Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Outsourced Fulfilment Partner

Choosing an outsourced fulfilment partner to take control of all your fulfilment needs is important and can’t go ignored.

Outsourcing order fulfilment can give your business a competitive advantage. The right fulfilment partner can improve customer service, cut costs and help you stay ahead of competitors with full supply chain management, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the business.

First of all, is outsourcing your fulfilment the best option for your business?

It is a difficult decision to make – is your order volume high enough to outsource? You might believe finding the perfect fulfilment partner requires too much effort. Are you worried you will chose the wrong one and get stuck in a rut? You mustn’t fear handing over control to a 3PL company if they have your best interests at heart.

The right fulfilment partner can help your business grow all while providing a great and trusting service. Sharing your business goals and aspirations with the fulfilment team is a must if you want to get the best service.

Here at Bray Solutions, we have the questions you definitely need to ask your future fulfilment partner:

Do they have experience in your line of products?

Some products require special attention from a fulfilment partner. Clothing, shoes, electronics, and toiletries are all products that need extra attention. Fragile glassware and products that are likely to spill are at the top of the list if not handled with care. Whichever you need, you must ensure that your fulfilment team can give you the service you desire.

Our recommendation is to look for a facility that has handled your type of product in the past.

Shipping cost considerations.

Do you want to offer your products across the UK or worldwide, at a reasonable shipping rate? You need a warehouse with multiple locations or the capacity to hold and ship products across the globe. Because these 3pl providers are sending volumes of products out across the world, they will have preferential rates in which to pack and ship.

Will they merge with your website?

The whole idea behind outsourcing your fulfilment is the fact it relieves the burden of you having to organise orders. You will, therefore, need your provider to work alongside your ecommerce platform so they receive automatic updates when orders are placed. If not, you will still be heavily involved in the process and find yourself duplicating work which increases the risk of something going wrong. An experienced fulfilment provider will have technology and processes in place to not add to your admin to-do list and to receive orders from your shopping cart as smoothly as possible to their order management platform. Beyond that, a 3pl partner should be able to provide you with real-time access to your inventory and order information.

Do they have a committed account manager?

A dedicated account manager will act as a member of your business, allowing to have one specific point of contact for any questions you might have. They also make the time to become familiar with your business expectations to ensure everything runs smoothly in the warehouse without you having to have too much involvement.

Do they offer a service guarantee?

Service guarantees are now an industry standard. So if that answer is no, walk away.

The service agreement should include how quickly your orders will be shipped and what happens if orders are not met within the time predicted.  They must be willing to put their promises in writing and to follow through should something not get sent out in a way that was agreed.

What size is your warehouse?

Every company wants to grow. It’s ideal to find a warehouse that is big enough to suit your needs and possible growth. Not too big that your products are lost in a mass of others. The right fulfilment partner will have the ability to adapt to your needs as it grows or reduces in general and seasonal periods. Ask them whether they have the capacity to hold your desired amount of products.

Is there a long-term commitment?

The recommended option when signing on the dotted line is to ensure it is a short-term renewable agreement or a month-to-month contract rather than a long term contract just incase something goes wrong or you do not like the service provided. You should never sign a long term contract unless there is a way out if needed.

How secure is your data?

We have all heard the horror stories of stolen consumer information, with the NHS being a prime example. Your fulfilment partner should only collect the data needed to perform their service, anything else is unnecessary. They also are obliged to explain how long that information is kept, who has access to it, and what their privacy policy is.

The key thing to remember overall, is that outsourcing to a fulfilment partner is supposed to save you time and money. You don’t need to have a huge amount of fulfilment to consider outsourcing. Setting up a warehouse, along with product management and shipping, outsourcing remains the least stressful option. Let Bray Solutions manage your warehouse needs to ensure a stress free supply chain, allowing you to focus on promoting your business.

Bray Solutions can answer all of your fulfilment questions. Call the team today to find out more.