On July 27, 2012
You should be as careful choosing a fulfillment house as you would be choosing any employee or business partner. Below are some of the questions you should ask to ensure your new partnership will enhance your business.
- Does the fulfillment house have a minimum volume requirement that my business must meet? This should be one of the first questions you answer, since if you do not meet the fulfillment house’s requirements there is no need for further discussion. This requirement could have been a more significant problem in times past, when fulfillment houses often focused their services on larger business. Today, there is a growing group of fulfillment houses catering to smaller operations.
- How much warehouse space will be available to my business?You should make sure not only that you have enough space to meet your current needs, but also that you have options to expand to more space if your business should grow. Check on potential for increased space as your business grows over the next few years.
- How many employees does the fulfillment house have?You want to make sure the fulfillment house has all the people it needs to fulfill its orders—including the ones you plan on sending it—promptly and efficiently. You should make sure the fulfillment house is ready and willing to accept new clients and has enough personnel to allow it take on any new work.
- How long has the fulfillment house been in the business? As is the case in almost any area of business, experience matters!
- Can the fulfillment house refer me to other business that have used their services? Talking to other business who have partnered with the fulfillment house is important both to find out if they house holds up their end of the business and also to discover if their services are compatible with your business needs. Especially concentrate on references whose needs are similar to your own so that you may ensure the fulfillment house will be able to perform the services you require.
- What is the fulfillment house’s error rate? How does it deal with and correct errors when they occur? Avoiding errors is an important part of business, but working through them and correcting them when they occur is equally, if not more, important. We all know that mistakes sometimes happen, and it’s important for any business to be aware of this and to have a process in place for dealing with these events when they happen and making sure all parties involved come out satisfied.
- Will my customers know their delivery is coming from me? If a business uses drop shipping, their deliveries will often be branded by the third party, which can mean the loss of an opportunity to build brand identity for your company. Make sure your company brand will go out on your shipments!
- How is inventory tracked? You may be outsourcing your shipping needs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want control over them. Check to see how the fulfillment house will be monitoring inventory and how you can access their information on what they have available and what they’ve shipped.
- How will I pay the fulfillment house for its services? Actually, that’s a question that deserves its own section.