Does an order fulfillment company need to have direct experience with a product in order to do the best job? The answer is, not necessarily. There are many things you should look at when outsourcing fulfillment to a 3rd party fulfillment services provider, and surprisingly, experience with your particular product is not at the top of the list.
You want your order fulfillment company to be good at the nuances of inventory management and picking and packing that characterize your business. It truly doesn’t matter if it’s a toy, a shirt, a handbag, or a marketing/POP graphic. As long as your fulfillment company knows where to find it and how to manage the pick/pack process, they have what it takes.
Here are some of the top order fulfillment considerations: Can the fulfillment company meet your needs whether you have 5 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) or 5000? How about pick/pack orders with 5 line items or 100 line items? Can they pick loose units or cases, or both? Is their expertise in business-to-business fulfillment or direct-to-consumer, or both? Are there rush situations? How well does the fulfillment company react to last minute challenges? Is FIFO (first in first out) required, or is lot control required? Are there returns and how well does the order fulfillment company manage returns?
Now let’s look at reasons to consider specific product experience. You may want your order fulfillment company to be familiar with the retailers you ship to. Some products need special care in pack-out, such as garments on hanger (GOH), or POP/marketing materials and delicate consumer items that could get damaged in transit. Some product types or programs have complex data capture, special processes and specific reporting needs unique to an industry, such as serial number capture and gift card activations. Certainly more complex large scale assembly projects should go to a fulfillment services company that meets the space requirements and has experience in special or complex assembly work like hot melt gluing.
So, think long and hard about whether you want your fulfillment services company to have experience within your industry. It may be important, but it may be more important that the characteristics of your program match the expertise of your 3rd party fulfillment services provider. After considering all the options, you may decide that AMS Fulfillment Services has the order fulfillment experience you need.
Your business has made the decision to begin outsourcing product fulfillment, and the task at hand is to find the right fulfillment services company. Among the many considerations are a few that fulfillment service professionals consider key in making a successful choice. The first and foremost consideration is whether the product fulfillment company is passionate about getting to know your business, your expectations, and what you believe would most benefit you. Communication is always the first key to success.
Another key is to choose a group of fulfillment professionals with decades of experience in the industry. Find out if your chosen fulfillment company has a proven record of being proactive and staying within budget or even coming in below budget. Has the fulfillment company established a client transition process to ensure that all systems are in sync during the critical transition of product fulfillment services? An experienced team will know about you, care about your money, and know how to get your business’ product fulfillment smoothly transitioned.
The importance of a fulfillment company’s philosophy is key and cannot be overstated. Is your product fulfillment company’s philosophy one of personal responsibility? Will they serve your business and take care of your inventory as if it were their own? If you begin your selection process with these key questions, you may decide that AMS Fulfillment is your best choice for product fulfillment services.
Amazon.com, Inc. which operates retail web sites, as well as provides programs that enable third parties to sell their products on it’s web sites recently began offering fulfillment services. The company that is known primarily for it’s book business and for being one for the first companies on the web to master the upsell is entering the fulfillment business. They are attempting to leverage their experience of fulfilling their own products and the products of companies that list on their website and expand to products that don’t have anything to do with their website.
“The Amazon Fulfillment Web Service (Amazon FWS) allows merchants to tap in to Amazon’s network of fulfillment centers and our expertise in logistics,” said Amazon Web Services evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. “Merchants can store their own products to our fulfillment centers and then, using a simple Web service interface, fulfill orders for the products.”
After reviewing the pricing of this offering it is pretty clear that this service is intended and most beneficial for the small business markets. Companies that offer fulfillment services and services related to fulfillment like AMS Fulfillment will still clearly be the best choice for medium or large companies or medium to large fulfillment, assembly, or warehousing needs.
The formula for fulfillment efficiency and excellance is people, expertiese, space, and systems. With optimally efficient operations a fulfillment company can provide the best service as well as the best price. Opimial effiiciency comes from having the right people in the right jobs. This comes from having fulfillment management teams in place with a substancial amount of experience. Of course you have to have a strategically ideal location that has enough space to take on even the largest inventory. Excellent systems and procedures top it off to make sure the fulfillment team knows the specific needs of each individual client project. Maybe AMS Fulfillment has the right formula for your company.