Tag Archives: Accuracy

Fulfillment Services: Warehousing, Logistics and Shipping

17 Apr

Storage and warehousing

You will most likely need a place to store your inventory. You may also need a place that is willing to accept shipments on your behalf from your manufacturers. Storage options range from an informal self-storage facility where you drop off and pick up inventory yourself to a tightly-run warehousing operation that manages thousands of square feet of inventory, and handles receiving and shipping for you. Storage facilities are available for perishable items requiring refrigeration, temperature-sensitive items requiring air conditioning or heating or, more typically, warehousing providing protection from the elements. Third-party fulfillment services often charge a storage fee based on the product storage requirements and any required special handling.

Logistics

BusinessDictionary.com defines logistics as the planning, execution, and control of the procurement, movement, and stationing of personnel, material, and other resources to achieve the objectives of a campaign, plan, project, or strategy. In the first article of this series, Fulfillment Services . . .so much more than filling orders!, we compared basic fulfillment without any other services to a turkey dinner without anything but turkey. To continue the comparison, it is logistics that turns the simple turkey dinner into the outstanding meal complete with mashed potatoes, cranberry, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. It takes planning and execution to create a mouth-watering, sumptuous dinner where all the food is done at the same time and the quantity is abundant enough to leave everyone satisfied. Likewise in fulfillment, it takes planning and execution to have the needed products on hand, and then fill and ship the orders according to customers’ expectations.

Shipping

It is rare for a fulfillment company to provide its own courier services. In most cases, companies outsource shipping to courier or delivery companies. However, many times fulfillment companies—because of their large shipping volume—can negotiate larger shipping discounts with major delivery companies such as UPS, DHL, FedEx and USPS than small retailers can. Fast, dependable shipping is critical to the success of your online business and your fulfillment company’s top priority should be getting your orders to your customers quickly, accurately, and to their specifications.

Most fulfillment companies offer a range of shipping options to ensure  the most reliable and cost-effective delivery methods. Options range from overnight delivery to slower, but more economical, forms of shipping. Several options are available for international shipping but be sure to discuss this with your fulfillment provider to make sure they are capable of shipping to (and providing the customs paperwork for) the countries you expect to do business with.Full-Service Fulfillment Options

Two other topics to discuss with your fulfillment provider are turnaround time and accuracy rate. Can your fulfillment provider ship out orders the same day they receive them? What is their typical turnaround time? A good fulfillment company will ship out expedited orders the same day they receive them and the remainder of orders within two days of receipt. Also, a good fulfillment company will have an accuracy rate of 99% or better. This means orders are picked, packed and shipped correctly, and to the customers’ specifications. This is important as errors are costly in expense, time, and customer satisfaction.

Next week we’ll wrap up this series with a final look at a few remaining pieces of the fulfillment puzzle: customer service, reports, and procurement.

Six Things to Look for in a Fulfillment Provider

24 Jan

When people think about order fulfillment, they usually think about pick, pack & ship. However, order fulfillment is about much more than the ability to pick items off a shelf and fill boxes. A good fulfillment house is a partner to you in many ways, including print, procurement, and kit building. Here are a few key points to consider when looking for a fulfillment partner.

  1. What is the accuracy rate of the prospective fulfillment company?
    Ask the prospect for their pick-error rate. While industry average is a 99% accuracy rate, many companies have a much lower rate (and many will have much higher). Pick errors are expensive in terms of time, shipping and product expenses, and–probably the most important of all–customer satisfaction. Make sure you choose a fulfillment company with a low pick-error rate.

    Quality Fulfillment

    Fulfillment is more than just pick, pack, and ship.

  2. Will the vendor do procurement if asked?
    Fulfillment partners who are willing and able to take of your procurement needs can help shorten turnaround times, reduce shipping costs, and save you valuable employee time.
  3. Can the fulfillment vendor save you money on printing costs?
    Printing at or near the fulfillment company means reduced shipping expenses. One thing to consider, too, is whether the vendor has internal digital print capabilities or outsources their printing. Costs will be lower if they print in-house.
  4. Does the vendor do enough shipping to offer savings on postage and freight?
    Fulfillment centers use overall volume to negotiate discounts with freight carriers. This allows them to spread shipping and handling costs across all their clients. Taking advantage of these discounts will help offset the costs of hiring a fulfillment center.
  5. Can they save you money by combining literature with premium items or products?
    Rather than using two separate fulfillment vendors for literature and product/premiums, consider finding a vendor who can handle all types of fulfillment. This will simplify ordering and save money. Often times, too, orders can be packaged and shipped together, reducing costs. And, you’ll also have better accountability with only one company managing your fulfillment operations.
  6. Does your vendor have an experienced team of people who will be working on your behalf?
    Quality fulfillment centers train their employees on products, processes and safety. This means you have a happier customer and lower costs due to efficiency, accuracy, and safety.

As you can see, having the right fulfillment partner can not only make things easier for you, but can save you time and money. Next time you are in the market for a different fulfillment services company, consider what else prospective fulfillment suppliers have to offer besides pricing, packing and shipping.

Why is Accuracy Important in Fulfillment?

22 Aug

Imagine this scenario. Tomorrow is little Johnny’s birthday. A couple of weeks ago, you ordered his gifts online from four different places. One of the gifts arrived in just a few days, impressively packaged, and in great shape. A second gift arrived two days ago but was improperly packaged and arrived damaged. The third gift arrived today, but when you opened the box, you didn’t find the item you ordered but something entirely different and not age-appropriate. The fourth gift? Well . . . online tracking shows that it is still in transit but it is somehow being sent to an address five states away.

Imagine Johnny’s disappointment when he has only one present to open. Which of these four companies will you order from again?

Don’t overlook the importance of accuracy when you look at fulfillment. Accuracy doesn’t just mean that your customers receive the items they order, but that they receive them on time and in good shape. By using a fulfillment company which prides itself on accuracy, you will have happy customers, and happy customers make for repeat customers.

Also, cost savings are substantial when products ship correctly the first time.  If the wrong item is picked during the order fulfillment process, someone needs to pay for the time to re-pick, re-package, and re-ship the order. And, too, products damaged during shipping due to improper packaging are expensive to replace and shipping companies are not always willing to accept their portion of the responsibility for careful handling of packages, or packages not delivered on time.

Here at Mediascope, we like to say that we’re not just picking orders and shipping them out, but that we are creating smiles. Customers are happy when they receive the right products, in good shape, and on time. For you, a happy customer means your company deepens relationships, sells more products, and benefits from a better bottom line. That should make you smile, too. And with Mediascope’s 99.996 accuracy rate, we think we are creating a lot of smiles.