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Top Ways to Cut Costs in Fulfillment: For In-House and Outsourced Services

How to cut fulfillment costsStaying within a budget is likely a fact of life for your business, despite maybe overstepping those boundaries on occasion. Part of this might relate to an important business aspect: Fulfillment.

If you’re doing fulfillment services in-house, the costs are no doubt already overwhelming. It’s not a recommended process if you’re still a small business that needs some help to grow.

Then again, maybe you’ve reached a point where your company is large enough now to handle some fulfillment duties. Do you know how to keep your expenses in check so they don’t run out of control and create financial jeopardy?

Even if you outsource your fulfillment to a third-party warehouse, expenses could still balloon if you don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. In this case, staying closely communicated with the fulfillment center is imperative to know exactly what your expenses are.

Here’s top ways to cut costs in fulfillment for both in-house and outsourced situations.

Start With an Audit

No matter if you do fulfillment in-house or outsourcing to a fulfillment center, you need to start with an audit to see where you could cut expenses. Auditing helps better determine what your business needs are so you see where to cut if you’re spending more money than necessary.

What you needed last year is perhaps different this year, meaning any tech you invested in then could maybe become eliminated now to save money.

Areas where you could cut or reorganize in-house or in a warehouse include direct and indirect labor, outbound and inbound freight, occupancy, and packing materials.

Your Receiving Costs

This is another cost usually associated with working with 3PL warehouses. Accepting and verifying deliveries of your inventory is a typical process in warehousing, though they’re going to charge you a fee for the service. The problem is, the fee is perhaps higher than you’re willing to spend.

It’s all the more reason to vet a fulfillment center before you start to work with them to compare their receiving fees.

Using Shared Space

A shared space warehouse can cut costs considerably, especially if your own in-house fulfillment is becoming impossible due to lack of space. Some fulfillment centers offer shared space warehouses to accommodate more than one client.

Doing so eliminates having to lease out space on your own to accommodate your growth. The shared space service also cuts costs considerably since you’re sharing costs with others. At the same time, you’re getting a warehouse that keeps you up on the latest fulfillment changes.

More Advanced Technology

Not all state-of-the-art technology is expensive, though the investment can save you money in helping to speed up deliveries. However, using advanced tech through an outsourced fulfillment center saves you on overhead investments.

Many warehouses that outsource give you a fixed rate while you still enjoy the latest technology to assure your customers get deliveries sooner than later.

Using What You Have in a More Productive Way

Sometimes you can save money by just being more productive with the things you already own on-site. It’s possible to do the same with a warehouse you partner with year-round.

By getting as much productivity out of what you already own, you’ll come out ahead, though you need to look carefully at various things. Areas like effective product replenishment, slotting practices for picking, efficient inventory management, quality assurance, and automation systems are just some things to streamline for savings.

Automation is a growing area in many industrial areas, and it reduces your work force costs while placing less burdens on existing warehouse staff.

Contact us at insightQuote to use our FulfillmentCompanies.net service to find the perfect fulfillment center that keeps costs at a minimum.

Reasons Why Consumers Abandon Shopping Carts and How to Rescue Them

No purchaseIf you run an online business, you know that one of the most important steps in the process of selling goods is having customers check out their shopping carts. After all, this is how you sell your goods and make money. However, many times, shoppers will just abandon their shopping carts, leaving you out of luck.

As a good businessperson, you recognize that losing profits like that is a problem and that you should change things to reduce this issue. Many times, customers have interesting, important reasons why they left their shopping carts — and there are clear ways you can change your system to have customers check out more and generate more revenue. So here are common reasons why consumers abandon their shopping carts and some ways that you can rescue them.

Why don’t customers check out?

