Does your fulfillment services provider meet your demands during crunch time
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Does your fulfillment services provider meet your demands during crunch time

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If you've done much research trying to find fulfillment support for your company's e-commerce business, you know that fulfillment companies are not created equal. Some are geared to large companies ...

If you've done much research trying to find fulfillment support for your company's e-commerce business, you know that fulfillment companies are not created equal. Some are geared to large companies with high order volume; others are more focused on serving specific products that require special storage, packaging and shipping requirements.

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Does your fulfillment services provider meet your demands during crunch time Does your fulfillment services provider meet your demands during crunch time Document Transcript

  • Does Your Fulfillment ServicesProvider Meet Your DemandsDuring Crunch Time?If youve done much research trying to find fulfillment support for your companys e-commerce business, you know that fulfillment companies are not created equal. Someare geared to large companies with high order volume; others are more focused onserving specific products that require special storage, packaging and shippingrequirements.In todays economy, many companies count on generating as much as 80 percent oftheir annual revenue during the holiday period. If your company is one that thrives onseasonal sales or depends on that end-of-the-year crunch to make your annualnumbers, be sure you choose a provider that has the facilities, personnel and processesto help you during your peak season. Otherwise, if you dont get it right during thatspecific time-frame, you could experience a long dry spell before your next peak rollsaround on the calendar.Whether you currently work with a fulfillment company or are looking for the right fitfor your merchandise, consider the following:• Customer ServiceEven though your customers may never see your fulfillment provider, the customerservice department in that company plays a critical role during the ordering process. Asa reflection of your company, the impression they make is extremely important. Andwhile todays shoppers enjoy the convenience of online ordering for the most part,having to address customer service issues via email leaves an impersonal impressionwith a customer who is anxious to clear up a problem or has questions about an order.If customer service is important to you (and it should be at the top of your list) youshould contract with a fulfillment company that allows customers to call and discuss anyissues with a live operator. Lets face it, most people would prefer to speak withsomeone who can take care of a problem directly and provide them with an answerand/or solution. In fact, waiting for resolution of a problem concerning an order that isa gift, or is needed by a specific date (think Christmas!) does not create customergoodwill, repeat purchases or recommendations for your business.
  • The best way to guarantee that shoppers receive the level of service they deserve is towork with a fulfillment company that offers a dedicated Account Manager for youraccount. This person should oversee all aspects of your business so when any issuesarise, you can depend on a single contact to oversee, troubleshoot, correct, report andkeep you informed of any problems that occur with your business.• Accurate, Timely DeliveriesAccurate deliveries can be the difference between repeat business and complaints thatcan "go viral" to other customers and prospects. No customer wants to hear that anorder for an in-demand product that was placed for a holiday or birthday gift wasincorrectly taken when the item cannot be re-ordered in time for that special day.Ask your fulfillment provider about its accuracy rate. If the response is a generalstatement - "our accuracy is somewhere over 90 percent" - it may mean that they donot track their accuracy seriously. Ask if, and how they measure their accuracy and getexamples of the rate for some specific clients. (Also check out the client list and ask ifyou can get references from other businesses.) Make sure you have safeguards in placeto ensure that orders are taken correctly and can be shipping in a timely manner,especially during high volume seasons.By checking out a fulfillment providers website, you should be able to see how long it isexpected to take for packages to be delivered in different parts of the country. Keep inmind that shipping from the central part of the U.S. allows for all packages to arrivewithin three business days - something your customers will appreciate. In fact, if anitem cant be delivered in time for the specific occasion, most customers will simply notorder it, especially if they have to pay a higher fee for expedited service.• FlexibilityMake sure you choose a fulfillment provider that can and will make changes in itsprocesses as you experience peaks and valleys in your sales cycle. If your productdemand is seasonal, will additional personnel be available to handle increased orders?Does the facility provide ample room for increased inventory (including anytemperature-control requirements for maintaining product quality)?When your product is in demand, your fulfillment partner is a key link in the connectionbetween you and your customers. Make sure that link is strong.