With the beginning of a business, an area in a home could be sufficient space to place and store your business inventories. But with the development of your eCommerce business, storing inventories at home makes no sense. Moreover, you are a busy manager or entrepreneur who needs to focus more on boosting sales and workflows. In this peak time, developing yourself as a Shopify fulfillment centers guru is not crucial.
Approximately 39% of eCommerce business owners outsource their work and make a huge profit out of it. For fulfilling the orders quickly, you need inventory fulfillment help from professionals such as Shopify fulfillment centers. However, selecting a fulfillment partner is a critical decision that should be done with extreme care.
Selecting an order fulfillment center
With the growth of the business, a major portion of the workforce starts devoting their time to activities other than sales and marketing. This involves managing inventories, receiving and shipping orders, packaging products, and sending them to the customers. This clearly highlights the serious problem of any growing business – The need to outsource some business-related activities, such as fulfillment.
Along with focusing on marketing and sales, there could be some other reasons to outsource fulfillment services, such as –
- Business owners want their team to get rid of the tasks of managing unorganized and inaccurate inventory.
- They want to save their labor expenses
- They need to concentrate more on the sales part than the warehouse and inventory management
- They want to improve their logistics and online ordering facilities which could be done only when the process is streamlined.
- They are planning direct marketing campaigns, but the lack of space, resources, and funding is stopping them from getting the task done.
What is a fulfillment center?
You do not need to look for options like hiring a friend’s home for managing inventories or shifting your children to other places for more space. There is a much better option to resolve your inventory management problem and that is partnering with a renowned fulfillment service provider like Shopify fulfillment centers.
You might not be aware of the work of a fulfillment service provider, known by different names like fulfillment house, fulfillment company, fulfillment service, fulfillment provider, etc.
A fulfillment center is a firm that is responsible for sending orders accurately and quickly to your customers. The fulfillment service provider takes orders from your server, manages and picks them from their shelves, and packs them. When everything is done, the professionals contact the shipper for the shipment of the order. They also send automated emails and messages to all the customers so that they can track their orders.
Fulfillment centers handle the following tasks –
- Call-center support
- Reordering and return of products
- Customer credit card processing
- Updating the inventory levels on the website
Let’s take a look at a simple explanation of this process. If someone has ordered 10 or 15 products from your site, you will be responsible to update the details to the fulfillment service provider about all the orders and that’s it. Your work is done. Now, the fulfillment service provider starts their process, they will select, check, and pack the products from their warehouse and share the details with the shipper and the customers.
If you are a business that is already working with a hosting company then there will be some change in the responsibilities of a fulfillment center. Your hosting company or in-house employees will take care of the credit card details. On the other hand, your fulfillment partner will select and pack the products. They will also take the responsibility for the return of any order as well as for providing customer support.
Why do you need a fulfillment service provider?
Before we move on towards the process of selecting the fulfillment service provider, it is crucial to know why you should partner with a fulfillment center. Knowing the reason will help you to pick the best company for you. Start asking some of the below questions to yourself –
- What are your specific business requirements (in the current time and in the near future)?
By answering this you will be able to know whether you need a fulfillment company for some period of time or for long durations.
- How much time can you devote to managing the inventory?
Fulfillment tasks require a lot of time and if you find it difficult to devote much of your time to inventory activities, then hiring a fulfillment company like Shopify fulfillment centers is a must for you.
How to select a fulfillment center?
Start your search for a fulfillment center, ask businesspersons, take help from the internet, or contact the persons directly who can provide you the fulfillment service. Make sure to always opt for a service provider that has a well-set reputation and a good track record. For comparing several service providers, you need to check the below points –
- Cost for setup
- Stacking cost for each box
- The amount for each order
- Storage cost varies by space or the way of their measurements
- Receiving packages cost
- When you have multiple SKUs, you may be required to pay the cost for each item.
- Shipping labels printing costs
- Packaging cost
Take a look at the recent customer feedback
Contacting the recent references are important to know the exact status of your fulfillment center. Make sure, you are not inquiring with old references as there are chances that they forget their interaction with the company. When meeting or contacting the reference, ask about the customer service and quality control of the company.
2. Plan a facility tour
Planning a tour, sometimes depends on your location, but you should always try your best to visit the company’s warehouse and other service centers before signing the deal. With this, you will better understand their ways of operating the facilities. Prepare some notes about their work, it will help in reviewing the estimates later.
3. Identify the quantity of shipping volume
You are definitely planning for increasing the orders within 3-4 months. In such a case, it is important to know about the amount of volume that a fulfillment center can manage. If a company has few employees then it might not work for you in the future. Find a center that has appropriate staff and all the other facilities to manage the order flow during the festive seasons.
4. Shipping schedule that matches with your requirements
Every fulfillment center follows its own procedure and policies for shipping orders. You will find some fulfillment centers having the deadline for late nights while others have the deadline of the same day. If you miss that deadline, your order will be shipped the next day. In such scenarios, you could lose your loyal customers. It impacts your sales badly, therefore, considering the shipping schedule is crucial.
5. Be sure about the error rate
Mistakes may happen with anyone and can be avoided in a few cases. You should be very sure about the error rates of the company. Along with this, ask them about their process to resolve the errors quickly. When your potential customers receive the wrong products, it is the responsibility of the fulfillment service provider to send the right products as fast as possible. Check if they can send the replacement products at a faster rate than the regular ones.