Hiring a fulfillment services company is a bit like getting married. You’re entering a relationship that should last a long time – a partnership you can depend on. So it’s important to choose a company that shares your business values and standards; one that commits to understanding your goals and helping you grow.
Here are 6 key areas you should investigate and consider before you say ‘I do’ to a fulfillment company.
1. Credentials & Credibility – When it comes to the logistics of receiving, storing, managing and shipping your inventory, experience counts. Fulfillment is a critical link in your supply chain, and it requires expertise to do it well.
2. Capabilities – As businesses grow, their fulfillment needs inevitably change. You may only be looking for pick and pack fulfillment right now. But do you really want to be forced to look for another vendor as your needs evolve?
To avoid that possibility, look for a partner with the broadest range of related services. These might include:
- Pick and Pack Fulfillment
- Customized Kits and Booklets
- Online Ordering and Inventory Management
- Print Management
- Design on Demand
- Point-of-Sale and Point-of-Purchase Fulfillment
- Lead Response Fulfillment
- Regulatory Compliance
3. Quality Assurance – Fulfillment plays a critical role in reaching and influencing your customers, prospects, distributors and other key stakeholders. It’s important that your materials and messaging arrive on time and in good condition. Toward that end, be sure to inquire about:
- Standard turnaround times,
- Receiving processes,
- Inventory audits,
- Quality control,
- Client input.
4. Customer Support – Working relationships, like personal relationships, require teamwork and good communication. Your fulfillment company should also provide a dedicated account manager who can respond quickly to your inquiries and facilitate any sudden changes in your workload or program parameters.
5. Security & Confidentiality – Just as you want a bank to protect your money, you want your fulfillment company to protect your inventory and data. Ask for details on physical security systems and procedures. And if your inventory includes high-value items or printed information that is confidential or proprietary, ask what additional measures are in place to protect them.
6. Transition Management – Making the move from in-house fulfillment or another company involves more than just boxing up your inventory and moving it to a new location. There’s a lot of data to be captured and systems to be integrated – often from other third parties, as well as your own company. Be sure to get details on prospective companies’ implementation processes, including specific steps, time frames and who is responsible at each point along the way.
Getting detailed information up front from a potential fulfillment services partner lets you make a fair comparison and choose the one that best matches your company’s goals and requirements. If you get off on the right foot, you should enjoy a long and happy ‘marriage’ that helps your business thrive.