Often, customers will leave their shopping carts because they are unhappy. However, there are many different reasons for this. For example:

  • Customers are unhappy with their experience on your site. If your website takes a long time to load, is littered with confusing advertisements, or is just unappealing, customers may leave to find a different online vendor. If losing customers is a major problem for you, this is one of the first things to check.
  • The checkout process is too complicated. If your online checkout process involves putting in lots of digits or answering many different questions, customers may leave to find a more streamlined system.
  • The checkout process seems unsafe. Similar to issues of complication, if a customer does not feel that their personal information like their credit card number is not going to be adequately protected, then they will take their business elsewhere.
  • You don’t accept enough payment options. There are very good business reasons to only take certain credit cards or other payment methods, but not all consumers have access to all of these. Therefore, some might try to find other vendors who will take the payment options they have available to them.
  • Your delivery options seem weak. Shipping is a hassle for most people — it costs too much or it takes too long. Not every online business has enough cash flow to offer free two-day shipping, but with the rise of Amazon, consumers are beginning to expect it more and more. This leaves an online business owner in a predicament — how much can you offer without hurting your bottom line?

How to rescue your customers’ shopping carts

Each of the issues we just discussed, while important, has a relatively easy solution, which can help you maximize your online business’s sales.

  • Keeping your website up to date. If you keep your website regularly updated with the most recent features and styles, you can keep your customers happier with their experiences. And if you struggle with a slow loading page, the easy fix is to look into your website hosting and fix the issue.
  • Addressing your payment options. Often, increasing the number of payment methods you take will lead to more sales over time, putting off any increases in payment processing costs. And if your customers seem dissatisfied by your security offerings, increase them or more clearly show them how exactly your are protecting their information.
  • Improving delivery options. This is the most difficult issue to solve, simply because it costs the most money. But if you can afford to speed up shipping or reduce prices, that can generate more sales. But you could also add additionally shipping options, where customers get their goods faster for a higher price, helping to alleviate and subliminal concerns.

There are many reasons why customers leave their online shopping carts, and many different ways to help improve your customer throughput. If you have any further questions, simply contact us here.

5 Ways To Speed Up Fulfillment

Making Fulfillment Faster in 2017The foundation of success for a fulfillment company is efficiency. Failure to focus on improving efficiency can result in order delays, low levels of customer satisfaction, and client abandonment. Below are five strategies to help you speed up fulfillment and delight your customers.

1) Adjust inventory in accordance with your promotions. Most commercial businesses launch seasonal or product-specific promotions on a regular basis. One of the best ways you can speed up fulfillment of these orders is to position promotional items in an easily accessible area just before you launch your promotion. Or, if you have movable shelving or racks, you can relocate the shelves containing the promotional items to an area close to your picking staff. Once your promotion comes to a close, you can move the promotional products back to their original location and use the closer locations for your next batch of sale items.

2) Arrange your inventory according to velocity. Every fulfillment company has products that move faster than others. These products are known as high velocity items because they have a faster cycling speed than the average product. You can expedite fulfillment by placing these high velocity items in a convenient location. Tips for organizing high velocity items include the following:

  • Make sure high velocity items are located within easy reach (on lower shelves)
  • Arrange high velocity items on shelves that are close to the order preparation and shipping area
  • Reserve top shelves and remote warehouse locations for your lowest velocity items

3) Employ kitting or pre-assembly when appropriate. Kitting is a strategy that expedites the order preparation process for products that are sold with a variety of standard accessories. For instance, a portable massaging device includes a standard accessory package that features a carrying case, spare electrodes and a tube of conductive gel. You can expedite order preparation by preassembling or placing the carrying case, electrodes, and gel with the massaging devices in advance of order placement.

One note of caution: You should not prepare too many prepackaged orders because some customers will want to buy the accessories individually since they are often consumables. Make sure to leave some spare accessories on your inventory shelf so you do not have to disassemble the complete kits that you prepared in advance.

4) Consider bundling products that are often purchased together. The fulfillment industry is ripe with purchasing trends. One key trend is the tendency for customers to purchase two or three different items together. Here are a few examples:

  • Customers who invest in a costly grill also tend to buy a weatherproof cover
  • Doctors who buy a patient monitor often need a compatible mobile stand
  • Customers who purchase a dog collar frequently purchase a matching leash

In the above cases, order fulfillment can be expedited by positioning the two products that are purchased simultaneously close to one another in your warehouse. This strategy reduces picking time and facilitates organization.

5) Continually enhance your sorting process. Order fulfillment improvement should be an ongoing process that is dictated by the nature of your business and the various product lines that you sell. There are many ways that you can sort orders. Some of the ways of batching orders include sorting by zone, SKU, line items, or product line. Sorting by SKU is one of the most popular ways to organize orders because it minimizes the frequency with which pickers need to visit the location to retrieve items. Sorting by product line is a strategy used by companies that sell a variety of product lines.

