Working 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.