If you are a company that sells goods, you are likely familiar with the basic inventory solutions. Ecommerce businesses in particular are looking for options which suit their business model. Warehousing solutions are one option, but there are yet more efficient opportunities in the marketplace. Fulfillment centers are gaining in popularity with retailers of all sizes, and for good reason.
Fulfillment Center vs. Warehouse
Best Ecommerce Fulfillment Center
When you are looking for the best ecommerce fulfillment center for your needs, you should keep in mind a service that can provide satisfactory answers to these questions.
Do you handle inventory management?
Yes, fulfillment centers should receive inventory, sort, and shelf products in their appropriate locations. This may be their bin, shelf, or pallet. They need to keep precise track of what units they have on hand so they can notify their clients when stock is low. This will mean that they can efficiently fulfil and ship out orders and receive new stock in a timely fashion. To manage inventory, most fulfillment centers will provide technology to assist ecommerce companies in remotely managing their inventories. Inventory tracking tools can assist in alerting you to the need to proactively reorder product so as to avoid stockouts.
What square footage will I require?
The answer to that question depends on several factors. The number of unique SQUs you have will be one. For example, a company which sells different necklace charms online will need a separate storage location for each color and design variation. Order volume is another. If you are shipping 150 orders a month or less, you may be able to keep your inventory and shipping in-house. However, if you’re shipping several thousand customer orders each month, space to scale your fulfillment operation and store excess inventory can be vital in avoiding stockouts. It’s also important to have a growth plan in place so that you don’t immediately outgrow the solution you select for your company.
Can a fulfillment center provide one- or two-day delivery?
Many fulfillment centers do offer expedited delivery options, including same-day or two-day shipping. These services depend on where the fulfillment center is located, the technology and operations in place at the center, and of course, which shipping carriers are used.
How does your order processing work?
Typically, after a customer adds a product to their shopping cart and makes a purchase from the client, the order begins processing. The details of the order will be sent from the client’s sales channel to the fulfillment center’s technology. This alerts the center staff to pick and pack the ordered products, label the package, and ship it. Tracking information can be relayed to the ecommerce platform and shared with the customer in real time, so they are aware of their order’s progress.
What is a good price for fulfillment solutions?
Consider your company fulfils customer orders itself. You’re paying for storage space, equipment, labor, the warehouse management system, workers’ comp and insurance, packing supplies, postage, and other sundry expenses. The exact cost of in-house fulfillment is often underestimated. Outsourcing fulfillment can be more or less expensive depending on the fulfillment company you partner with. Fees generally include receiving your inventory, storing items, and shipping products. Some providers may charge for each individual task, such as picking, packing, and other line items. Even if outsourcing can be more expensive than self-fulfillment, the time it saves can make it more efficient for a company. Examine each potential fulfillment partner’s costs closely to see what is right for your business.