There are several factors to consider when choosing a book fulfillment or order fulfillment service. In a previous article, we discussed how the Location of your new provider can impact your business. As you continue to investigate outsourcing your warehousing and fulfillment needs, Ware-Pak has returned with more suggested areas of operation to review when making your decision.
Size and Volume
Your goal is to select a service provider that can cater to you and your daily order fulfillment needs. Fulfillment warehouses come in all sizes – ranging from very small with just a few employees, to large Fortune 500 companies with thousands of employees. On one hand you may need to ask yourself if you are the largest client, will you have to drive the organization to provide the services you need? On the other hand, if you are the smallest client, will you get lost in the daily operations?
Talk with your order fulfillment warehouse and ask about peak seasons and holidays. Peak seasons can impact fulfillment centers, and your fulfillment operation needs to be able to manage your peak season needs without any service interruptions. You will also want to know if the warehouse’s other clients peak seasons will have an adverse impact on our business. You will want to ask the following questions:
- How much additional staff do they hire during the peak season?
- How are the seasonal people trained?
- Do their standards for service change during this time?
- When is the last available time to send order files?
- What are the cut-off times for rush orders?
You will also want to know the hours of operation, whether or not you will be able to contact a customer service representative during your business hours and the requirements for orders to be processed the same day.
Not all fulfillment companies specialize in certain types of projects. Some warehouses only handle full pallets in and out, and some will pick down to full cases level, while others will pick individual units, cases, lots and full pallets. You will want to know what types of clients they service, if they include B2B, direct to consumers or large chains. Do they do e-commerce fulfillment? Book fulfillment and book warehousing? What are their area of expertise?
It is also important to know whether or not the facility has the equipment in place to handle complex assembly of kits for multiple products in one single order. One method for increasing the average selling price is to develop a kit. You can have a personalized order processing system, shrink-wrapping and many other benefits. These additional services may also include returns management, confirming receipt, inspecting inventory, testing new processes, re-packaging products and the disposition of returned goods. In terms of order fulfillment, what more could a company ask for?
One additional factor of size is shipping options. Make sure the fulfillment service provider you choose offers the shipping options your customers are currently using or may want in the future. Some of the smaller facilities may only work with one carrier, such as UPS or FedEx. Most facilities will work with all of the different carriers. A good question to ask is whether or not there are certain carriers that the fulfillment house does not work with.
Management and Staff
Everything that happens in the warehouse will be driven by the management of the fulfillment company and will convey their business philosophies. Once you find a fulfillment center whose location and size fits your needs, the next area to examine is the management and staff.
- How long have they been associated with the company?
- What has been their impact?
- How do they measure success?
- What are the key business indicators they use to mange the business?
- How are key indicators measured and what is done with that information?
How a potential fulfillment partner’s management team answers these questions will help you to verify their professional goals and make sure that they align with your own.
Thank you for reading! Please check back for new articles in the future. We will be discussing some additional factors to consider when choosing a new fulfillment service.
*Ware-Pak is a full service warehouse located in University Park, IL with over 55 years of book fulfillment and order fulfillment experience. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.