In choosing a potential third-party logistics (3PL) provider, there are important factors to consider before going into business with a fulfillment center. Factors such as the fulfillment center’s location, shipping rates, and timelines, as well as pricing, can directly impact the growth and success of your business. Prioritize working with a 3PL that cares about your company, and offers reliable, efficient service to your customers. Below are some guidelines on how to narrow your search based on your company’s needs when scouting for a fulfillment center.
6 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fulfillment Company
1. Shipping Rates
Something very important to consider when choosing a fulfillment center is the location of your customers in relation to the fulfillment center. Shipping zones are used by carriers to calculate service rates. The cost of shipping depends on how far a package travels between the origin and the destination. The larger the zone, the higher the cost.
In choosing a fulfillment center near the hub of your customer base, you can limit the costs for your business and customers. This creates a better experience for the consumer while building customer loyalty. This location of the fulfillment center also affects the speed at which your customer receives their goods.
2. Shipping Speeds
Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance when it comes to building your brand and growing your business. That starts with the delivery of your products. With the new norm being Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery window, modern consumers have a heightened expectation when it comes to the speed of their delivery. The amount of time between order and delivery is ever-shrinking.
In order to meet these expectations, you need to work with a fulfillment center that can deliver fast results. Communication is key: you need to be clear about your business’s needs and realistic with the timelines presented. This is the best way to find out if their services can handle your business’s promised shipping rates.
3. Choose Within Your Niche
So, you’ve narrowed down the location of your fulfillment center. To whittle down that list even further, it’s time to think about the types of products you’re selling and the centers that can best facilitate them. Certain fulfillment centers work with specific types of products. For example, if your business sells heavy machinery, you’ll want to work with a 3PL that can accommodate that size of inventory. To maximize efficiency and preparedness, look for fulfillment centers that have experience with the same size and nature as that of your eCommerce business.
4. Storage Fees and Rules
Many fulfillment centers strive for fast turnover, meaning that they don’t want to be storing your goods for extended amounts of time. Certain facilities will charge additional fees to hold products past a certain point, some will eject them from their facilities altogether. Look for a fulfillment service that offers low rates and fair time limits, so that you can keep your products safe and in one place, even during off-months. Should your goods be seasonal, you may want to look into utilizing a warehouse while demand is low.
5. Clear Pricing
Keep an eye out for hidden fees and prioritize choosing a fulfillment center that can provide clarity when it comes to costs. Certain questions to consider in terms of pricing are:
- Does the vendor charge extra for packaging (including dunnage, i.e. packing peanuts for safe transport of goods)?
- Are packing slips an extra charge?
- Is there an additional charge for customer service?
Be clear about what you’re looking for by having a list of questions pertaining to your business ready to go, before making any decisions.
6. Comrades in Commerce
It’s important to partner with a fulfillment center that wants to grow your business with you.
Ideally, as your business grows, they will want to adapt and expand alongside you. With both parties striving for success, you’re more likely to achieve well-executed service and long-lasting business.
Choosing a business partner can be overwhelming. When it comes to working with a fulfillment center, prioritize companies that are experienced and reputable, but also passionate about you and your business. Customer satisfaction is the key to any eCommerce merchant’s success. If you’re looking for a fast, reliable, and efficient way to get your goods into the hands of consumers, our eCommerce fulfillment companies can help. As your one-stop facility to house, fulfill, and deliver products, they can help increase customer loyalty and grow your business.