Clearly, the fulfillment process is highly tractable. By employing the strategies above, you can consistently expedite fulfillment and increase customer satisfaction. We invite you to contact us to learn how we can help you adopt fulfillment strategies that will help you improve your fulfillment process and build a loyal customer base. We look forward to hearing from you!

How Long is a 3PL Fulfillment Contract? A Look at Different Agreement Lengths

Different terms of a fulfillment contractFinding a 3PL warehouse can frequently turn into a protracted process without some vetting guidance. While finding a fulfillment center that’s right for you could become a lengthy process, working with one may go on longer. When you choose a warehouse, you need to figure how long you’re going to work as partners since that’s exactly how you should look at your relationship.

All of this occurs through the contract they give you. Many of these contracts vary in length, though what you choose could affect the future relationship with the warehouse.

Basically, 3PL contract work on a month-to-month process, yearly, or multiple year agreements. The lengthier contracts are sometimes beneficial if you find a warehouse you know is going to help you grow. It’s not to say long-term contracts don’t have some disadvantages if you think you’ll want freedom to move elsewhere.

So how long is a 3PL fulfillment contract, and how long will you work with yours once you find a quality one?

A Month-to-Month Contract

You may prefer going this route instead, especially if you’re worried about being locked in to a long-term agreement. Not all warehouses are going to lock you in, but you may need to negotiate if they do.

With a monthly contract, you’ll have to update it regularly for revised agreements. As many warehouse contract analysts note, one of the first things to detail in your contract is the services provided by the carrier. All of these might need revising as your startup starts to grow within a year’s time.

It’s why you need to stay communicated with your 3PL warehouse throughout each month to revise exactly what you need as you negotiate new contracts. If the warehouse isn’t willing to negotiate, know many other warehouses exist out there. You only need quality vetting services to find the ones best suitable for your business structure.

An Annual Contract

With an annual contract, you can eliminate the need to have to renegotiate every month, which can obviously become a hassle when you’re busy with other things. Along with outlining the services you need, you should also work out yearly agreements on rates, changes, and payment methods. Obligations and the rights of the shipper also need clear definitions to avoid legal entanglements.

Risk of loss and liability need mentions as well since a yearly contract is a long time without some likely damages. You don’t want to get stuck in a year-long contract without some liability since you could face major losses during the year if the warehouse doesn’t take full responsibility during shipping.

It’s always a good idea to add an amendment provision in the contract, though you both have to sign this so you’re in equal agreement.

A Multi-Year Contract

Signing a contract with a warehouse that goes on for two or more years is risky, despite having some advantages. One of the best is you’ll likely get lower rates. Nevertheless, you could get locked in further and be unable to get out if you find out some things about the warehouse you don’t like.

Being stuck with a 3PL facility that eventually becomes incompatible with your business can lead to severe financial difficulty. Since communication is important to maintain a good working relationship with a fulfillment center, being on bad terms only hurts you and how they ship items.

What’s important is to vet the warehouse as thoroughly as you can before you even sign a contract. We can help you with this here at insightQuote through our FulfillmentCompanies.net site.

Contact us to find out more about our services and to learn more about how to best negotiate your 3PL contract.

How to Reduce Delivery Issues While Keeping Your Customers Happy

Delivery issuesThe old term “I want it yesterday” is a statement perhaps sounding contrived, yet it’s a possible motto of the 21st century when it comes to package deliveries. Each ensuing year, consumers want their packages faster than ever to accommodate heavy demands, especially around the holidays.

While the big league players like Amazon have done a lot to speed up logistics (including same-day deliveries…for a price), you’re seeing many small to mid-sized businesses do the same.

It’s something to think about through this holiday season, though it needs maintaining all year. As a still-growing business, do you know how to reduce delivery issues and keep your customers happy? Even if you’ve mastered the art of quicker delivery times, other issues can certainly develop.

You may get some customer complaints about things you can’t always control directly. Yet, the important thing is to keep communicated with your fulfillment center, including working with one if you’re attempting logistics alone.

