There's a lot to be said in business about working with a trustworthy fulfillment partner - costs are more or less fixed, pick-ups are reliable and deliveries can be transparently - and often automatically - relayed to the customer to keep them in the loop. If your fulfillment center is putting blind faith in your carrier, however, the associated risks may very well outweigh those benefits. The contingency plan is the most important tool in building and supporting an agile business in the modern market, and putting one in place for your deliveries is a move you need to make right now.
What Isn't Brown Doing for You?
Every package you send is a promise to its recipient - there's a reason it's called fulfillment. John Haber of Supply & Demand Chain Executive reported in June that UPS has been falling short of that promise to their client base, with a lawsuit from the federal government to the tune of 25 million dollars. The "Boys in Brown" had been falsifying delivery reports for overnight packages for more than a decade, according to data collected by the government, often citing "could not deliver" codes that were inapplicable to a given delivery in order to escape the refund window. While the settlement may cause drivers to think twice before attempting that kind of dishonesty with the government, it isn't a stretch to wonder if they'll be that contentious with clients that have less legal resources to throw around on tracking and litigation. How invested are you in your delivery accuracy? If the only time you look into a receiving event is during a problem or complaint, it may be time to start keeping more involved records that don't drop off when your package leaves the warehouse.
How Likely Are They To Cut Corners?Keeping your head down and moving forward might work reasonably well as a low-level employee, but as a supply chain manager at a fulfillment center, it's a recipe for disaster. Keeping an ear to the ground for industry news involving your main carrier, such as the recent Dimensional (DIM) Weight Pricing employed by UPS and FedEx, will help prevent you from being blindsided by price increases. Potential weather or sociopolitical-rooted delays can be planned for, and shipment practices that might save them money at the cost of sacrificing your customer service can be halted before they become SOP. Proactive involvement and advocacy on the part of your fulfillment decisions will help keep your company from becoming their profit casualty in a pinch.
How Do They Treat Their Employees?
You may be very careful to stay on the right side of the law in terms of your own employees' treatment, but that doesn't mean fulfillment partners like UPS and FedEx are doing the same. Hayley Peterson of Business Insider brings up a troubling strike that cost 250 NY-based UPS drivers their jobs, while Forbes' Robert Wood highlights the ongoing issues FedEx is tangling with over mislabeled independent contractor status for drivers. These aren't simply internal squabbles - if your route's driver was one of the individuals involved in these events, you would decidedly feel the pain on a personal fulfillment level. When their supply chains are disrupted, yours isn't far behind, which is why you can't afford to ignore trouble brewing at the employee level. Even though it isn't your company, strikes, walkouts and legal issues are very much in a position to disrupt your fulfillment center, even from across the country.
Your fulfillment center needs to stay ahead of carrier delays, trouble and concerning contract changes to prevent problems from growing outside your sphere of influence. Safeguard your fulfillment by taking a closer look at who handles your packages after you do - you may be surprised at the gaps in quality or consistency you discover.