As your business grows, you may need additional help and space to keep up with order volume. This is definitely a great problem to have, but it can be overwhelming looking for the right third party logistics partner, or 3PL.
Here are six questions that help find the perfect provider to not only manage fulfillment but also grow your business. Looking to work with one of ShipStation’s vetted fulfillment providers? Fill out this form, and we will match you up.
Do they specialize in your product? A fulfillment provider who has similar customers is likely to know the specific needs for packaging and presenting your products. With many providers to choose from, it can help narrow the field if you target providers that have experience with your type of products and industry. If your items or shipping needs include hazardous material such as lithium batteries or dry ice, a fulfillment provider specializing in fulfilling these products becomes a must.
Where are their warehouses/fulfillment centers located? Customers expect fast delivery. A fulfillment provider with a warehouse presence near your customer base ensures lower costs and shorter delivery to your customers.
Do they work with the parcel carriers you already use? You and your current parcel carrier know the policies and procedures they use to ship to your customers. Finding a fulfillment partner that already utilizes the carrier you have in place ensures minimal disruption to your customer experience.
What is their typical inbound process? Depending on the fulfillment provider there will be different procedures for how a provider receives the product. For instance, some providers require a schedule, pre-labeling of products, or a notification of products en route to them. It is important to identify these procedures and match them with what you are capable of doing.
What is their fee and pricing structure, and does this fit with your growth strategy? Some fulfillment providers charge for their services based on a variety of fees and price models. Try to speak with several providers to find one that can price their services based on your current needs and the needs of your growing business.
*Projecting shipping volumes over the next three to six months will go a long way in helping you find the right provider. Some metrics to take note of: daily order volume, number of SKU’s, the weight of the shipment, and where your customers are located.