Typical Problems With Package Delivery Issues

No doubt you experienced some issues while delivering packages this holiday season. Typical complaints to delivery companies usually hovers around parcels being left out in the rain, or left in view of neighbors.

If this happened to some of your deliveries, did you manage to package it well enough so the product wouldn’t get ruined in the rain? What methods did you take to prevent any theft of the package?

We all know package thieves are a big problem in recent years due to deliverers leaving those items on people’s doorsteps.

These are the major hurdles you need to overcome to keep customers loyal, and before they go to a competitor already solving package delivery problems.

Communicating With Your Fulfillment Center

Unfortunately, far too many businesses don’t keep up communication with their fulfillment centers out of thought the latter can operate autonomously. It’s important to know exactly what’s occurring there every day and not assume management is going to follow procedures you expect.

First, it’s time to find a fulfillment center if you’re attempting package deliveries on your own. Maybe if you’re a very small business, doing logistics on your own can work for a while. Once growth occurs (sometimes overnight), you’re going to realize handling deliveries alone is going to become too overwhelming.

Working closely with a fulfillment center is essential because they’re a direct extension of your business. Visit in person, or keep real-time communication going every day to assure deliveries go out on time and get fulfilled the right way.

Providing More Transparency With Customers

Receiving customer complaints about a package not arriving or taking too long can become painful when they start piling up. Many recommend prepaid shipping services online to reduce chances of a package going missing.

Another recommendation is to provide complete transparency to customers in regards to shipping time and arrival. Tracking services pinpoint exactly where a package is to perhaps find it if it turns up missing.

Finding Alternative Places to Deliver a Package

Some customers may feel nervous about you delivering a package at your door. Provide other delivery options to give customers a choice. Even delivery to a P.O. Box can become a good alternative to customers who want to assure their package won’t end up being swiped.

Using standard USPS delivery can also bring safer deliveries. In some places (like apartments or duplexes), the USPS has multiple lock boxes for packages to assure safety.

Most importantly, you need a quality fulfillment center before any of the above can work efficiently.

Contact us at insightQuote to use our FulfillmentCompanies.net service to find a fulfillment center that’s right for you and in the most advantageous state.

3 Reasons You Have to Dig Past Review Sites in Finding Your Fulfillment Company

Beware of sites reviewing fulfillment providersReview sites have become ubiquitous across industries in today’s digital environment. Looking for the best hotel? Check out TripAdvisor. How about a great general contractor for your home renovation? AngiesList is here to help.

There is a reason these types of sites have become so popular, even in the B2B realm. We inherently trust the opinions of both our experts and peers, even if we’ve never heard of them before. In fact, 88% of consumers now trust online reviews from complete strangers as much as personal recommendations from their most trusted friends.

Not surprisingly, then, a number of review sites have popped up in the fulfillment sector as well. Google best fulfillment companies, and you’ll be inundated with blog posts, articles, and reviews about businesses that purport to offer the best possible service for your needs.

But here’s the thing: they’re all different. In fact, that’s the first of 3 reasons you have to dig past review sites in finding your ideal fulfillment company.

1) There is No Such Thing as The Best in Fulfillment

The fulfillment industry is far from homogenous. Every provider specializes in a wide range of different capabilities. The goal in finding your ideal partner is not to find one that does everything right, but finding a company that helps you accomplish your unique business goals.

Some companies try the one-size-fits-all approach. The problem: they usually fail. Depending on your warehousing and fulfillment needs, as well as the type of goods you sell, you may need very specialized vendors that may not show up in one of the countless ‘top 5’ lists you’ll find online.

In the end, nobody is perfect. Trying to find the ideal fulfillment company is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Instead of trying to go with an all-around solution, it’s crucial to do research beyond review sites to match your needs with the vendor’s capabilities.

2) Capabilities (and Preferences) Change Over Time

In addition, don’t underestimate the static nature of review sites. When conducting the above Google search, you’ll notice articles and reviews that are in some cases almost 10 years old. Unless you assume that in those ten years, everything has stayed the same, this should be a red flag.

No business stays the same over time. Capabilities evolve, companies grow, and the environment changes. The possibilities made possible by digital and mobile technology today would have seemed impossible in the fulfillment industry just a decade ago. Blindly trusting review sites means hoping that nothing has changed, versus doing your own research to determine today’s capabilities.

