In past articles, we have discussed the importance of considering location, size and volume, and management and staff when choosing an order fulfillment service provider. Today we’re going to cover a few additional critical factors for any company looking into new order fulfillment centers.
Percentage of Error
In most cases, an error is not as important as how the company handles the error. Whenever you have people and equipment, mistakes are bound to occur. There will be incidences when your clients will receive the wrong items, or a shipment is received at the billing address rather than the shipping address. When you speak to the management staff of a fulfillment center, ask if they measure error and how many there are. Ask them how mistakes are handled and what action is taken to prevent the same errors in the future.
Turn Around Time
Every warehouse has its own procedures for handling order processing and the amount of time that is acceptable. You need to be aware of what time order files are accepted and when you can expect orders to be shipped. You have to take these deadline times into account and see if they fit your client’s needs in terms of shipping times. A standard in the industry is 3 business days for shipping. You need to determine if this is a timeframe your clients can live with. There are fulfillment warehouses that ship within 2 business days and some are offering same day shipping. You must choose which level of service will help you grow your business.
When it comes to the various types of technology within an order fulfillment facility, you must explore your needs. In any fulfillment warehouse, technology takes on many forms. These may include:
- Integrated business management systems for your industry
- Warehouse management systems
- Radio Frequency technology
- Automated picking and packing systems
- Shipping software
- Order transmission via EDI
- Advanced Shipment Notice and Advanced Routing Notice preparations
- Secured method for transferring data files
- Customizable order interface
- Push technology for business alerts
- Customizable email alerts
- Custom reports
- Web based data reporting (preferably in real or near-real time)
Communication is always critical, and determining how a fulfillment center will communicate with you is extremely important. There will always be instances that require changes in a destination address, cancellation of an order or checking specific stock. The fulfillment center that you select must be available by phone, email and fax. Preferably, you should have a point of contact who is managing your day-to-day operations at the warehouse. You should never have to wait more than an hour or two for any request.
How essential is communication with your fulfillment center to your company? What technological advances do you most hope to see? Did we miss any factors that you’ve found most important to your company? Let us know in the comments below!
*Ware-Pak is a full service warehouse located in University Park, IL with nearly 60 years of order fulfillment and book fulfillment experience. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.