Fulfillment centers (also called third-party logistics providers) have recently become some of the most critical components of companies. Whether you’re working with a small or big business, fulfillment companies have proven to be a reliable option for those who are looking to work more efficiently and focus on building their brand as they leave the logistics to other professionals.
Generally speaking, the goal of fulfillment centers is to help you process your customer orders much more efficiently. If you have a small team, you could benefit from hiring one of those companies since you would be doing much less work in inventory, shipping, and others, leaving you room for other vital areas.
However, choosing the right fulfillment company is no easy task. If you were to choose the wrong 3PL provider, you would lose money and time, eventually. While most fulfillment companies work toward the same goal, not all of them offer the same benefits, so you must choose one that caters to your business needs.
If you currently have a Shopify business, you already have an extensive array of tools to work with. However, you still have to deal with inventory, shipping, returns, storage, and more. Choosing to work with a fulfillment company for your Shopify business could potentially skyrocket your business, as well as allow you to process national and international shipping.
The following article will go over some of the most important things you can keep in mind when choosing a fulfillment company to work with. Moreover, we’ll go over some things that can go wrong if you choose the wrong 3PL provider for your business.
If you’re interested in discovering how you can expand your Shopify business’s offering by working with a fulfillment company, keep reading!
What Should You Look for When Working with a Fulfillment Service for Shopify?
Whether you’re looking for a new fulfillment center for Shopify or any other business, some key factors are worth considering. These factors could all potentially be deal-breakers for your business, so make sure you go through each of these like a checklist!
Don’t let yourself be fooled by deals or advertisements. When it comes to your business, you must always prioritize efficiency over savings. Here’s a general overview of what you should keep in mind when choosing your fulfillment center:
Storage Center Location
One of the primary reasons why business owners go for a fulfillment service is that they cannot (or don’t want to) deal with storage space anymore. If you have a small business for Shopify, you may not have any issues storing your items in stock, but as the business grows, so will your customers’ demands.
Fulfillment centers aim to remove that weight off of your shoulders by providing you with a storage center that can easily hold all of your items in stock. However, should you go to any storage center? The short answer would be: no.
Keep in mind that not all storage centers are located in the same areas. If the storage center is too far from where you’re supposed to ship your orders, you could experience increased shipping costs and shipping delays, both of which are equally annoying for the consumer.
Those who want to get ahead of the competition must always go for a storage center that is nearby and that can provide the fastest shipping speed possible. Whether you’re working with a small or big business, the smart choice is to go for a fulfillment company that has multiple warehouses in your region.
If you work with that kind of company, you’re less likely to experience delays or price increases with your shipping, which will increase your business’ credibility. Most 3PL providers will provide you with a list of their available warehouse centers, so you don’t have to worry about that part.
Shipping Costs and Speed
As mentioned before, the key to becoming one of the top-ranked companies online is by offering the fastest shipping speeds possible, as well as offering lower shipping costs. Nobody likes to wait too long to get their order, so logically, you must find a fulfillment company that can provide a reasonable delivery time.
To put things in perspective, Amazon currently offers two-day shipping as the standard for most orders, so you must work around that delivery time. If you fail to work with a company that provides reasonable delivery speeds, your customers could turn to your competitors for their next orders.
Another way to improve your shipping costs is through dropshipping, which involves shipping the orders directly through the product manufacturer. In conclusion, if you want your business to stay online for a long time, don’t sleep on delivery times; make them as fast as possible.
On the other hand, you must work with a company that offers you decent rates for shipping in exchange for a reasonable delivery speed. While you must look at fulfillment centers as a considerable investment, it’s not recommended to spend all your money on those.
Overall, consider finding a balance between proper pricing and delivery speeds. That way, you can still provide your customers with a reliable service while you’re saving money.
It should go without saying that you must always work with a company that doesn’t have any problems in being transparent with you. You should be able to track all of your shipments, talk to customer support at any time, and overall check all of the necessary information for you to be transparent with your customers.
In any circumstance, visibility and transparency help build your business’ trust and credibility. If you’re able to provide your customers with as much information as possible regarding their orders, you will be more likely to gain more trust over the years, allowing you to hold more recurring customers.
Remember that customers aren’t forgiving when it comes to errors in their shipping. If you make a single mistake, you’re likely to lose that client forever unless you can provide them with a reliable solution.
