Wednesday, 30 January 2013 Written by Bob Klunk
A guide to finding the one that will meet your shipping and logistics needs.
Starting your own business takes an incredible amount of energy, focus, and time. As you try to accomplish your revenue goals, evaluate customer feedback, and form a resourceful and reliable team, you can be overwhelmed quickly by your daily duties. Fulfillment companies (like NPFulfilment) help allow you to focus on larger goals by taking on the jobs of storing, picking, packing, and shipping your customers’ orders. Finding the right company for this significant responsibility can greatly benefit your business and schedule.
1.The Benefits of a Fulfillment Company
Starting a new business takes not only dedication but also knowing how your time and focus can best be utilized. Time management is vital to launching and expanding your venture. Most entrepreneurs start a business based on what they know — you have a true passion and formidable experience with your product or service. You rush out of the starting blocks with this passion and energy but soon find your energy and focus is diluted by fundraising, updating technology, sourcing, and writing endless purchase orders. On top of that, you have your legal and accounting needs and your investors’ desire for instant results. Things get complicated quickly.
In this whirlwind of activity, running to the post office or office supply store to ship your orders can become a very time consuming chore that doesn’t allow you to focus on your vision. No doubt it is the factor that drives your business, but it can consume you. Online retailers need a way to deliver the passion they feel in their products to their customers through competitive and professional means. Fulfillment companies take on those daily responsibilities and efficiently meet those needs
2. Finding the Perfect Partner
Just as you would seek quality vendors to make your product or deliver your service, you should also look closely at the outbound side your business. Your fulfillment company should also be your logistics expert. It deals with inbound and outbound freight and should be able to help with domestic and overseas sourcing and adherence to customs guidelines. Your fulfillment company should also support your e-commerce platform and vice versa. An experienced fulfillment company will have strong recommendations for which technology to choose in order to reliably benefit your business.
The best way to select a fulfillment partner is through a solid referral. Consider these questions as you are seeking that partner:
• Who are my peers using and why? Does the company have experience delivering my service or product?
• Does the company have up-to-date technology and can they provide seamless integration to my shopping cart?
• Are they too small to have the capabilities you require? Are they too big so you’ll just feel like a number?
• Does the company provide the customer experience you desire with personalized logos, promotional materials, or gift-wrapping? Does it handle returns?
• For convenience, is the warehouse close to you? Are there multiple facilities to reduce time and cost for delivery?
Once you have found a partner that can deliver the service you need to succeed, it is important to develop a working layout and sample plan with that partner so possible conflicts can be addressed and effective solutions found to make your experience as worry-free as possible.
3. Planning Your Partnership
To determine the parameters of your future collaboration, you should have more than just a rate sheets and a list of services provided. Your partner should be able to recognize and emphasize your priorities. An initial one-on-one interview is a positive step in forming a lasting and reliable bond. The fulfillment company should be able to be a leader in logistics and have the ability to guide you towards positive distribution methods for your business.
During your initial meeting, you should propose sales projections and partnership milestones you intend to keep. This assists both parties in aligning mutual goals. Direct and immediate communication on both ends should be stresses so if a problem arises, it can be dealt with quickly. In addition, this is a prime opportunity to discuss the details of the operation, such as how invoice forms are formatted and the practical and desired speed in processing incoming orders.
Today’s high-speed (and high-stress) world demands an extensive amount of time and focus from entrepreneurs. By prioritizing your time and finding a fulfillment partner that will go above and beyond in meeting your expectations, you can really focus on building and expanding your business. Knowing that your products or services are handled and delivered by professionals who understand fine details and customer satisfaction can benefit your time management needs and allow you to take a more global approach to your success.
Bob Klunk is the Director of Fulfillment Services at Distribution Management, Inc., a shipping and fulfillment company that focuses on creating your brand experience, not just shipping a box.