More small businesses that sell product online are using outsourced services of fulfillment companies and call centers to handle much of the back end processing, freeing up valuable time to devote to revenue producing activities. Traditionally, online merchants would procure separate fulfillment houses and call center providers to handle these distinctive service offerings. But as the business services landscape is evolving, an increasing number of fulfillment companies are beginning to offer call center services as a packaged solution, and vice versa. So with more options, retailers are left with determining which course of action is best suited for their unique situation. And the decision can be quite difficult based upon the varying pros and cons.
How Can “All-Under-One-Roof” Solutions Be Beneficial?
The thought process behind creating a one stop shop for both fulfillment services and call center services is to create one point of contact and leverage the synergies of these ancillary services. After all, the link between handling inbound order taking and shipping the respective packages is obvious. Furthermore, customer service representatives answering questions about product shipping related issues require all of the information at the fingertips of fulfillment staff. And because software systems in these respective industries have grown leaps and bounds, integration between these seemingly varying systems is much easier than in the past. All of this makes managing the entire fulfillment and customer service processes more simple than handling two separate providers.
The Argument for Using Separate Providers
In a perfect world, an outsourced provider that offers both fulfillment and call center services would be able to perform at the highest of levels in both areas. But the cold hard reality is that some dual providers excel at one service and aren’t quite as good at the other. After all, these are diverse businesses which require different capabilities and competencies. This isn’t to say that there are no high quality dual service providers – because there are select groups out there that have mastered both processes. But when performance suffers in one of the two areas, it can lead to more overall work than if separate outsourced providers were used. Furthermore, when one provider is used for both services, if there is ever a problem that requires moving to another partner, the merchant is faced with the decision to “pull” the underperforming service or perhaps to pull the entire account. And in most cases, when there’s a problem with one of the two service areas, the overall relationship degrades. Because of this, some companies choose to use separate providers so that they diversify their risk among two companies and simplifying and potential future issues related to future movement.
The Best Choice Depends Upon Your Priorities
So the question becomes, what is more important – having everything under one roof or diversifying risk and investing in the notion that specialization produces better results in each area? The answer isn’t cut and dry, but knowing what to consider before making this decision can make the difference between a headache and a great success. If you’re a champion of specialization theory, then perhaps finding two separate providers may suite your company best. However, if juggling multiple vendors doesn’t sound like time well spent, there are solid providers that perform both functions competently under one roof.