Are you spending countless hours receiving, repacking and sending out your products instead of managing your business? It may be time to outsource your fulfillment services! Though trusting your business operations to others may seem like a leap of faith, it doesn’t have to be. When choosing fulfillment vendors, there are key decision-making points to consider that can help you better predict outcomes and ultimately allow you to improve your bottom line – and free up more time for you to operate your business.
1) Find Your Fit
Assuming your company needs both warehousing and fulfillment services, you’ll need to find a vendor that can accomplish both. Temperature-controlled warehouses are fairly standard, but if you’re dealing in artisan chocolates, an exact storage temperature and detailed inventory control system will be required. You’ll also need to ask if the vendor is equipped to send out your orders as instructed. Will they wrap the box of dark truffles and tie the red bow on those marked as gifts? Some do. Some don’t.
2) Excellent Communication Means Cost Savings
As a business owner you know that the strength of your communication skills can translate into great cost savings. The same is true for a potential vendor (both their communication with you and amongst themselves). Excellent communication also helps you remain connected to your customers. When the inevitable mistake occurs, you’ll want a vendor to inform you immediately so you can reach out to your customers. The personal touch is not a value you have to give up when you outsource fulfillment.
3) Experience Means They’ve Earned It
You’ve earned your reputation. Shop for a warehousing and fulfillment company that has earned theirs. A company that has been in business for many years like Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries has worked through their operational processes, which means cost savings for you.
4) Valued Experience Brings Invaluable Suggestions
With experience comes know-how. When you’re a fulfillment rookie, you’ll want to hear about how to save on shipping costs and what processes you might want to consider. Only an experienced vendor will be able to offer those suggestions. New vendors are learning on your dime as opposed to saving you a dime.
5) Know ALL of the Costs Involved
As a small business, it’s crucial that you are able to plan for the fulfillment services to minimize the cash-flow impact of unexpected or misunderstood fees. Comparing the costs of several vendors will help you identify varying costs, especially if vendors charge “creative” and confusing fees. Be on the lookout for penalties and variable costs that can exponentially mount as your order size increases. Other costs to look for include package receiving fees, storage fees, and shelving (and re-shelving) fees.
Ideally, vendors will have a list of clients and testimonials on their website. If not, simply ask them for a few representative clients you can call. You can also call the Better Business Bureau to inquire about complaints. However, if you want some answers, Google them. Sites such as Glassdoor will provide you a good look inside the operations of the company.
7) Flexibility is Key
Plans change. You’ll want a vendor who can adjust. Can they upscale or downscale quickly? You’ll want to ask them what their operational capabilities are for last-minute changes.
8) Facility Tour
Go ahead and stop in for a visit. Seeing the inside operations of the vendor can help you with your decision. You’ll be able to see right away if things are organized and clean. If “pop-in” visits are discouraged, that may be a red flag.
Are you ready to learn more about possible fulfillment partners for your business? Contact us at Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries for a free tour of our facilities!