What you need to know about fulfilment and logistics.
If you are considering outsourcing your warehousing and logistics, or are looking to generally improve your operation, get the facts and make an informed decision with this concise guide.
Is Outsourced Logistics Right for You?
Whether you are an established global organisation or a growing e-tailer, how you get your goods to your customers is a fundamental consideration. Done well, warehousing and fulfilment is a fluid, cost-effective element of your business. There are three mainstream options to consider:
- You fulfil your own orders, run your own warehouse and manage your own transport or carrier contracts
- You sell products via a drop shipper
- You partner with a logistics provider, who can handle your entire fulfilment operation
There are many advantages to partnering with a logistics provider, including accessing specialist expertise and a range of capabilities that may not be economic to resource in-house. It can therefore often be a cost-effective solution when compared to running your own logistics operation. Scale is another issue. As companies expand, warehousing and fulfilment can create capacity issues. A specialist should be able to scale up and down to meet your fluctuating demands. Perhaps your returns process is not on point and affecting your customers’ experience? A logistics company can refine your operation and give back precious time.
If you are considering switching your operation to a logistics provider, this guide will answer some essential questions and provide a solid base of information with which to make your decision.
What Can You Expect?
Most organisations deliver products and collateral in some shape or form. Whether you are fulfilling and shipping products or distributing marketing materials – you need a solution that effectively and continually meets demand and gets your goods to market.
So, what services are encompassed under the warehousing and fulfilment umbrella?
- Order Processing
The first step in the fulfilment process: capturing your orders. You may wish to manage your own sales order processing and ecommerce facilities, or alternatively to have your provider handle these on your behalf. A quality provider will be able to offer multi-channel order processing, i.e. via the internet, phone, email and post. If you retain this activity in-house, you’ll need to consider how to transfer the order detail safely and securely to your fulfilment provider. File transfer (SFTP) is still common but transfer via API is now becoming the standard methodology.
- Picking and Packing
Once the orders are captured, the next step is getting the goods picked and packed. You need to consider any special requirements that may be essential to maintain your brand and the integrity of your products, including printed packaging materials, special protection, gift-wrapping etc. A well packaged and presented parcel can be a joy to receive. The converse applies!
Quality control intervals and batch traceability are also in the mix and should be defined and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
- Warehousing and Inventory Management
A competent fulfilment provider will have clean and secure storage coupled with sophisticated management systems providing ample scope for your business to grow in a controlled and managed way. If you have outgrown your current warehouse, or find the staffing, running and compliance a burden, this may be the next logical step. Whether you have multiple SKUs or run complex mailing campaigns – the right provider will have the space and know-how to meet your needs.
- National and International Distribution
Delivery options are evolving to meet demand and consumers expect multiple delivery options to meet their needs. Your logistics partner should provide a range of options for B2B and B2C consignments, ensuring the best value for money for you and your customers. Whether you need same-day and timed deliveries or national transport and global distribution – the right provider should offer all the service options you may need.
- Reverse and Return Logistics
Returns are an inevitable part of the logistics process. A poor returns process may discourage repeat business, so it is critical not to overlook this service. Do you have a returns process already? Reverse and return logistics can often lack a defined process which is where the problems begin. Streamline your returns service, providing the same level of efficiency and reliable care as your outbound service.
- IT, Tracking and Reporting
Your entire operation, from order processing to invoicing, will benefit from leveraging the IT capabilities of your fulfilment partner. These will include everything from managing low-stock situations through to integrated carrier tracking links. An extensive range of IT capabilities will improve communication, visibility, security and your total supply chain management.
EC Group provides tailored, comprehensive logistics and fulfilment solutions and operational peace of mind. Such support provides the opportunity for your business to flourish and meet the increasing demands of eCommerce, fulfilment and the subsequent delivery expectations. Our extensive scale and range of capabilities become an extension of your business, producing seamless results that you can rely on. The moment your customer orders – everything is quietly taken care of. You will feel our passion and commitment in the care and support we provide, and so will your customers.
Get in touch with one of our experienced account managers to discuss your warehousing and fulfilment needs.