If you’re successful with your Shopify business, you will likely need more storage centers, faster delivery speeds, and other features to keep up with your customers’ demands. Some fulfillment centers may cater to small companies only, so if you go big in the future, those centers will not be enough for you.
In that sense, you must look for a company that can hold up to your business’ potential scalability. Some of the things you must keep in mind from the company include:
- If it can handle an increasing volume of packaging and shipping
- If it has enough space to store all of your items
- If its management tools are enough to handle the scalability
What happens if the answer to any of these questions is unfavorable to you? You’re likely to lose trust and get a bad reputation since you will be dealing with delays, increased costs, and more.
Some business owners don’t focus on their packaging, and while it may not seem that important in comparison to other areas of the business, it’s one of the factors that customers value the most.
Any business must be able to build enough brand awareness; that way, you can make your company more recognizable. In essence, you must offer your customers a unique and unforgettable packaging experience. Otherwise, your brand will feel the same as any other one with generic packaging.
This doesn’t mean you must go over your capabilities to make a personalized packaging experience. The best fulfillment services already work with branding and packaging options that will allow you to get ahead of the competition. In the end, brand awareness will bring much more loyalty among your customers.
All fulfillment companies tend to work with particular software integrations that allow them to process and automate inventory. Here, the software in question would be Shopify; the fulfillment company you work with should have active Shopify integrations so that you can easily process orders in real-time.
Remember, the less time you take to process and ship an order, the more likely your customers are of coming back. Not all companies have the integrations you may need, so make sure you clarify that information before hiring one.
Returns are unavoidable. Whether there was a problem with the product or the customer simply didn’t like it, your fulfillment company must be able to process these returns in a way that mitigates losses.
Certifications and Reviews
Finally, you should check if the 3PL provider you’ll work with currently has any certifications. Some organizations that work to certify fulfillment centers include the Warehousing Education and Research Council and the International Warehouse Logistics Association.
A company with certifications often represents one that works toward high standards. You don’t want to simply work with any company that claims that it’s the best in the business.
On the other hand, you should consider looking for reviews online. Reading what existing customers have to say about the fulfillment company will help you decide whether it’s worth your time or not.
What Can Go Wrong If You Don’t Choose the Right Fulfillment Company?
Now that you know all of the benefits that come from hiring the right fulfillment service for Shopify, let’s go over what could happen if you were to choose the wrong fulfillment company. We’ve covered these consequences briefly in the section above, but let’s dive deeper into those!
INEFFICIENT CUSTOMER SUPPORT: If you’re not able to provide your customers with enough information surrounding their orders, you will lose your credibility. Customers want to know everything about their orders, including where they currently are, how much they will take to arrive, and other factors. Remember, the slightest mistake could make you lose a client.
INCORRECT SHIPPING: Customers are unforgiving, and not receiving a product on time or under the right conditions can make them go to your competition. If you work with a fulfillment company with not enough warehouses or personnel, you could have serious problems with shipping, increasing your chances of losing clients.
SLOW SHIPPING: As mentioned before, the current standard shipping rate is two days, so anything above that could pose a problem for your business. Not being able to cover your delivery at reasonable speeds could make your customers choose another company next time they want to purchase something.
FORGETTABLE UNBOXING EXPERIENCE: Most customers value good packaging since it makes them feel valued and heard. However, if you provide generic packaging with your products, you will not promote brand awareness, which in turn, will make your customers less likely to connect with your brand.
BAD INVENTORY CONTROL: Finally, one of the primary reasons why you’re hiring a fulfillment service is that you don’t want to deal with the hardships of inventory control. However, if you don’t work with a company with enough experience to handle inventory, you will have many issues updating your store to reflect what’s in stock and what isn’t, making you lose customers.
Fulfillment centers can be the solution for all growing businesses that want to make their shipping and inventory as simple as possible. However, you cannot go for any company since that could potentially ruin your business’ credibility.
Fulfyld works with several integrations, including Shopify, so you may consider taking a look at what we have to offer if you’re looking to optimize your brand through customized order fulfillment!
META DESCRIPTION: What can go wrong if you choose the wrong fulfillment company? Let’s discover what makes a fulfillment service the right one for your company!