A growing eCommerce company needs premium fulfillment services to keep inventory moving, orders fulfilled, and customers happy. Finding the right partner can be challenging, however, if you’re unsure what “premium” means.
Here’s your guide to defining that level of support, understanding how excellent third-party logistics will improve your business, and knowing what to ask to ensure you’re protected and ready for growth.
Premium fulfillment services: a 30-second primer
A premium fulfillment partner is much more than just a company you outsource shipping and logistics work to across the world. It will turn these functions into benefits for your company.
At Red Stag Fulfillment, we do that by guaranteeing the speed and accuracy of shipments, helping you review packaging to look for savings, and employing experts to protect your goods.
Being “premium” means always seeking to improve and go a step beyond what’s expected.
What is a fulfillment services provider?
Fulfillment services companies offer order fulfillment, warehousing, carrier negotiations, and other fulfillment support. Standard companies help you get goods inbound from manufacturers, store these items, and then send them to customers after they place an order.
You can find many barebones 3PLs that help with the core elements of each step, but nothing more. That can work fine for a new business or one that is hyper-focused on cost-saving measures. It’s a common approach for drop shipping businesses, for example.
Standard eCommerce fulfillment features include storage, order pick and pack, label creation, and inventory management. However, your business likely needs more. You want someone to help you tackle issues like shrinkage or better position your goods to reduce shipping costs.
That approach to improving your business through fulfillment best practices will push a 3PL into a “premium” tier.
What makes something a premium fulfillment service?
A premium fulfillment services provider is a company that not only provides core fulfillment but goes above and beyond to tailor efforts to your company and product needs.
That can mean targeting niche industries to ensure goods, such as heavy or high-value items, are always secure. You may also get specific services like kitting for subscriptions, cold storage, or white glove support. Think of it as the extra steps and practices you need to feel comfortable that your order fulfillment maintains your brand identity.
Red Stag Fulfillment offers many of these solutions and can help you do things like stage inventory in multiple locations to reduce last-mile shipping costs. Our consultations on zone skipping help your business save money so it can reinvest. Same-day fulfillment, inventory management, and eliminating shrinkage are part of our promise to offer a premier service.
Here’s what else you should look for from a premium fulfillment services partner.
The pandemic reset everyone’s expectations in 2020, and the logistics landscape hasn’t been the same since. A reliable 3PL should have a clear plan to address some of the concerns raised by the coronavirus as well as a track record of consistent, quality performance under pressure.
At Red Stag, we measure this directly in ways you and your customers understand. We push to get every order out accurately and on time. During the 2021 peak season, we met our on-time shipment SLA 99.959% of the time, and 99.976% of orders left our warehouses correctly.
That means fewer returns and refunds compared to the performance of a typical 3PL in our space. Premier fulfillment companies like us not only perform but also encourage you to compare us directly to any competitor or product fulfillment operation.
Full-service fulfillment companies support you in selling products, but the best ones guarantee quality performance. That’s something you and your business deserve.
So, ask any premium fulfillment service provider about how they ensure performance levels. Get clear guarantees in writing, including how the logistics company will make you whole if they cause an issue.
At Red Stag, our speed, order accuracy, and inventory security are guaranteed for every SKU and shipment. And if something goes wrong, we fix the issue and compensate you directly for the error. We’re confident in our ability to deliver perfection in inventory management and utilization for your eCommerce and retail operations.
Data and tools
Your 3PL, and any company that provides management services, should support the tools and platforms you use. It should integrate seamlessly with websites, shopping carts, order tracking, and other standard tools used by eCommerce companies. Give any potential partner your tech stack list and ensure they work with you.
Systems integration is incredibly important because it means you can use your existing tools and the data your supply chain creates. That means nearly every company that offers outsourced order fulfillment touts its capabilities here.
Your approach should be: trust but verify. For Red Stag Fulfillment, you’ll find integrations on our website listed by partners. That includes pages like this for Shopify fulfillment services. But, you’ll also find us on the websites of those same partners, like this Shopify list of best 3PLs, where it notes our integrations, too.
Support focused on growth
Not sure if you’re looking at a third-party logistics company offering premium fulfillment services? Ask how the 3PL can take you to the next level while it delivers secure, consistent experiences for your customers. Discuss capabilities that focus on your growth moving forward.
These efforts can vary. You might need support reducing a typical shipping cost, understanding warehousing around the U.S., or improving packaging and order processing. Don’t look for a blanket answer; instead, ask for something specific to your operations.
Red Stag Fulfillment provides this kind of support through direct consultations with our leaders. We also share their knowledge and guidance in articles like this look at if you need a freight forwarder. After you dive into the topic, our experts are just a call or email away to help you understand whether this could improve your logistics capabilities and support customers.
