Working with a shipping and fulfillment center has many benefits for your business, but like any business relationship, it is important to check in and ask vital questions from time to time. When checking in, you can evaluate how the partnership is going and how it can be improved.This article will detail four pointed questions to ask yourself about current fulfillment center to assess how things are going and how to evaluate how the partnership is benefitting your business.
1. How Reliable Is Your Current Service Provider?
Reliability is the most coveted attribute in a business partner. Your ecommerce business is only as good as its ability to deliver quality products to your clients when they need it most. You want to know that you can rely on your shipping and fulfillment center partner to meet your customers’ expectations. If an issue arises, you should be able to count on your shipping and fulfillment center partner tobe there to help. Any doubts should be promptly addressed to ensure that there aren’t problems moving forward.
One way to ask about and gauge reliability is to see if the provider offers an inventory and order accuracy guarantee and what it entails. In these types of guarantees, the vendor agrees to cover the cost of any lost or damaged goods. If an order is not fulfilled accurately, the guarantee will ensure that the fulfillment center pays for the shipment and possibly an inconvenience fee as well.
If the fulfillment center does not offer something like this, it might be a sign to consider another option or maybe ask about incorporating a guarantee into your service agreement.
2. What Does Their Security Look Like, and What Are the Measures Put in Place?
Safety and security is another vital aspect of the partnership between your company and your shipping and fulfillment center. Securing the products and goods to be shipped out is just as important as sending them out. Ask your fulfillment center about their security measures that are currently in place and how well they are maintained. As the client, you have every right to know how your product is being stored and watched over in the warehouse at all times. Check out some of our warehouse locations to see how ours are handled
3. What Are Their Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and What Are the Outcomes of a Failed Order or Fulfillment?
Service level agreements are similar to inventory and order accuracy guarantees, but instead of the monetary aspect of a failed order, SLAs deal with the operations aspect. For example, if an order that was supposed to be sent in 24 hours does not get sent within that time, the customers might feel as though they want a resolution for this error, so the fulfillment center agrees to accept blame for the failed order. It’s essential to understand the difference between distribution vs. warehousing vs. fulfillment to ensure you’re getting the best service.
4. How Easily Can Shopping Carts be Integrated Into Their Warehouse and Order Management Systems?
One of the perks of working with a fulfillment center is the ease of having orders be placed from your website and then automatically sent to the fulfillment center’s system. This can only happen successfully and seamlessly with the right technology in place. To ensure smooth shipping every time and that the IT is up to par, ask more about their IT resources, integration management experience, and customer portal and make sure to request a demo of the system to fully help you fully understand the process.
5. How Is the Partnership Benefitting You and Your Company?
You should be asking yourself and your company questions, as well as your fulfillment center. While you should always be evaluating the external partnership, your own team’s engagement in the process should also be an important aspect to consider. Some questions to ask yourself about warehouse operations before, during, and after working with a fulfillment center might be:
- Are we sharing the right information with our fulfillment partner?
- What is the level of efficiency of our current fulfillment center?
- Are there any areas where they are lacking, and what could be improved?
- Do we feel that we can voice those ideas or opinions to improve business operations?
Ideally, you want your fulfillment center to support and work efficiently with you, but sometimes there are problems that arise. You want to be able to voice concerns and ideas for improvement, and working with a fulfillment center that can take constructive feedback and is willing to improve is advantageous. With over 55 years of experience providing our clients with reliable service, we’ve learned that the best partnerships come from honest communication and collaboration. If you find your current company is unable to meet your standards, contact WSI Supply Chain Solutions.