Locating the right company for pharmaceutical fulfillment can be a difficult process.
Unlike clothing or other general retail fulfillment, the products that vitamin and supplement companies offer can be highly volatile. There are plenty of companies that can handle standard logistics with products that never expire, but it takes a special set of skill to manage vitamins and supplements. Because of their delicate nature, 3rd party logistics companies who hope to handle these products should have their process set up with expiration dates and fast processing in mind.
Anatomy of an Ideal Pharmaceutical Fulfillment Partner
If your fulfillment partner doesn’t keep a close eye on the expiration dates of your products, you could lose a lot of money very quickly as returns come pouring in and products in the warehouse become unsellable.
As you’re interviewing potential logistics partners, make sure to ask about these items:
Stock rotation. It’s vital that your new 3PL look closely at expiration dates and push the oldest stock to the front of the rotation for the pick, pack and ship process first. Newer stock should always be moved to the back of the line because it will have a much longer shelf life than the products that have already been in the warehouse a while. Although you’d never want to send expired products to customers, sending out the newest stock first just means that you’re going to waste a lot of money on products than languish on the shelves.
Distribution speed. Customers ordering vitamins and supplements typically need these products quickly. Between that and the sometimes-delicate nature of the orders themselves, it’s vital that your orders ship quickly and don’t spend too long in transit. Choosing a 3PL that’s centrally located in relation to shipping means that your customers will always receive products that are fresh and potent.
Reverse logistics. Although it’s important that any 3PL have a reasonable plan in place for reverse logistics, when it comes to pharmaceutical fulfillment, this goes double. When returns are difficult, customers will sometimes drag out the process and the end result is that the vitamins or supplements that are returned unopened are still unsellable because they’ve expired. Reverse logistics should be about loss prevention as much as it is about customer retention, especially when delicate products are involved.
There are plenty of vitamin and supplement fulfillment services available, but it’s important that you don’t just hire the first one that you come across using Google. Make a short list of the companies that seem to offer the services you need, then interview them carefully about their policies and practices. If you can view the warehouse (either in-person or via online video), so much the better. Referrals and customer reviews can also help when it comes to choosing a 3PL partner for supplements.