Operational advantages of collaborating with a top provider
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “life is a journey, not a destination.” It’s easy to argue that eCommerce business success and growth are similar paths. So, a premium third-party logistics partner improves the journey for your business and customers.
Operationally, that has a few core meanings. You’re looking past packaging and pure shipping cost to see what you can leverage in sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction. These partners consistently get your inventory and distribution right so both businesses can focus on what comes next.
5 growth benefits of a premium fulfillment service
1. Competitive carrier rates
ECommerce budgets always run tight. You improve them by generating more sales or building a more cost-effective service. Your fulfillment services partner should help with both.
But here, take a moment to focus on carrier rates. Your 3PL should help you access reduced pricing because of the volume it ships each month with multiple carriers. That means lower overall costs, reduced fees, or better price calculations for things like DIM weight.
Ask about this specifically because you want to know how your partner leverages its buying power for your benefit. Learn if savings are restricted or apply to specific types of packaging or parcel sizes. Ensure that the benefits match your services and common destinations locally or globally.
2. Fast fulfillment
Customers don’t care about the location of your warehouses. They care about the destination of their orders, namely their front porch. That means you need fast fulfillment and shipping services for every order.
A premium fulfillment service provider will give you access to two-day or three-day shipping to the entire country. What’s important here are warehouse locations that distribute inventory in a few places while still meeting customer demands.
Red Stag does this with two warehouse locations that can reach more than 96% of Americans in two days, and more than 99% in three days. That’s smart warehousing designed to support your eCommerce sales and the service you promise customers.
3. Expert assistance
What happens when a container is late, your manufacturer sends damaged goods, or a pandemic disrupts your supply chain?
If you’re in business long enough, those go from potential issues to something directly impacting you and your distribution. A premium fulfillment service partner not only has the warehouse teams to manage these exceptions but plans for this to occur. It’s the nature of logistics.
Industry-leading providers train their teams on these exceptions and jump into high gear when such an issue arises. That means having the labor to scale up at a moment’s notice. An inbound mistake that’s out of your control shouldn’t harm fulfillment, your business, or your customers.
Your eCommerce operations need the highest degree of support. That comes from a warehouse full of experts partnering on your success because it all comes down to moving orders and delighting customers.
4. Peak season support
Around the end of the year, eCommerce brands shift from a marketing and sales push into operational overdrive. You need to get all those orders out to people on time so that they have a good holiday. This effort starts with planning.
Premier partners make it easy to check inventory and view orders live at any time. You get logistics dashboards highlighting inventory levels and distribution, supporting analytics, and tracking assets. That way, you can run real-time performance checks ahead of the big day.
From there, your 3PL should find carrier capacity to move your orders while optimizing packaging to control costs. That means partnering with carriers throughout the year. And when your biggest sales days arrive, the 3PL can assist by scaling up teams and technology to meet your demand.
Peak season cost savings can depend greatly on the fulfillment services you purchase from carriers. Rates go up every year, and here is a roundup of the 2022 increases for retail and industry distribution:
- FedEx 2022 Peak Season Surcharges Unveiled
- 2022 UPS Peak Surcharge Takes Aim at Large Packages
- Postal Service Announces Peak USPS 2022 Cost Increases
5. Room for you to expand
Growing your business means growing your fulfillment needs. More advanced companies want detailed options to track deliveries and perform analytics. Plus, they need more physical space to hold goods. That way, the fulfillment experience they deliver can live up to marketing promises.
Ask any potential partner how it’s expanding. And note when anyone is shrinking, especially major brands, because that may demonstrate risks in their business model.
Red Stag wants to be a supportive premium fulfillment service by increasing your distribution and storage options. We currently have more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space across our Knoxville and Salt Lake City locations. The Sweetwater, Tennessee, location is nearing completion of its first phase, and additional space is opening ahead of peak 2022. When that facility is fully online, it will introduce more than 700,000 additional square feet of storage.
That’s a lot of room, and we want to help your business grow to fill it.
Red Stag Fulfillment: Your premier fulfillment company
At Red Stag Fulfillment, we view our premium fulfillment services as something that makes us a premier fulfillment company.
Fulfillment is the most important thing we do, and we work to be leaders in every aspect of this work. That starts with each new partnership we create, whether it’s shipping your orders or integrating your technology.
We manage the heavy lifting of eCommerce fulfillment so you can focus on the aspects of your business that need it most.
Premium fulfillment services that let you get back to selling
Our business aims to offer such a compelling fulfillment experience that you and your customers never want it to change. We aim to be your secret weapon for maximizing sales and generating recurring revenue.