No company wants to be thought of as old, or outdated.
Openly embracing new technology, unique marketing angles and product development is a philosophy that's worked for some of the biggest names in the business—but only when innovation and progress are adopted across the breadth of an operation.
Too often, an organization will channel all of their efforts into making the "face" of a company an appealing, but the mechanics and backend behind that face (fulfillment and distribution, for example) need to be up to the task of supporting it.
Too Much Change, Not Enough Constant
Marketing campaigns, outreach and even price points can be quickly changed to reflect conditions in the marketplace, but changing your entire fulfillment process is a little more difficult.
A stable, proven logistics and fulfillment provider isn't likely to slide off the map because it lost venture funding or was upstaged by startup. A well-established company looks on such setbacks as opportunities to improve.
Using a distribution partner with a proven track record ensures that moving your product won't become another fire you'll need to put out while you're busy with product development or advertising. With a strong backbone supporting your supply chain, you can funnel effort into other areas and improve your product and company instead of chasing down a lost, delayed or damaged box.
Will They Work In The Future?
New developments in distribution concepts—such as "non cab" company Uber's recent launch of the UberRUSH product delivery service in New York— are certainly thought provoking. It's important to note, however, that these innovations have yet to be truly tested—the concept is just as likely to turn into a logistical nightmare that renders your fulfillment subpar as it is to be the next big thing for distribution.
In the case of Uber, which started as a cab-like company with an emphasis in chauffeured transport, the concept of moving goods, in addition to people, sounds great on the surface. But boutique fulfillment services are, by their nature, limited in scope.
UberRUSH may be able to provide fast and convenient delivery of small packages, but that’s about it. No customization, no market data (though the service’s current driver tracking technology does have some interesting potential), no integration, and a small service area—Uber’s package delivery is currently limited to a very small segment of Manhattan.
How Will Your Products Arrive?
Speed and distance are not the only concepts to be considered when choosing logistics, as any company that's received a broken or damaged box of products will attest.
An experienced fulfillment and distribution company will have the vehicles, equipment and training necessary to ensure safe transport— not just a fast ride. People and products, after all, require very different padding and securing, and your box is unable to advocate for itself if the ride gets a little bumpy along the way.
Damaged products are bad business no matter how you look at them, and the wrong fulfillment choice can make these complaints an ongoing headache. Your distribution company should be able to examine your current fulfillment process, make suggestions for improvement if needed, and offer a smooth, transparent experience getting your products and materials from point A to point B.
Fulfillment and distribution are the last steps your products take before ending up in the hands of your customers, which puts these two tasks on par with development, production and marketing outreach in terms of importance.
You wouldn't put an untrained engineer in your factory or allow a marketing intern to design your nationwide commercials without oversight, so why take the risk of your supply chain ending up with weak points or, worse, broken?
Skip the boutiques and go with a fulfillment company that's knowledgeable about your needs, not one that hides lack of expertise behind slick advertising.