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How To Choose A Fulfillment Company

Whether your ecommerce brand is just starting out or scaling rapidly, partnering with a fulfillment company could help you avoid growing pains. A fulfillment partner is a third-party logistics specialist that operates its own fulfillment center network—so you don’t have to! Let us show you how to choose a fulfillment company

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Since a fulfillment company provides a complete suite of distribution services, you no longer have to fulfill customer orders from your business location. That leaves you free to focus on other aspects of managing your brand.

Third-Party Shipping is Growing

In 2020, global online sales increased by over 71% in the second quarter alone.

Many businesses scrambled to keep up, highlighting the importance of having a fulfillment partner. Of late, few online brands can meet Amazon Prime’s fast shipping requirements on their own. As a result, many brands turned to third-party fulfillment companies to get their orders shipped on time.

In short, if you find it increasingly hard to manage your brand’s fulfillment needs, it’s time to bring in the experts.

Third-party logistics partner

Why Your Ecommerce Business Needs to Partner With a Fulfillment Company

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by your current shipping operations. Or maybe you wonder if a third party could do a better job of optimizing these processes. Either way, there are many benefits to finding a third-party logistics partner to handle your warehousing and distribution needs. Outsourcing your distribution and warehouse services could offer many benefits:

  • Time savings. Letting fulfillment specialists take over the job boosts efficiency. It also frees you up to focus on other parts of your business.
  • Technology-enabled insights. Next-generation fulfillment companies have greater technology resources that can help optimize your business. For instance, a warehouse management system (WMS) makes it easy to track inventory. And you can use 3rd-party shipping data for inventory forecasting, ensuring you always have the right amount of product on hand. Whitebox offers additional insights from the sales side of your business as well … (insert vertical integration piece from “How to determine when your company is ready…”
  • Seamless scalability. A fulfillment partner provides the expertise, flexibility, and extra floor space you need to grow. This ensures that any period of scaling for your brand will happen smoothly. Smooth scaling is especially important during seasonal fluctuations. After all, many eCommerce businesses don’t have the resources to hire seasonal help or acquire more warehouse space to meet shifting demand. A third-party fulfillment center, on the other hand, is prepared to handle busy periods.
  • Solutions to common challenges. Partnering with a fulfillment company can save you from having to learn the hard way. Third-party logistics experts have likely seen it all before and will help you avoid common problems like fulfillment bottlenecks, running out of a product, or overstocking.
  • Cost savings. According to Deloitte, 88% of holiday shoppers prefer free shipping to receiving their orders faster. Most order fulfillment companies have contracts with shipping companies and can pass on savings to their clients. These savings could enable you to offer free or reduced shipping costs to your customers.

How to Choose Fulfillment Company to Partner With

Finding the best 3rd-party shipping partner for your company is personal. Sure, most provide three main services: warehousing, order fulfillment, and shipping.

But depending on your plans for growth, you may have other needs—like inventory management or analytics—that can help you optimize your business. In these areas, not all fulfillment companies deliver at the same level. Below are five steps to follow as you seek the right fulfillment warehouse partner for your brand.

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Determine Where You Need Help

As an ecommerce business owner, you know where you’re falling short in the fulfillment department—or what processes are simply too costly and cumbersome to handle in-house. Start by listing your pain points, so you can find the fulfillment partner best equipped to resolve them. Common challenges include the following:

  • Your shipping costs are higher than you or your customers would like.
  • Shipping mistakes lead to frequent returns.
  • Slow shipping times reduce customer satisfaction and retention.
  • An overly full schedule prevents you from expanding into growing markets or new platforms like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.

Dive Into Fee Structures

Don’t simply choose the fulfillment company that appears to have the lowest upfront cost. Hidden fees and add-on services can drive up prices. So consider the following:

  • Your shipping costs are higher than you or your customers would like.
  • Shipping mistakes lead to frequent returns.
  • Slow shipping times reduce customer satisfaction and retention.
  • An overly full schedule prevents you from expanding into growing markets or new platforms like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.

Assess the fulfillment company’s offerings

Perhaps the most important consideration is whether your prospective fulfillment partner meets your brand’s needs and plans for growth. For example, if deliveries to your customers in California aren’t arriving on time, a company with a distribution warehouse on the West Coast can help. If moving products among locations is draining your budget, a company that uses marketplace management software to determine distribution solutions will be useful. Other offerings to consider include:

  • Quality of customer service
  • Branding options, like custom packaging
  • Technology like a WMS
  • Next-generation technologies – Inventory management, WMS, Marketing Agency, and Sales expertise, and data-backed insights to help make future business decisions
  • Breadth of services: DTC, B2B, Marketplace Prep, Wholesale, Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP)
  • International logistics expertise, if you plan to expand overseas

Gauge your future partner’s expertise

Next, ask what unique insights your fulfillment partner can offer. For instance, can the provider identify areas for improvement you weren’t previously aware of? Can it suggest ways to grow your business and boost profitability using inventory and shipping analytics?

A good fulfillment company doesn’t just offer warehouse outsourcing and a network of order fulfillment centers. It also actively works with you to increase your sales, profits, and customer satisfaction.

Do your research

Ask for referrals and case studies from the fulfillment companies you are considering.

Also, check out reviews from third-party sites. If the company partners with well-known brands that are achieving goals similar to yours, that’s a good sign.

Learn More About Whitebox

Whitebox is a third-party logistics provider for every type of business. Whether you’re new to ecommerce, selling faster than you can fulfill, or want to expand to wholesale, Whitebox fulfillment services will grow with you.

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Whitebox Health Report

The Whitebox Health Report is a great first step in optimizing your listings. Our in-depth report gathers data from your listings, keywords search data, and competitive listings to score your listing and provide data-backed recommendations on opportunities and optimizations.

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