This week we’re going to wrap up our series on fulfillment services with a look at three remaining — and very important — components of full-service fulfillment: customer service, reporting, and procurement.
Repeat business requires complete customer satisfaction. Not only do fulfillment companies need to ship orders on time and in good condition, but successful companies are able to provide an extra level of service. Look for companies which gracefully handle special requests, are prepared for increased holiday order volumes, and offer call centers and online chat services.
Reporting is a function of the software the fulfillment company uses. We talked about software in an earlier blog, Fulfillment Services: Order Management. Most softwares offer a wide variety of reports. Are there special reports you’d like to see? Inventory, costing, month-to-month or year-to-year comparisons? If there is a report you’d like to see, check with your fulfillment provider as it may be an option.
The procurement process involves more than just the purchasing of materials or products. Typically it involves purchasing or acquiring materials at the right quantity, desirable quality and for the best price. Materials should be from a trusted source and delivered for use at the optimal time. The process also involves procurement strategy, selection of suppliers and supplier networks, and preparation and management of contracts. Procurement is one area that too few companies take advantage of. As business owners or managers, your focus should be on growing sales, not on ordering packaging materials and reordering well-established products. Once you have a supply chain in place for your standard products, why not let your fulfillment company take care of procurement? Who better to know when inventory levels are getting low than the people handling it every day?
Do you include advertising in every package sent out? If not, you should. Including flyers which introduce new products, display special offers, and announce upcoming events is an inexpensive way to grow your business. If you use a fulfillment company with in-house printing capabilities, they can manage this for you. Not only can they print pieces on demand but they can make changes as needed for special pricing or promotions.
This wraps up our eight-week session on full-service fulfillment. Remember, plain ol’ fulfillment without any of the ala carte services is like a turkey dinner without the side dishes. It may be okay, but the experience won’t be the same.