The time has come to outsource your e-fulfilment. Whether it’s taking up too much of your time, you want to expand into international markets or you simply don’t have enough storage space, outsourcing your fulfilment is a great step towards promoting business growth.
However, knowing which eCommerce fulfilment service provider to go with can be tricky! With so many offering similar packages and promising the same results it can be a minefield.
That’s why at SCEND we want to help you make an educated decision by providing you with the tools to choose the right 3PL for you! We’ve created a list of 7 questions which you should consider when looking into a new 3PL! And if you want to drop us a message asking anything from the list… be sure to get in touch!
1. What e-fulfilment services do they offer?
Seemingly obvious, but extremely important, when you’re looking for an eCommerce fulfilment partner you need to be asking about their service offering! Whilst 90% of fulfilment companies offer the basics, such as eCommerce fulfilment, pick & pack, warehousing and storage and shipping etc. Other end-to-end logistics providers will go above and beyond the standard to offer their clients something which is suited to their needs.
When it comes to asking the question about service offerings you need to be questioning what services they offer when it comes to contract packing, returns and so much more. Not only that but do they offer any additional or value-added services to not only provide a fulfilment solution which works for your business but supersedes both yours and your customer's expectations?
It’s important to figure out what you need from your fulfilment company, and if you have specific requirements, make sure that the company can fulfil those needs! Even if you’re just starting out, and right now you’re just looking for a simple end-to-end solution, preparation for the future is key. In a world where social commerce can make a product blow up overnight, having a 3PL that can keep up with this demand and provide for you no matter whether you’re new to eCommerce or TikTok viral is essential.
2. Are they equipped to work with your specific sector?
When it comes to eCommerce fulfilment, much like any other industry, each business will be suited to working with a specific sector or industry. Whilst some specialise in food and drink, others are more equipped for fashion and apparel. That is why when looking for a 3PL you need to do some research into if that 3PL is suitable for your specific business.
How do you do that? Looking at their previous work and clients is a great way to see what types of businesses they’re used to working with. Their website may have sector pages, or case studies to give you some more information on this, but this information isn’t always readily available online so it might be worth asking the question directly! From there, you’ll have a much better idea of whether they’re a good fit for your business.
3. How much will outsourcing my fulfilment cost?
Taking steps towards outsourcing your fulfilment process for the first time can be daunting. It’s likely that before now, you’ve handled everything yourself, or as part of a small team, so the costs of outsourcing are naturally something you’ll question. It’s important you strike the balance between choosing a provider that works in line with your budget, whilst also providing all the services that you need.
When it comes to costs, find out exactly what you’ll be charged for, how that changes with fluctuations in demand, and if there are any hidden fees to think about. At SCEND, there are no hidden charges or setup fees. However, not all providers are the same, so make sure you find out before you commit – if you want to find out more about how much fulfilment costs, head to our blog. Or contact a member of the SCEND team.
4. Where is their fulfilment warehouse located?
Whilst the location of a fulfilment warehouse might not be something you’d consider initially, it’s actually a really important factor! In today’s society, we have come to expect retailers to offer a next-day delivery service or if not next day, some form of express delivery. As eCommerce continues to boom, we can expect a customer base who are less likely to want to wait a week for their goods to be delivered.
That being said what are the right questions to ask when discussing location? If you’re shipping to the UK, you need an eCommerce fulfilment centre which is conveniently located, having a centre which is connected to transport hubs up and down the UK will allow you to confidently promise next-day and express delivery services to your customers. Asking for information on their final cut-off times is also a good idea so you can be in the know when it comes to your customer's orders.
Here at SCEND we offer a 9PM cut off on eCommerce orders. And a 100% guaranteed same-day-shipping on ALL orders placed before 4PM.
5. Does your 3PL offer international shipping?
Whether you currently market to consumers around the globe or have plans to do so in the future, it’s important to find out whether your chosen eCommerce fulfilment provider has the ability to ship internationally. If this is an option, it gives you the opportunity to expand into new marketplaces should you wish to do so. Find out the costs associated with this, and ensure that they are able to adhere to international laws and regulations to avoid costly fines and penalties.
6. Can your eCommerce fulfilment provider offer personalised packaging?
No matter the size of your business, custom and personalised packaging is essential. It’s safe to say that packaging is much more than just a cardboard box. In fact, over 70% of consumers said their decision to purchase is influenced by the design of the packaging. What’s more, 40% of consumers will share your packaging on social media if it is unique. Giving you another great way to market your products!
With that in mind, ensuring that your new fulfilment partner is able to offer custom packaging such as labels, messages and materials is key if you want to stand out from the crowd and make a great impression with your customers. Not only are they more likely to make a repeat purchase, but they’ll also share your brand with others. If personalised packaging is important to you, make sure you check the added costs of personalisation to ensure that it still fits within your budget with your chosen fulfilment provider.
7. Which technology and integrations does my fulfilment provider use?
One of the key benefits of outsourcing your fulfilment services is freeing up more of your time, therefore making sure that a company has the right technology and integration systems in place is key. You want to ensure that all your orders from all of your sales channels are fed through automatically, there should be no need for you to check for new orders, or update your inventory levels. With SCEND’s fulfilment software, you get access to your own online portal and order fulfilment software that shows you what’s happening in our warehouse.
Not only that, you also want to make sure that your fulfilment provider offers seamless integration with your chosen eCommerce platform. At SCEND we integrate seamlessly with all major eCom platforms including Shopify and Magento, and also offer a fantastic integration with marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and social commerce platform TikTok.
Giving you the freedom to sell online, wherever you want! Speak to the team to find out if we offer integration with your chosen eCom platform.
Ready to get on board with a new e-fulfilment partner? Get in touch with the SCEND team to supercharge your eCom fulfilment, returns management, contract pack and so much more!