You’ve decided to outsource. Amazing! Before you take that next step in your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll want to do your due diligence to ensure every aspect of your operation is set up for outsourcing success.
At ShipMonk, we care about our ecommerce clients and always want them to be aware of the ins and outs of their order fulfillment. Once you’re a part of our fulfillment family, you’ll find that in our industry-leading, user-friendly order fulfillment platform. As you prepare for that migration though, our logistics experts have put together this guide to show how to achieve the best transition possible when you go from in-house to outsourced order fulfillment.
By now we hope we’ve convinced you of the wonders of outsourcing order fulfillment. If so, you’re likely eager to take this next step in your entrepreneurial journey. Before you do, read our outline below for how to achieve the most awesome transition possible when you go from in-house to outsourced order fulfillment.
Perform Due Diligence
When you first team up with your new 3PL, it’s a good idea to delineate your current fulfillment process so you can compare and contrast with what your 3PL offers. If you have any special requirements or a preferred method of doing things, make sure to address them. You want your new fulfillment center to have all the tools and info necessary to accomplish your vision and stick to your brand requirements and guidelines.
If you’re local, we strongly suggest visiting your fulfillment center so you can meet the team and get acquainted with what they have to offer, as well as see their systems in action. ShipMonk has 12 worldwide state-of-the-art locations, but for ecommerce brand owners who are not physically located near any of our facilities, we highly encourage them to watch a 360 Guided Video Tour of our Florida headquarters so they can familiarize themselves with our operation. Other key areas to investigate before signing on with a 3PL include:
- Years of experience
- Client testimonials
- Services offered
- Customization options
- How user-friendly is the software?
- Facility locations
- International options
- A range of flexible shipping services
Set Expectations Early
We can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you want the smoothest transition possible, setting and communicating your expectations is an absolute must. That way both you and your new fulfillment partner will be on the same page. While individual needs may vary, here are some baseline questions you may want to ask a potential 3PL provider:
- What are your operating hours?
- How quickly should I expect replies to support requests?
- Can you handle customized packaging and packing procedures?
- What are your returns and claims policies?
- How do you handle customer service issues?
- Are you able to fully integrate your software with my shopping cart(s) or marketplace(s)?
- What kind of reporting features do you offer?
- How will I be able to manage my orders and inventory?
- Do you plan on expanding your operation to new locations?
- How do you adjust for businesses that have strong holiday sales/seasonality?
- What is the international fulfillment situation like?
- What kind of cost fluctuations can I expect as my business grows?
- How much flexibility do you offer for sudden changes in sales volume?
- What is the reverse logistics situation like?
- How do you handle problems with supply and demand?
One of the hallmarks of a great 3PL is the ability to thoughtfully and thoroughly answer your questions, so don’t shy away from getting to the nitty gritty and diving into the details! After all, your fulfillment center is there to help you.
Really Get to Know Your 3PL
Like any great relationship, don’t rush it! Start things off on the right foot by taking the time to get to know your new 3PL. If they know what they’re doing, they’ll reciprocate the sentiment and get to know your brand just as thoroughly.
When you’re getting ready to commit to a 3PL, make sure you understand their company goals, check to see if their values align with yours, explore client testimonials, get a custom quote for your business, talk directly with an onboarding team member about what you’re looking for and how they can help. Don’t seal any deals if you feel uncomfortable or have hesitations about the people you’re working with. Similarly, if your intuition is all for it, trust your gut and get ready to make magic happen!
Consider the Relationship of Cost vs. Value
Ever looked at a price tag and thought it was too good to be true? More often than not, super low rates mean cutting corners and compromising on quality. That’s not the move you want to make when outsourcing your order fulfillment. You may think you’re saving a lot of money upfront, but you know the saying: “You get what you pay for.” You want the best technology, the best support, and the best service offerings if you’re going to outsource any part of your operation. So be sure you know what you’re getting on all fronts so that you aren’t blindsided with hidden fees, and later you don’t feel like you’re lacking on service because you went with a 3PL that doesn’t offer as much.
We aren’t denying that cost is a big part of the decision-making process. We’re just arguing that it shouldn’t be the only one. In other words, instead of looking for the cheapest 3PLs, look for ones that price fairly for a great value, but also come with a robust offering that will help you grow. You won’t regret it!
Set Your Ecommerce Brand up for Success
The key to any endeavor is preparation and persistence. Through this blog, and all of ShipMonk’s other valuable ecommerce resources, we aim to set incoming ecommerce clients up for success as they make the move to outsource their order fulfillment. Once you’ve transitioned, our 3PL brings the persistence to the table to match yours as we do everything in our power to help you grow your ecommerce brand.
If that sounds like the partner you want to work with, contact us now. We’re excited to help you start the next chapter in your awesome ecommerce journey!