What do you do when your e-commerce business has outgrown your garage or small office? What happens when you find yourself in need of more storage space and help fulfilling orders? You look for help from a Third Party Logistics (3PL) firm, of course! The first thing you’ll probably do when choosing a 3PL is hit the web to search for 3PLs with full-service fulfillment. After doing a few searches and browsing a few sites, it’s likely you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with choices. With all those order fulfillment companies out there, how do you know which one to pick?
Whether your inventory consists of 80 boxes of knit hats or 125 crates of Italian designer watches, you don’t want to trust it to just anyone. Here are five key features you should evaluate when choosing a fulfillment provider.
When choosing a 3PL, look for a company that is modern, agile, and technology-oriented. Logistics has become a tech-heavy industry, and a fully-integrated logistics platform is necessary to properly manage the fulfillment process.
The ideal logistics platform includes store and order management, inventory management, ASNs (Advance Shipping Notifications), shipping, and returns. It should be able to keep track of orders across multiple channels and fulfillment centers and integrate seamlessly with your online store.
Your 3PL must have the ability to scale with you and adjust on the fly as demand fluctuates. This includes the ability to store increasing amounts of inventory as well as to ship a growing volume of orders quickly and efficiently.
Different 3PLs have different storage capacities. Make sure your choice of 3PL has enough storage space for your current inventory, as well as enough space to accommodate you as you grow. And make sure they have the staff to keep up with increasing demand.
Strategically-Located Warehouses for Faster Delivery
Some fulfillment companies only have one warehouse. For brands that plan to sell in a limited area, this might be fine. But if you want to sell nationally, or even globally, a single-warehouse 3PL probably won’t cut the mustard.
Look for a fulfillment partner that has several warehouses spread across the U.S. and maybe even a few well-placed facilities overseas. That way, you can ship globally with both faster delivery and lower cost. Your customers will be happier, and you’ll be able to scale globally with a minimum of effort.
When you’re relying on someone else to take care of an important part of your business, you want to know what’s going on at all times. That’s what transparency is all about. With a good logistics platform, you’ll be able to see how much of each product is in stock in each warehouse. You’ll be able to see when orders come in and when they’re fulfilled. That way, you’ll stay informed and in control of the entire process.
Comprehensive Service Options
Standard fulfillment is all about picking, packing, and shipping your orders. But the best fulfillment companies have options that go beyond the bare minimum. When choosing a 3PL, make sure they can handle your returns, perform work orders for larger requests (e.g., LTL shipments, inventory audits, adding inserts to packages, re-barcoding), and maybe even offer support for your customers. 3PLs that go above and beyond are more than fulfilment providers—they are post-purchase partners that can help your business grow.
At Simple Global, our Full-Service Order Fulfillment solution is vertically integrated, meaning our network of fulfillment centers, support services, and cloud-based ONE platform are combined to handle all elements of the post-purchase experience. Vertical integration allows us to help your company scale globally while making sure your customers get their orders filled correctly and on time. Contact Simple Global today for a free quote.