Is Specialization Important in Fulfillment?

Should You Choose a Specialized Provider?

In a world where most fulfillment firm claim that they can help you with all of your fulfillment needs, it’s sometimes difficult to decipher through the claims and actually determine which provider is best suited for your product. In reality, there are two main types of fulfillment firms out there when it comes to commodity type. First, there are those that don’t really have a specific focus in terms of product types. They focus on helping store and fulfill orders for a wide variety of products. Second, there are fulfillment firms that focus on a specific product niche or a small handful of commodity types. So how do you determine which one is best for you? Take a look at some of our suggestions below that will help you make the best decision.

No Specialization is a Good Option for Some

When your product doesn’t have any special requirements in terms of storage, packaging and shipping, a general fulfillment firm without any particular product specialization may be a good option for you. Generally speaking, fulfillment providers that don’t have any specialization offer highly competitive rates since they cater to the needs of many different types of companies. But the one thing that you want to be sure of when using a fulfillment firm without any specialization is that they produce great results for their clients. In some cases, general fulfillment companies don’t perform as high a quality service as others with greater specialization because there aren’t as many standards to adhere to with regard to commodity type. These providers can be a good option if you don’t have any specific requirements, but make sure that you’re not compromising quality for cost.

When Specialization is Mandatory

There are certain instances when a specialized fulfillment firm is mandatory. Certain commodity types require certifications that most companies don’t have on hand. For example, commodity types such as hazardous materials, food grade products, organic products, alcoholic beverages, high tech and medical devices, temperature controlled products, and pharmaceutical products have stringent criteria and certifications that must be achieved in order to be in compliance with greater regulations with the respective industries. When searching for a fulfillment firm with that can handle these types of products, make sure that they have the applicable certifications and capabilities by requesting copies and make sure that you gauge the quality of their work with other customers.

There is Some Gray Area with Product Specialization

While it’s particularly clear for certain product types that a specialized provider is a requirement, there are other instances when the line isn’t as clear. For example, some product types don’t require any special certifications but tend to be problematic for many fulfillment companies to store and ship consistently without error. One great example of this comes in the form of apparel. While it would seem that storing and shipping apparel should be as straightforward as other commodity types, there are factors that make this especially challenging. For instance, apparel oftentimes requires picking products that are very similar in look but slightly different in terms of type or size. Errors are common in this environment without a certain level of expertise and experience. And there are other commodities that fall within this same spectrum. In particular, companies with quite a few items and with items that have very similar product lines or size variation should be particularly careful when selecting a fulfillment firm. While most fulfillment companies will tell you they can do everything, a healthy dose of specialization can increase performance and decrease your costs over the long haul.