Whether your company has grown enough that you’re ready to move beyond fulfilling every order in-house or you’ve outgrown your current third-party fulfillment service, it pays to be prepared before you sit down for your first meeting with a new prospective fulfillment partner. Preparation will move the discovery process forward more quickly and keep you from wasting time on providers that can’t meet your goals, capabilities, or priorities. It goes beyond a simple cost comparison to ensuring they have the capabilities to provide the services you need at the prices you expect.
For instance, once you’re down to your shortlist of potential fulfillment partners, it’s important to discover if they have the experience and flexibility your business needs to grow and thrive. Sure, that can include how long the company has been around and how many locations they have, but some additional crucial questions to ask include:
- How is your company different from other fulfillment companies? What makes your company better?
- How much experience do you have with eCommerce or omnichannel companies? Have you worked with businesses like mine?
- Have you worked in similar industries? Do you understand how to fulfill the specific legal, regulatory, or compliance issues around products like mine?
- Do your locations align with my customer base to improve deliveries and optimize shipping costs? Are they conveniently located for receiving my inventory?
- How fast can you fulfill orders (i.e., days to delivery from order placement)?
- How easy (or difficult) is it to integrate our technology and online store? Do you provide software integration help?
- Is your pricing structure easy to understand and clear, or are there hidden costs and fees that add up? Can you offer me postal savings that may decrease overall costs?
- Do you support returns? What is your policy for damaged inventory or late shipments?
- What is your order accuracy, and what internal processes do you follow to ensure quality and continuous improvement?
- Do you provide real-time inventory data and visibility of my orders?
- What accreditations and references are you able to provide?
- Will I receive clear, transparent communication? For example, can I talk to a real live person who can help with questions or issues?
- Do you offer the additional services I need, like branded packaging and kitting?
- Are you set up to scale with me as my business grows, domestically and internationally?
Preparation, of course, isn’t one-sided. At QuickBox, we’ll have questions for you too. For instance, to ensure we can provide an accurate proposal with no unexpected costs or surprises, we go through a detailed process with our prospective clients to ensure we understand all the requirements of your business. You’ll be asked to complete our Request for Information (RFI) document, one of the most important tools we use to understand how we can help your business. Ultimately, this will enable us to present the most efficient and optimized solution and pricing for you.
You’ll be asked to provide information such as:
- Your current sales and shipment volume with raw data information regarding inventory, receiving data, and shipping data for a six-month period.
- Storage requirements for your inventory, including quantities, number of SKUs, and handling requirements.
- Any requirements and certifications you’re looking for, such as organic, food grade, FDA, etc.
- If your products have any special requirements, such as hazmat or temperature control.
- Your growth expectations and goals.
All this information helps us determine the right solution to meet your company’s specific needs and growth. In other words, this information allows us to optimize a solution for your business that’s most cost-effective, which enables us to help reduce your overall supply chain costs. And, if we aren’t the right solution for you, we won’t waste your time. Instead, we’ll provide recommendations for companies that may be better suited for your current business and needs.
If you’re ready to take your fulfillment service to the next level, contact QuickBox today to see how we can help you optimize fulfillment for your continued growth.