Following is a post I wrote last month at the request of one of the creators of this site. Please feel free to contact me with any questions:
a new topic about how fulfillment works (without making it a blatant commercial!) would be really cool for our community. please consider that.
It is my pleasure to start a discussion on the benefits of a fulfillment program. For a simple background on fulfillment the true definition is: the storage, management, and timely distribution of a customer’s materials to its distribution outlets or end users.
What capabilities a fulfillment company handles will vary but the basics include: receiving your product or literature, checking for damage or shortage, inventorying your goods in their warehouse, perform route inventory stock levels, receiving your orders (via internet, phone, or fax), if needed kitting or assembly of goods, pulling goods from stock, packaging of goods and shipping of goods, emailing customer with tracking number or shipment status, handling returns and customer service issues. And throughout this entire process, giving you the client the ability to view all activity via real time reporting.
After many years of experience in this field I can tell everyone that, no two fulfillment programs are the same. A fulfillment program is (or should be) tailored to the specific circumstances that surround the company, product, end user, information gathering process, payment & shipping method, etc… (you get my point). With this being said, there are fulfillment companies that are better or specialize in certain areas, so make sure to provide as much information up front as you can. Picking a fulfillment company is more than finding a company that can ship you stuff; it is teaming up with a business partner that can either make your life/job easier or supply you with enough problems to drive you over the edge.
There are many reasons to partner with a fulfillment company. Of which, allowing you to focus on your core business and concentrating on growth is probably the biggest. If you’re spending your time shipping, tracking, packaging, ordering materials, etc… it is taking away time and money from what you do best, running your business.
One last point, make sure that the company you choose provides you with the management tools to see what is going on. You should have access to real time reporting that includes: order status, inventory levels, backorders, tracking numbers, returned items, payment history, etc…
Please feel free to ask any questions and if I can’t help I will certainly point you in the right direction.
Exactly what I am looking for Dan. We have two companies interested, one that is affiated with my manufacturer and another who is a friend, used to own this type of business but his daughter does now. I am interested in getting an idea about how this is all priced, a percentage of sales that come through the fulfillment operation, etc...how do they charge the client in your business?
My reason for going this route is because I do not want to invest in warehousing, employees, shipping, and all the software that goes along with it. I believe using a fulfillment partner is going to be less expensive for us.
Thanks again, and let me know what you would need for a quote.