Do’s and Don’ts

Order fulfillment services are one of the most frequently outsourced operations in the market today.  Successful outsourcing can plan a huge role in controlling operational costs, but it is critical that valuable customer relationships are not jeopardized in the process.  When evaluating the merits of one fulfillment service provider over another, there are several do’s and don’ts to consider.

 

Order Fulfillment Do’s

  1. Consider the warehousing capabilities of the provider. Simply put, an inadequate amount of square footage means that the fulfillment service may not be able to support the client’s inventory needs.  If you expect future inventory growth, ask about additional warehouse space availability and the process and timing involved to increase capacity.
  2. Check which ordering methods the provider can process. Customers today require multiple options when it comes to submitting orders, ranging from traditional phone orders to real-time email and online orders.  Ensure that your provider can process high-volume orders across multiple formats.
  3. Investigate the internal procedures used to process orders from receipt to delivery. Ask to see documented process to ensure the provider has the infrastructure and operational flow to provide acceptable order turnaround.   Also ask how exceptions and outages are handled; problems will arise and it’s critical to know how your provider will respond.
  4. Think about location. Select an order fulfillment service provider that has facilities strategically located for your customer base.

Order Fulfillment Don’ts – 

  1. Never be afraid to ask questions about Order fulfillment services and expect detailed answers in return. It is your right to know exactly how your fulfillment provider will increase efficiency and make your company shine in front of clients. If you only get vague responses to direct questions, you should move to the next candidate.
  2. Avoid order fulfillment services that do not have a well-defined process of accountability. You need to know what happens when inventory is lost, shipped in error, or is damaged while in storage. Inventory losses can make a significant dent in profits, easily offsetting the benefits of outsourcing. Never do business with any fulfillment service provider that cannot make specific and equitable commitments in handling these types of loss.
  3. Do not sign any service contracts until the provider has been checked for financial stability and a history of delivering quality service to its customers. An order fulfillment company may have a great operational strategy and provide all the right answers, but is not a good match if its business is on shaky financial ground or has a poor service reputation.

Keep in mind that customers don’t care if you outsource their orders for completion or not. They do care if their order is late or differs from what was ordered.  If you choose to outsource your fulfillment services, candidly assess these do’s and don’ts before contracting with any service provider.