3) Consider the Reasons Behind the ‘Ranking’ Companies

Finally, it’s difficult to discuss this subject without bringing up the elephant in the room: often, there is a reason most review sites tend to list the same three to five fulfillment companies at the top. In fact, there’s two: herd mentality and back payments.

Not even experts in the industry can reliably rank all fulfillment companies based on a set of comprehensive metrics. That means two things: they either follow and copy the rankings of other review sites (creating a self-fulfilling prophecy), or they use other means of determining their rankings.

Too often, those other means consist of back payments. If you want to get your fulfillment company ranked highly, pay the reviewers. That means the companies atop these lists tend to be the highest bidders, not the best at helping you solve your business needs.

Given these three reasons, it’s paramount to go beyond review sites in finding a fulfillment company that can truly help move your business forward. Do your own research, and make sure to find a partner whose capabilities actually matches your needs. For more information about how we can help you in that regard, contact us.

What to Do After the Holidays When Sales Slow: Attracting Business After Peak Sales

After holiday sale conceptThe holidays arrived in a flash, and now they’re just as hurriedly over. Currently, your business may face an inevitable problem happening to many others: A slowdown in sales.

Once the holidays end, businesses like yours frequently reach peak sales and then face a significant drought for a while after. This often extends into the first of the new year until usually recovering for early spring holidays.

So do you know what to do after the holidays when sales slow? It’s time to realize those slowdowns don’t have to happen with e-commerce businesses like yours. You’ll want to look for some new ideas to bring people in the week following Christmas, and on through January.

Fortunately, you’ll find numerous ways to accomplish this, giving you and your fulfillment company plenty to do to keep your successful momentum going.

Targeted Post-Christmas Sales

It’s a smart idea to keep track of all the purchases made by your most loyal customers during the holiday season. Big data can keep track of this information and help categorize it into an easily accessible database.

These are the people you can count on to come back in and buy something from you during post-holiday periods. However, since you understand what their buying habits are, you can provide a new after-Christmas sale on products you know they’ll want.

This almost always works well since consumers continuously want to buy year-round if they’re enticed with a good deal. Just work close with your fulfillment center so you’re sure you won’t run out of stock on your sale items.

Using Autoresponders in Email Marketing

One reason consumers don’t always buy immediately after Christmas is because stores cut off all communication until the next holiday emerges. Why stop your marketing emails for two months, just because you think customers feel tired of shopping?

Keep those emails going with autoresponder technology. Through automation, you can time numerous emails to engage your most loyal customers. A good way to approach this is to send automated emails asking questions, like inquiring how they like the product they bought from you.

While sending these every week after the holidays, suggest similar products to what they bought. Despite automation being a time-saver, consider writing personal emails as well to bring a more personal connection, at least with those most loyal to you.

Asking Loyal Customers to Do Testimonials

Keeping engagement going with customers is obviously important, though you might want to do some creative moves to enhance communication. One great method is to get customers involved in doing testimonials about your products.

Letting them do this on video works similarly to brand advocates where they post content in your name on social media. Through testimonials, you’ll engage your loyal customers with a creative activity while convincing new people to start shopping with you immediately after the holidays.

Creating New Products

When you start a new product line the week after Christmas, you can start a brand new marketing campaign and interest. While it does pose a new challenge working with your fulfillment center, it gives you a chance to stay closer to them and work out new strategies for shipping.

The best thing about rolling out new products is you can easily line yourself up for further sales for other holidays after the first of the year. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day sales are only weeks away after New Year’s. Rather than having nothing set up then, you’ll have something useful at the ready.

Contact us at insightQuote to use our FulfillmentCompanies.net to find a fulfillment center that can help you maintain effective logistics beyond the holiday season.

How to Assess Your Fulfillment Company to Assure They Fit Your Business Structure

how to assess a fulfillment providerWorking with a fulfillment warehouse can become a gratifying partnership when you find one perfectly fitting your business structure. It can also become a nightmare if you’re locked into a contract and realize you can’t escape a warehouse unwilling to grow with your company.

