Did your fulfillment partner meet your expectations during peak season?
It’s the start of a new year, and for many retailers, that means evaluating how different areas of their operations are running. As the dust settles after a holiday season, it’s also a great time to look at how well your fulfillment performed – and whether it’s time to consider switching to a new provider.
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Are you losing customers that took so much time to earn due to missed and late orders?
Does your fulfillment partner fall behind during peak sales periods?
Is your inventory processed fast enough?
These are just a few signs of more significant fulfillment inefficiencies. Your fulfillment provider may delay processing inbound shipments and getting inventory on warehouse shelves. Slow stock replenishment rates can quickly erode your bottom line. Returns can stack up and go unprocessed and fail to get timely resale, further bogging down cash cycles. Your critical cash conversion cycle could be suffering, in part, due to inattentive receiving and fulfillment processes which make for unhappy customers.
Once received, new inventory and quantity counts should be available electronically on a timely basis.
Damaged Goods and Shipping Delays
Damaged goods are not only useless to your customers. They put an additional burden on your company since you now must absorb the cost of returning and replacing the damaged merchandise. While shipping delays are a regular part of a business (and are often excused), no customer will ever accept broken products, especially late broken products.
If your products are not reaching your customers in good working order, they likely did not survive the rigors of shipping because they were picked, packed, and/or loaded incorrectly at your fulfillment center.
Is your shipping strategy Cost-effective?
Does your order fulfillment provider choose the most cost-effective shipping strategy? Without automated rate shopping services and carrier integration, you leave money on the table.
It would help if you used multiple small-parcel carriers to balance cost with delivery expectations. A modern fulfillment company will offer you flexible carrier rate selection. Some online retailers will also automatically upgrade ground and deferred shipping to express shipping on orders involving social media influencers or high-value shipments.
You don’t have visibility and control over operational data?
You’ve sent an email to your provider with an address change. Hours later, they write back telling you the order has already shipped. You and your customers are losing out.
This is why brands and retailers need visibility into real-time inventory data; this allows for robust returns and exchange capabilities, including SKU matching and custom packing slips. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that retailers list the visibility of inventory and supply chain data as full technological capabilities sought in their 3PL – behind only transportation planning and warehouse management.
Your 3PL should be providing transparent, real-time access to your operational data. You should query the system to check current and historical order status and other metrics 24/7. Our order management system, EasyCommerce, enables seamless end-to-end management of complex digital services. For multichannel, this means real-time order management and communication between the 3PL’s and your core systems, such as an online store.
Your returns process is a big hassle?
Do your customers have a hassle-free returns experience? The customer demands an easy returns process and shouldn’t have to make a phone call to figure out a return. Amid high return rates for online purchases (as high as 30% for some product categories!), you need to keep your return-related costs down as much as you can.
If you have to email your 3PL to tell them about a return, you may want to reconsider your returns provider.
Why is this so critical? According to the UPS study, 73% of online shoppers said the returns experience affected whether they would continue shopping with a retailer. If the experience is positive, you’ve hit on a solid customer retention strategy – but this all hinges on the capabilities of your 3PL provider.
Many elements go into hassle-free returns for your end customers, including return forms and, ideally, the automatic generation of exchange labels with every order. Moreover, consumers want to receive credit for their returns – fast.
Retailers should easily configure returns workflow with their 3PL on behalf of their customers, including creating exchange shipments and directing processes such as returning the item to inventory or setting it aside following an inspection. Additional capabilities include the ability to check the status of your customer’s returns in real-time or send your 3PL an alert to expect a return tied to an order.
Are you seeking better e-commerce fulfillment?
As an online retailer, you need to keep up with your end customer’s fluid expectations for a seamless customer experience. Brand reputation, loss of customers, and lost opportunity—not to mention revenues—are all at stake if your e-commerce fulfillment processes are less than perfect.
Transparency, visibility, and intelligent use of automation technologies are the baseline requirements of modern fulfillment. Switching 3PLs might seem like a headache, but it’s well worth it to achieve a more efficient, streamlined fulfillment operation that can save you money in the long run.
How to Switch Fulfillment Providers?
Fortunately, all you need to do to start that process is contact swiss mail solutions. With a worldwide network of warehouses and order fulfillment centers, swiss mail solutions is the best choice you can make for your growing e-commerce business.
Ready to make a move?
Contact us today if you are ready to explore your options for improved fulfillment with a modern 3PL that gets e-commerce fulfillment.