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Shipping and Fulfillment Services

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5 Questions to ask a potential fulfillment and distribution partner

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Fulfillment and Distribution Partner

With an extensive global economy, fulfillment encompasses much more than shipping and receiving. A good fulfillment partner will help your business with a variety of operational tasks including customer service, billing and finance, warehousing and inventory tracking, internet marketing, analytics, technical support, and more.
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Shipping and fulfillment services get your customers their orders quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Many factors influence customer satisfaction, but one of the most important things is the order
fulfillment process. When you get that part of your operations right, you'll see it reflected in customer
reviews, praising you for getting orders processed and shipped out quickly. When fulfillment has
problems, you end up getting a lot of negative reviews. It doesn’t matter how great the rest of your
customer experience is. If you’re getting the last step in the process wrong, then that’s going to be the
impression they’re left with.


When you’re starting to scale up and your B2B or B2c order volume has you falling behind in-house, a
3PL shipping and fulfillment partner can be one of the best investments for your business. The primary
benefit to using this type of service is to outsource the areas of your operations that are difficult to
support in-house. You get to focus more of your resources on your core business, while the 3PL takes
over getting the orders out to the customers.

 

Using This Service

 

The primary services that a 3PL offers include a customized pick and pack plan for your business, which
includes single items, full cases, and custom kitting, freight management for efficient use of freight for
your products, and a tried and tested supply chain technology center.


Consider that the 3PL’s entire business model revolves around a quality fulfillment and shipping service.
They invest heavily in the solutions that increase productivity and speed up shipping time. For example,
highly advanced fulfillment systems offer real-time updates on your orders, allowing you to know
exactly where a shipment is whenever a customer calls in for help. These types of systems use RF
technology coupled with inline quality systems to maintain the accuracy of the solution.
Additional Services


3PL companies offer many other services to support your fulfillment needs:

 

  • Integration with popular ecommerce platforms: If you use one of the bigger ecommerce
    platforms, then the ideal 3PL company will already has support built-in for that solution. While
    custom programming can be an option, you speed up your set up and configuration time when
    you don’t have to worry about that part of the process.
  • Order processing: Through this integration with your systems, they can pull the orders and begin
    processing without you needing to manually send over this information. That speeds up how
    quickly orders get fulfilled.
  • Customer support: If you don’t have enough in-house resources to cover customer support for
    people wanting to know about their order statuses, then you can work with a 3PL that has their
    own resources for this part of the operation.
  • Returns management: Processing returns, and refunds can eat up a lot of resources. The 3PL can
    include this service with the rest of the fulfillment duties that they’re handling.
  • Fast and flexible delivery options: You get access to more options than your typical standard
    delivery service. The 3PL has relationships with many shippers, often at lower negotiated
    shipping costs than the ones that you have available.
  • User-friendly and robust online portal: The backend of the 3PL system should be intuitive and
    comprehensive in its scope. While you may not do a lot with this side of things, as the 3PL can
    integrate directly with your systems, it’s good to know what the back-end capabilities are.
  • Repackaging: If you want to put together promotional packaging or special kits, you can request
    this service from the 3PL. They can help you develop many types of product bundles and
    promotional materials.
  • Product recycling: What happens to all the materials that don’t get used or are headed to the
    trash? Look for a 3PL solution that tries to use everything it possibly can and ensure that the
    disposal of leftover waste is compliant with local, state and federal regulations.
  • Custom packing slips and materials: If you have custom inserts for your packages, the 3PL makes
    sure that they head out the warehouse door.
  • Product recall: Product recalls are a massive headache logistically. You must handle the PR
    nightmare that you’re in the middle of, while taking on a large loss at the same time. The 3PL
    makes things easier by taking over this process and meeting the legal requirements for the
    recall.

Channels that Benefit from Shipping and Fulfillment Services

Here are some sales channels that receive significant benefits from getting fulfillment and shipping
services filled by a 3PL.

E-commerce Stores

 

E-commerce stores are the obvious choice when it comes to a perfect match for 3PL services. You
already limit your overhead by not needing a physical retail location to support your online store, so you
can continue that cost effectiveness via 3PL.


Social Media Shopping


More social media sites are integrating shopping into their own platforms. If you have a large and active
social media following, then you can get the extra help for fulfilling the increased order volume. They
can also support your ongoing growth.


Flash Sale Promotions


You know that your demand is going to go through the roof with a deeply discounted sales event. Have
your 3PL partner on standby, ready to scale up in an instant.