It’s all the more reason you need to learn how to assess your fulfillment company to know whether they’ll continue to give you the services you expect. The best time to assess a fulfillment warehouse is before you even start working with them.

Vetting can take some considerable time, yet the more time you take, the more you’ll target a warehouse just right for your business structure. With millions of logistics warehouses around the country (and world), you have a lot to analyze.

Nevertheless, if you’ve been working with a fulfillment company throughout this year, it’s time to look out for some things at the beginning of 2017. Doing so helps you make a more educated decision about whether to stick around or move on.

Doing a Walk-Through of All Warehouse Operations

It’s unfortunate that too many businesses take fulfillment warehouses at face value and assume they’ll work on automatic pilot doing shipping duties. Not knowing what’s actually going on in the warehouse can come back and haunt you if you don’t go and see for yourself.

If you haven’t done an in-person walk-through of your warehouse, do so as soon as possible. You’ll be able to scope out a lot of issues you otherwise wouldn’t if you just go by what someone else tells you.

A full audit of how well the warehouse conducts their services could take more than one trip. Even so, it’s worth it to know they’re living up to what they promised in the contract.

Have all technology used in the warehouse assessed as well to make sure it’s up to operational standards. Finding any outdated technology there may require updates to keep your logistics competitive.

Gathering Metrics

Some assessments can work without in-person visits, and looking at data through a metrics platform saves you time. Make sure your warehouse uses analytic tools regularly with easy accessibility at all times. By allowing you access on any mobile device, you’ll have freedom to check out the numbers on how well your fulfillment center operates daily.

Metrics programs also give you summations over periods of time. Now you can do annual assessments to compare with the previous year.

Interviewing Staff Members

Those who do all the warehouse tasks know what’s going on more than management does. That’s because they’re the ones in the trenches doing all the physical labor. They’ll know where the real problems are, as long as they’re transparent about it.

Interview the staff individually so you can get different perspectives on how well things operate there. When you assess all their opinions, you get a better picture of how well they function based on the procedures management set in motion.

Benchmarking for Future Improvements

The concept of benchmarking is a proven method in warehouse assessments since you can use comparisons based on others, as well as your expectations. Using your warehouse contract as a guide, you can see where the fulfillment center needs to improve for the future.

Through the employee interviews above, you’ll weed out small things that could make a big difference in how fast you get deliveries out to customers.

In 2017, you may have specific goals for taking yourself to the next level. Doing benchmarking helps you see whether the warehouse is truly up to this in the next year. Comparing with what similar businesses and warehouses do helps you make a more educated decision about whether to continue your fulfillment relationship.

Contact us at insightQuote so we can help you assess quality fulfillment centers through our FulfillmentCompanies.net site.

4 Reasons Your Best Fulfillment Provider Might Not Be On Page One of Google

Google searchWhen you’re looking for a new fulfillment provider, you may find yourself turning straight to Google and checking out the search results to get a better idea of who you want to turn to. Around 33% of the search traffic on any given results page goes to the first site listed. Less than 10% of searchers make it past that first page. While Google has some great algorithms in place that help ensure that you’re getting excellent results in that first page, the best fulfillment provider for you might not be on page one of Google.

1. Page one is made up of the providers with the biggest ad budget. Google’s algorithm is based on a variety of factors, from links back to the page to the content created by a specific website. Building those things is part of a solid inbound marketing plan, but it takes both time and money to accomplish those things. Paid ads can also help boost organic search placement. That means that for the most part, the companies that you’ll find on Google’s first page are the companies with the biggest advertising budget–not necessarily the companies who will be best at handling your needs.

2. Page one is typically made up of the providers who have been established the longest. Established companies are great. They have a lot of experience in fulfillment and know how to handle plenty of the common problems that may arise throughout your experience. They’ve also had more time to create the content that improves their SEO, which is what gets them those great organic search rankings. The biggest fulfillment providers, however, aren’t always necessarily the best ones for your specific needs. With a smaller company, you’ll get more individualized attention. You’ll be more likely to deal with a single individual who knows all about your account, and when there is a problem, it will be less difficult to hunt down the person who knows the solution.

