There are many valid reasons for starting a search for quality point of sale fulfillment solutions. You may be outgrowing your existing, in-house order fulfillment capacity, for instance, or you might be struggling with the complex matrix of on-site inventory storage. You may want to refocus your energies on more important aspects of your business, such as order generation, research and development, or expansion rather than on warehousing and distribution. Or you may simply want to streamline your ordering and distribution processes, utilizing today's best, up-to-the-minute technologies.
Finding the right service provider
The benefits to outsourcing your point of sale fulfillment services are tangible. The 2013 Third Party Logistics Study reports measurable benefits to shippers who choose third party logistic providers, including reduced shipping costs, reduced excess inventory costs, and savings on fixed assets. The study shows an average logistics costs reduction of 15 percent, an average inventory costs savings of 8 percent, and an average savings through fixed asset reductions of a whopping 26 percent!
But, just because you've made that decision to outsource, doesn't mean it's easy to choose the right partner. So how do you choose the right service provider?
Cost may jump straight to mind as an important factor, and rightfully so. We all have a bottom line to watch, after all. But, as a quick trip to almost any store will prove, the cheapest product is hardly ever the best. The cheapest thing on the shelf is usually the first to break and the first to need replacing -- at additional cost, of course. While cost must be taken into account, don't let it be the only factor you weigh when choosing your order fulfillment solutions.
Here are five important aspects you may have overlooked when making this all-important business decision.
You need an order fulfillment partner who responds quickly to the day-to-day needs of your customers, filling their orders quickly and shipping them promptly. Fast, efficient service can make the difference between a repeat customer and a lost sale. Your order fulfillment company should also have the agility to accommodate changes in your workload or your inventory.
2. Technological innovation.
Every day new technologies show us ways to do things better, faster and cheaper. You want a fulfillment service that stays on technology's cutting edge. Look for services that let you manage your inventory online, for instance, track and record shipments, or even collate customer data.
You may have heard real estate agents say, "location is everything." The same is true in the world of order fill. Centralized warehouse locations are key to lowering expenses and satisfying customers, cutting shipping time, trimming down costs and getting your products to your customers more efficiently.
4. Capacity for growth.
While shipping your products efficiently may be your goal today, you may have other priorities tomorrow. Look for a point of sale fulfillment partner who can grow as your company grows. It should be able to scale your order fulfillment needs to match your company's growth. Also look for a fulfillment partner that offers additional services such as inventory tracking, for example, or customer support. While you may not need these services at the moment, as your company expands, they may become invaluable tools.
Choose an order fulfillment company that addresses your physical and electronic business security concerns. The warehouse that stores your inventory should have safeguards against theft, for example. And, with identity theft at an all-time high, the financial data your company and your customers share must also be secure.
Choosing the right order fulfillment solution for your business is essential to its ability to grow and thrive. Keep all of these important points in mind when choosing an order-fulfillment partner.