Your online sales are really starting to take off... But you’re having trouble keeping up and you’re thinking about outsourcing your warehousing and fulfillment.
Here are some of the key factors to think through when choosing a fulfillment center for your ecommerce operations:
1. Dynamic scaling capabilities
Demand fluctuates. No matter if it’s due to seasonality, scarcity, marketing hype, or unforeseeable situations, online brands rarely maintain consistent sales throughout the year. These fluctuations can make it hard to keep track of warehousing needs as an ecommerce brand grows.
To help overcome varying demand, an online brand should look for a 3PL partner that understands dynamic scaling, a methodology that allows resources to be increased or decreased to keep up with demand, and that can adapt its fulfillment facility to these changes. This will allow the brand to save on resources during slower periods of the year.
2. Reverse logistics for ecommerce returns
With 3 out of 4 online customers feeling that ecommerce returns are a hassle, an online brand needs a 3PL fulfillment center that can handle packages headed back towards the distribution center just as well as it can ship them to customers.
Good 3PL providers can help with returns by efficiently managing vendors, prioritizing key products for processing, and generating greater visibility along the returns path.
Losing track of merchandise on its way back can result in unrecoverable costs on top of the refund that needs to be issued. And poor inventory management for returned items can prevent future customers from purchasing them.
Customers also don’t enjoy waiting for refunds. A bad experience could result in losing a customer for life, while a great experience can build a long-term customer relationship.
3. Access to bulk shipping discounts across carriers
With greater volumes of packages being shipped, it makes sense that your company save on costs thanks to bulk discounts. A good fulfillment center will have access to these discounts from major shipping carriers and easily manage the complexities of working with multiple carriers, all while ensuring the right transportation methods are used for your orders.
This in turn allows the brand to increase its profit margins while scaling up. The savings can add up quickly and position an online seller for continued future success.
4. Personalized branding for online orders
The biggest tradeoff that comes with the more basic ecommerce logistics services is a loss of personalization of your branding. This does not need to be the case with a capable 3PL partner.
With detailed instructions, they’ll be able to seamlessly translate an ecommerce company's branding across the entire customer experience right down to the packaging. This can include everything from free samples to personalized notes included in the box.
Through a consistent customer experience, the brand can grow and reach new customers while still nurturing existing customer relations that it has worked so hard to create.
5. Adaptability and flexibility to your ecommerce logistics challenges
Some products need special accommodations. If an item comes in multiple sizes and colors, the 3PL warehouse staff must be able to find the right items for each order. From kitting and large volume clients to rush orders, delicate items, and specialized packaging, make sure the 3PL partner is able to handle your specific inventory.
They should be investing in innovative automation capabilities to ensure an efficient and consistent flow of product, and also needs to be strategic and flexible enough to accommodate multi-location delivery.
The right 3PL partner will also have expertise in both the shipping and transportation processes for your ecommerce sales. They’ll be able to suggest the best warehouse locations for your sales strategy that will enable you to get orders shipped faster and more efficiently.
Finding the ecommerce fulfillment facility that fits your online business
The functionalities discussed above are valuable considerations when choosing an ecommerce fulfillment center, but what truly matters is the people who run the center and their commitment to your success. Combined with the right logistics capabilities, they’ll enable a company to reach new heights.