3. There are thousands of companies to choose from. Fulfillment companies come in a variety of shapes and sizes with many different offerings. There may be specific things that you want from your fulfillment provider, such as:

  • Full-service returns for customers
  • Comfort handling fragile items, food items, or other items that are, for whatever reason, more difficult to ship
  • A company that can handle your anticipated growth over the next several years

It may be difficult to find the company that you’re looking for through Google alone–especially if you’re basing your decision on that first page of search results, which will only hold around 10-15 companies out of the thousands that could potentially handle your fulfillment needs.

4. You’re looking for a company that specializes in fulfillment, not advertising. If you were looking for a marketing professional to handle your inbound marketing needs, finding a company that ranks on the first page of Google’s search results would be important. Being able to accomplish that, however, requires marketing expertise that many fulfillment companies simply don’t have. You want them to be focused on fulfillment, not on fixing up their latest marketing efforts!

There are plenty of hidden gems that will never appear on the first page of Google’s search results. Only a handful of the thousands of available companies can claim those key positions, and those aren’t necessarily the companies with the most experience or the greatest customer service. They just happen to be the ones that have the biggest marketing budget available, the largest content library, and the best ability to get themselves seen. When what you want is a fulfillment company that will go the extra mile for you and your customers, don’t turn to the first page of Google! Instead, contact us to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your fulfillment services.

Warning Signs You’re With the Wrong Third-Party Fulfillment Company

Warning signs you're with the wrong fulfillment providerWorking with a fulfillment company can become both a blessing and a curse, depending on how much you know about them. It’s why vetting is such an important process before you choose one, despite so many businesses skipping this process.

Even if you find one you think you can work with, the warehouse could have problems in the future. Sometimes it’s impossible to know whether a fulfillment warehouse is going to have issues until the time actually comes. They still usually show warning signs, which you can scope out in part during vetting. Then again, if you’ve already signed a warehouse contract in 2016, it pays to keep an eye on some red flags in the coming year. Conducting annual assessments with your warehouse usually helps find some of the most egregious issues.

Here’s some warning signs you’re with the wrong third-party fulfillment company so you can take heed and move on before becoming a bigger problem.

Lack of Communication

While this is a common issue, it’s something to still take seriously. Maybe you haven’t made an effort yourself to keep in contact with your warehouse for a while. Or, maybe you have, yet the fulfillment company hasn’t bothered to return your calls, emails, or texts.

If not, it’s an immediate sign they don’t take communicating with you seriously. When this happens, it’s a surefire sign your partnership isn’t going well. You can’t work with a warehouse and not have a good working relationship. They’re basically your other business half, and communicating every day is essential.

With this relationship, you need transparency, and any tendency to cover up things is an immediate sign to look elsewhere.

Improper Billing Procedures

Any lack of organization in the warehouse could lead to improper billing that creates constant confusion between you and customers. Much of this has to do with technology weaknesses and using paper-based systems. Digitizing documents is important now to prevent discrepancies.

All it takes is a mistake in charging too much on shipping, or not properly addressing your own bills, to create major downtime finding errors. Because you’re already busy keeping your business afloat, you don’t want to waste hours or days locating where a mistake occurred. Your warehouse might not cooperate either, making things worse.

Not Keeping Up With Your Growth Demands

Business growth could happen virtually overnight in your company. Can your fulfillment center keep up with those demands, or would they lag behind?

Doing thorough audits discerns whether the warehouse has ability to scale along with you. No willingness to invest in better technology is a major warning sign they won’t keep up.

They’re also maybe downsizing staff, which only places more pressures on other workers to keep up the slack. Not hiring talent to keep up with major demands is a sign mistakes may get made often down the road.

Too Many Cultural Gaps

Because your business may have unique products requiring specialized shipping and distribution, your warehouse might not possess enough capability to understand this. Maybe they did initially. Now they’ve slipped on keeping up with distribution changes, or on international shipping regulations.

In the coming year, you may have plans to expand to international markets. Your fulfillment center needs to keep up on the latest requirements in those foreign zones, including the latest bans on specific products.

Many countries don’t allow various items, and any mistake shipping them there could lead to major violations and fines. When your fulfillment center takes the brunt of blame, it could place them in financial jeopardy.

Contact us at insightQuote so we can help you find a fulfillment warehouse that continues to keep up with your business.