Finding capable, reliable fulfillment solutions allows eCommerce leaders and large businesses to continue to scale without needing to develop their own internal logistics operations. You get to avoid the hassle of managing two distinct companies — one with the products you love to sell and one in the weeds that manages imports, freight, storage, and last-mile delivery. Instead of struggling to build your own 3PL, secure the right partner who can meet the challenges unique to your products and customers.
If you’re here, we know that your business is past the point of a simple checklist of items like, ‘won’t break your boxes,’ and ‘integrates with standard Shopify stores.’ So, let’s take a deeper look into what makes a fulfillment solution a reliable partner. It’s all about the relationship and how they help you grow by removing concerns. We think all that should start on day one, and it comes with three essential things to consider.
What reliable fulfillment solutions mean at your scale
Generally speaking, a fulfillment solution is a service from a company like Red Stag Fulfillment. We handle product storage and how SKUs are picked, packed, and given to carriers when customers place an order. Fulfillment supports every inventory step involved with your customers’ orders, including restocking to prepare for the next order.
But at scale, for businesses like yours, fulfillment gets more complex and requires a deeper understanding of your products and the promises you make to customers. Reliable fulfillment solutions for prominent eCommerce players and those expanding during the pandemic should be willing to meet greater demands. These will be specific to you but often involve:
- Offering multiple warehouse locations to minimize last-mile shipping zones
- Distribute inventory to best align with order history and forecasts to minimize costs
- Support peak volumes and efforts to maximize inventory profitability
- Have a transparent process for scheduling your containers, even during supply chain delays
- Reliably hit cut-offs for order processing and shipping
- Maintain zero shrinkage promises even as SKU counts and volume increase
- Provide guidance on advanced supply chain management techniques to help avoid port backlogs, container delays, demurrage charges, and more
Fulfillment is an extension of your brand. So, fulfillment solutions need to be at the quality you demand from your team. As you scale, those demands should increase. The right partner will meet them and help you grow with expert fulfillment centers across the U.S.
Support your eCommerce customers
ECommerce orders look different today from a few years ago. Sales volume is skyrocketing, but so are competitors, returns, and unique customer demands such as “buy now, pay later” options. Reliable fulfillment solutions are an essential part of making and keeping promises to customers in these areas, from supporting faster delivery and new payment options to improving or automating the returns process.
Discuss the promises you make to customers. Ask how your eCommerce fulfillment provider supports those in the SLA. This could mean offering return processing at every fulfillment center to ensure fast refunds and replacements, for example. Or it might mean asking for multiple scans during the pick and pack process like we at Red Stag perform to keep accuracy rates high and avoid costly return shipping that you offer free to customers.
Is your brand is well-known for sales, mix-and-match offers, or free gifts? An established kitting process might make fulfillment centers run smoothly and ensure inventory counts remain accurate. Giving each kit its own SKU helps you know how sales are performing, making it a must-have. Go beyond a typical company’s baseline concerns. Ask how the 3PL will exceed your expectations and help you exceed your customers’ expectations.
Keep fulfillment solutions on your terms
One final piece of advice is to look for reliable fulfillment solutions that work for you and your products, not against you. An easy way to figure out if there’s an issue is to ask questions about an assumption you’re told. Be direct. Keep it simple. Because you deserve an honest answer if you’re going to give someone your business.
For instance, say a company tells you that you’ll need more automation and faster delivery guarantees to customers as your SKUs grow. Ask them why. What about your specific SKUs make automation a must-have? What is it about your customers that turns more SKUs into needing two-day or same-day delivery (and how does this fulfillment company know)?
Cookie-cutter approaches to fulfillment solutions don’t work. Your operations need a solution that has you and your products in mind. Every suggestion the fulfillment provider makes should target making your business specifically better. If the email, one-pager, or flashy video doesn’t apply to your business, can you be sure that their customer service team will?
Offering what your operations deserve
Order fulfillment is the workhorse of eCommerce sales because it must be accurate, quick, and affordable for you to meet customer expectations. Getting it right needs proper management and expertise to get the job done without hiccup or interruption. You want someone so reliable that your fulfillment is a weekly check-in, not late nights or continuous headaches.
It’s time to get reliable fulfillment solutions that meet your specific demands. Don’t settle for 3PLs that aren’t a good fit or fail to meet your needs. Red Stag is here to offer a higher level of service and make specific promises to keep your orders flowing, with straightforward ways to hold us accountable on every shipment. Every 3PL will promise to make things easy, but we’re here to do it for you.