How to Find the Best Ecommerce Fulfillment Center For Your Online Store
The time is ripe for any retailer to engage a 3PL warehouse for e-fulfillment services:
A survey carried out by a typically non-online product seller found 54% of 1,000 respondents reported that they’ve shopped online at least once in the previous 12 months. These figures probably won’t surprise you until you learn that the survey was carried out by an organic online grocery store (source).
Convenience and speed drive the sales for e-commerce stores, especially for deals, niche items, and discounted goods. E-fullfillment warehouses are proving to be essential piece, or the backbone, of this retail revolution to ensure that your fulfillment ships as orders come in on time, every time no matter where your customers are located.
The convenience, variety and joy of next day delivery are proving more attractive to consumers across the globe. In keeping up with these changes in consumption, many e-retailers have changed their marketing strategies.
By offering web-only discounts, coupons, same-day delivery, they are trying to retain as many customers as possible.
During last years (2016) Amazon Prime Day event, some customers complained about not getting the deals they wanted, but the company reported an 60% increase in daily sales in the worldwide (up 50% in the U.S.A).
It seems the lure of free shipping is stronger than many care to admit.
With businesses like Amazon setting the bar so high, customers have developed high expectations regarding product quality and delivery.
Common Hurdles for Ecommerce Fulfillment When Using Third Party Logistics for your Fulfillment Warehouse
After product sourcing, efficient delivery is the second biggest obstacle that many small e-commerce businesses face. This stems from one basic mistake that smaller firms make; they try to maintain in-house control of every aspect of the business.
Micromanaging is only sustainable at the initial stages of a business. As the business grows and larger volumes are shipped, it becomes quite cumbersome.
To have a shot at constant growth, some operations simply have to be outsourced.
Unlike Amazon, your small business can’t dictate shipping costs to UPS or DHL.
You’ll have to pay what they ask until your volumes are massive. This becomes a larger expense when you have to ship internationally and handle different SKU variations. And unless you’re crowdfunding a new product, you should aim to always have inventory ready to ship on demand. With high customer expectations, it will be costly and disastrous to make labeling and shipping errors.
The prudent move to surmount these hurdles would be to enlist a shipping partner with a product fulfillment company.
By taking control of your shipping, a contract fulfillment warehouse allows you to focus on important tasks like marketing and product sourcing.
Without them you’ll quickly find that shipping is more than simply ‘picking up and shipping out orders’. Is it really the best use of your time picking and packing products yourself.
The gold standard in the dynamic ever changing space of order fulfillment is, of course, Amazon, with automation, same day delivery and multitude of other game changing options, Amazon single handedly changed the speed and service expectation for online order fulfillment.
For a detailed look at how Amazon fulfills their millions of shipments, the video below is worth a watch–it even, for the first time (when the video aired) gave most of America the first glimpse at drone delivery:
You can get this same level of capability when you ship with Amazon FBA
But, when your volumes increase or you want to have more control over your product, or ship internationally–outside of the Amazon ecosystem–finding the right fulfillment solutions can be hit-or-miss, because many business owners choose based on arbitrary factors.
At Floship, we recommend that the right provider for international fulfillment must have these qualities:
1. Clear Terms of Service
The business must spell out exactly what you’ll be getting. Finer points like the scope of the agreement and the exact charges for different services often get lost in the fine print. Don’t forget to clarify points like what minimum or maximum volumes that they will accept and what service guarantees you get as a customer (see Floship’s terms here).
2. A Flexible Infrastructure
Your business will encounter peak sales periods, or you may offer discounts which will lead to increased sales volume.
a) Can the distribution center handle the increased volume efficiently?
b) Do they have the equipment and expertise to process all your orders?
c) What if a customer places a custom order and wants it shipped overnight?
3. Verified Business References
Any business can be made to look good on paper. Before you choose a fulfillment partner, request verifiable data that supports their capacity claims. You can also ask if they serve other customers in your industry.
4. The Right Distribution Network for You
If you only sold products to customers on the East Coast, a fulfillment partner with warehouses in Maryland could be a good idea. But if all your customers are overseas, you’d be better off with one that had a more suitable distribution network.
5. Shopping Cart Integration
This can remove one of the biggest time wasters associated with e-commerce selling. Many small sellers have to compile sales made before sending a report to the fulfillment company. This process can lead to longer shipping times. If the fulfillment center can receive orders directly from your business and handle the packing and shipping on the same day, this can make quite a difference.
6. Space for Growth
If you have any plans of adding new product lines, the fulfillment center you choose must be able to cater to this growth.
These six point are essential for any fulfillment company you may be considering working with.
The added cost of using a product fulfillment solution may cause some merchants to gasp. But the efficiency gained more than makes up for it. When it’s all said and done, customer satisfaction is what makes a successful business.
At Floship, our focus is on you as a customer and how we can help you serve your customers better.
Whether you’re crowdfunding a new product idea or you already have an established product, our aim is to help you get your product in your customers’ hands quickly from one centrally located fulfillment center.
To find out more about how Floship can help you grow your distribution, shipping and e-commerce ability with online ecommerce fulfillment services, you can apply to Get a Quote here.