The e-commerce sector has been experiencing exponential annual growth, with worldwide sales topping $3.5 trillion in 2019, an 18% increase from the previous year. This growth has created a large demand for fulfilment companies that handle the processing, packing, and dispatching of online orders. Selecting the right fulfilment partner is more challenging than ever due to the sheer number of companies located around the UK.
Evaluating these companies is difficult because every fulfilment centre essentially does the same thing; prepare and ship your orders. Evaluation can be a time-consuming process that you have to get right to ensure your business is in safe hands both now and for the foreseeable future.
Evaluate Your Needs
Before you start evaluating potential fulfilment partners, it’s important to evaluate your own business and to establish what you want from your fulfilment partner. You must have a clear understanding of your goals and how your fulfilment partner will help you achieve them. Understanding the type of fulfilment partner and the scope of your service requirement will help you to evaluate each potential supplier and quickly eliminate any that don’t fit the bill.
Understand The Services They Offer
You need a clear understanding of the services potential fulfilment companies offer as standard, what costs extra, and what they don’t offer. For example, do they offer returns management and kitting services? Some companies also offer contact centre services including response handling and customer support services. Evaluating your needs will help you determine which services you require from your fulfilment partner.
Location And Speed of Delivery
Your fulfilment partner must be suitably located to enable fast delivery across the UK. If your fulfilment partner is located closer to your customers, this will reduce delivery times. You must find out the average turnaround time from the point of processing an incoming order to it being dispatched.
Delivery speed is crucial because it is the last impression customers gain from your brand. With the likes of Amazon offering same-day delivery, one of the most common negative reviews for e-commerce businesses is slow delivery. A recent study reflected this, reporting that 84% of consumers said they would not return to a brand if the delivery experience was poor.
Do They Offer A Trial Period?
Some fulfilment partners offer a trial period to clients, which tests the new relationship and allows the fulfilment partner to demonstrate its expertise. In practice, having selected a fulfilment partner, the prospect of switching to an alternative supplier may feel unpalatable, but having an initial trial period is preferable to being tied into a long-term contract.
Do They Offer Advanced Reporting?
Fulfilment partners should offer complete reports that allow you to track your end-to-end fulfilment process. You should ask for examples of reports which should include things like order turnaround timescales, errors and omissions (miss-picks etc.), storage occupancy, expense breakdowns, inventory statistics and more. These reports will provide you with valuable statistics that will help you manage your business and expand your operations.
Get a Quote
Pricing will obviously play a large part in the evaluation, but everyone knows that the cheapest option is rarely the best long-term solution. You should provide all the information required to enable potential fulfilment partners to create a rate card covering all your requirements, and compare quotes from a shortlist of at least three potential partners.
Are They Flexible?
When dealing with fulfilment partners, flexibility in terms of service delivery and pricing is important. The agreed pricing model should be transparent and should be clear on how the numbers may change if your business grows or your requirements change.
In terms of operational capacity, your fulfilment partner must be agile and able to handle spikes in orders. The ability to ramp-up operations when order volumes increase is key to keeping your customers happy and growing your business.
You must also ensure that your fulfilment partner will be able to grow with your business in the longer term. Could they have the capacity to handle your business if order volumes double next year? This is an important conversation that every ambitious business must have with their fulfilment company when forming a partnership.
Why Partner With EC Group?
At EC Group, we are logistics experts with a rich fulfilment history and a modern, well-equipped response handling facility ideally located thirty minutes from central London. We offer a flexible and agile service to all of our clients, ensuring orders are processed quickly and fulfilled with care and attention to detail.
We deliver the following core services:
- Picking, packing, and fulfilment
- Warehousing and inventory management
- National and international distribution
- Returns and reverse logistics
- Customer service and account team support, management, and reporting
We realise that entrusting a company with your order fulfilment is a big decision. We want to reassure you that we will deliver the best service possible to you and your valued customers, enhancing customer loyalty and increasing the number of orders you receive. We genuinely want your business to grow, because when you do, we do too.
To discuss your fulfilment needs and how we will help expand your business, please get in touch.