
Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development & Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment company and order fulfillment service dedicated to providing their clients with the highest level of total value. From simple pick, pack, and ship operations to custom kitting projects, Red Stag is hear to serve all of your order management needs and help your business grow for years to come.